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The fictional Star Trek universe is memorable for various elements of imagined future culture, including a variety of sports, games and other pastimes. Some of these fictional recreational activities are closely associated with one race, although they may have gained adherents from other backgrounds. Others thrive on the interaction of different species.
Some of the games below were central to the plot of a single episode. Others were recurring plot elements, spanning multiple television series of the Star Trek franchise.
The holodeck is a facility that simulates reality; it can replicate a wide variety of environments. It is found on starships and starbases in all the series that are set in the 24th century, i.e. Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. The holodeck is sometimes used for research or training, but is frequently shown in use for various forms of entertainment.
Some programs depicted in the various Star Trek shows include a Klingon calisthenics program, used heavily by Lieutenant Commander Worf; a park-like setting where Riker first encounters Data in "Encounter at Farpoint"; various 'social' programs, such as a mud-bath and a pool hall; and Jean-Luc Picard's Dixon Hill holonovels.
Other settings have sometimes been shown, such as the Jupiter Station Diagnostic Program which was used to maintain the Emergency Medical Hologram on various Starfleet vessels, the Utopia Planitia Shipyards, several Sherlock Holmes programs created by Data for his exploration of humanity, and various Shakespeare programs enjoyed by Jean-Luc Picard.
In Voyager, an entire holographic village and its population were created. The "Fair Haven" program was originally designed for occasional enjoyment by the crew of Voyager, but the characters become sentient by the time of the follow-up episode "Spirit Folk", and the captain orders that the holodecks be modified so that the program could remain running continuously.
Also in Voyager, Seven of Nine is continuously frustrated by Captain Janeway's superior skill at Velocity, a game played in a racquetball-type arena where opponents try to be the first to acquire the target of a flying discus and shoot it. The game is scored in points. Each time a player is unable to acquire the disc and is hit by it the other player scores a point. The game is played to ten points.
According to the history presented in Star Trek, the Earth game baseball suffered from a decline in popularity that culminated in the final World Series, which was played in 2042 before a crowd of 300 and won by legendary player Buck Bokai. By the 24th century, the now-obscure game was appreciated by a relatively small number of aficionados including Captain Sisko, Jake Sisko, Kassidy Yates and astrophysicist Dr. Paul Stubbs. The only organized baseball mentioned is a six-team league on the distant Cestus III. A Vulcan Starfleet crew formed a team under the leadership of their captain and challenged a team led by Captain Sisko in 2375.
Parrises Squares is a vigorous athletic game, mentioned in several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager.
It is often implied that the game involves a high risk of serious personal injury; nevertheless, much to the concern of parents, the game was quite popular with teenagers during the 24th century. The game involves the use of a piece of equipment called an ion mallet and a ramp, and players often wear special padded uniforms.
While healing a deep cut on William Riker's face, Dr. Beverly Crusher lectured him "to stop playing Parrises Squares as if you're 21", further advising him that "one day, you'll break your neck, and I won't be able to heal that as easily."
When The Doctor created a holographic family for himself in 2373, his 'daughter' Belle was on her school's Parrises Squares team. This worried her 'parents', because Parrises Squares can be a dangerous game for someone her age. It later turned out their worries were justified, as she later 'died' of complications from a Parrises Squares injury.
Parrises Squares is mainly mentioned as a game played by humans, but other species participate. M'Kota R'Cho was the first Klingon to play the game, when he participated in the controversial Championship Finals of 2342.
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Captain Jonathan Archer (Star Trek: Enterprise) enjoys water polo and played when he was on Earth. In the episode "Catwalk", he is seen watching a water polo match on a portable viewing device while trying to fall asleep. He is also seen on several occasions bouncing a water polo ball off the wall in his quarters.
In one episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, most of the crew is briefly seen playing basketball.
O'Brien and Bashir are frequently seen playing darts at Quark's bar in DS9.
In the memorable original series episode "The Gamesters of Triskelion", Captain Kirk and some of his crew are forced to participate as gladiators in combat against other humanoids, for the entertainment of unseen masters who wager Quatloos among themselves on the outcome in the arena.
Anbo-Jitsu (or anbo-jyutsu) is a fictitious Japanese sport shown in Star Trek: The Next Generation. In it, two armored opponents facing each other wear a solid visor, rendering them blind, and fight with a large staff. A proximity sensor is worn by each combatant, alerting them to their opponent's location with an audio signal. A protective cushion is worn on one arm and can be used to shield or deflect attacks. It is called "the ultimate evolution in the martial arts" in the context of the show.
Tsunkatse is a form of martial arts, similar to kickboxing and some Japanese sports. Each opponent wears a round device on both the front and back of their harness which sends the wearer a shock when it is touched by an opponent's counterpart, worn on the feet and hands. Each match is designated by a color code, red meaning to the death, blue meaning until one opponent is defeated.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard engages in fencing matches on at least two occasions. First, in the episode "We'll Always Have Paris", Picard is in a match against an unnamed crew member. Picard scores a point, and then the match is cut short because of a strange time loop (which serves as the plot for the main story). Second, he matches against Guinan in the episode "I, Borg". Guinan feigns injury and Picard lowers his guard to help, at which time she strikes for an easy point. She does this to warn Picard against feeling sorry for the injured Borg that the crew has saved (which serves as the plot for the main story).
Hikaru Sulu in the original series is known to be a fencer, as demonstrated in the episode "The Naked Time". In the 2009 movie, Sulu mentions he has combat training, which he later tells Kirk is "Fencing." He carries an auto-foldout sword during the space jump to the mining probe over Vulcan.
Chula is a game played by the Wadi race that places real people into a game who face a series of challenges based on dice rolls and decisions made by an outside player. Wagers are placed on the survival of the in-game players. It was seen in the DS9 episode Move Along Home.
Dabo is a Ferengi game of skill and chance. The game relies on the spinning of a "dabo wheel" similar to a roulette wheel. During various betting hands (similar to poker) each player either "buys" or "sells" or "converts" their gold-pressed latinum (money) in preparation for the next spin of the dabo wheel.
About ten players can sit around the dabo wheel. When something good happens, everyone around the table yells "Dabo!"
The game is most often seen played in Quark's bar on Deep Space Nine.
Dabo girls are attractive women of various species who run the games in Ferengi establishments. Leeta, who was a Dabo girl in Quark's bar, maintained that Dabo girls not only had to look appealing enough to lure customers to play, but also be able to quickly calculate odds and ensure a house victory in the long run, typically by enticing gamers to stay until they lose.
The character therefore turns around the stereotype of the "dumb blonde" or "bimbo"; while Dabo girls may be intentionally giving that impression to customers, they take advantage of those who view a Dabo girl as no more than that. One was quoted as saying "The first rule of Dabo is watch the wheel, not the girl"
The character Leeta, played by Chase Masterson, made the role of Dabo girl significant in Star Trek fandom. Other Dabo girls who appeared or were referred to in multiple episodes include Jake Sisko's date Mardah, played by Jill Sayre, and M'Pella, played by Cathy Debuono. Aluura, played by Symba Smith, had a central role in the episode "Profit and Lace".
In the non-canon Star Trek novel series Mission Gamma, Treir, one of Quark's dabo girls, hires Hetik, an Orion male, as the first ever dabo boy in the game's history. Quark is initially dubious about the introduction of a dabo boy, but Hetik soon becomes popular among female patrons.
Tongo is a card game played predominantly by the Ferengi. The game centers around a roulette-type wheel with an elevated pot in the middle. On each turn the wheel is spun, and the player has the choice to "evade", "confront", "acquire", or "retreat". Each choice has its purchase price, sell price, and its risk, all of which are interrelated.
A Global Tongo Championship is held each year on Ferenginar.
Poker is a card game played on many TNG episodes. The Enterprise's crew (NCC 1701-D) plays dealer's choice, usually five-card stud, which is one of the more rare variants of poker by 20th and 21st century standards. Draws have also been picked as well as an unknown variation on 5 card stud, as well as 7 card stud. Commander Riker is typically the better poker player.
Fizzbin is a fictional card game created by Kirk in the Original Series episode "A Piece of the Action". While being held hostage on Sigma Iota II with Spock and McCoy, he spontaneously invented a confusing card game to distract the henchmen guarding them.
The rules were intentionally very complex. Each player gets six cards, except for the player on the dealer's right, who gets seven. The second card is turned up, except on Tuesdays. Kirk dealt the henchman two jacks, which are a "half-fizzbin." When the henchman said he needs another jack, Kirk warned that a third jack is a "shralk" and is grounds for disqualification. With two jacks, one wants a king and a deuce, except at night, when one wants a queen and a four.
At this point, Kirk dealt a third jack, but to keep the ruse going, he ignored the disqualification rule he had just made up. He explained that, had a king been dealt instead of a jack, the player would get another card, except when it's dark, in which case he'd have to give it back. The top hand is a "royal fizzbin," but the odds of getting one are "astronomical": when Kirk asked Spock what the odds are, Spock truthfully replied that he had never computed them.
Kirk called the last card a "kronk" and then purposely dealt a card such that it fell on the floor. As the henchman being taught reached down, Spock nerve-pinched him while Kirk and McCoy attacked the other guards, allowing the three to escape.
Once in Deep Space Nine, Quark mentioned the game as a way for him and Odo to while away the time while traveling on a runabout; whether it had become a real game or if it had been a reference was never explained. Playable versions of the game have been invented, and it featured in the episode "Nantucket Sleighride" of the animated series Starcom.
Fizzbin is featured in the second part of Production Number 19 of "Back at the Barnyard", "Otis' Eleven".
See also: Mornington Crescent
Dom-jot was featured in the episode "Tapestry". It appears to be a futuristic version of bumper pool. Jean-Luc Picard (as a Starfleet cadet) was stabbed in the heart by a Nausicaan after a fight that ensued because his friend rigged a Dom-jot table to thwart a cheating Nausicaan. In the DS9 episode "The Abandoned (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)", Jake's girlfriend Mardah mentions to Jake's father that Jake is a hustler at the Dom-jot table.
Kadis-kot is a board game played on a six-sided board with three sets of coloured tiles: red, green, and orange. Visually, the game appears to be a variant of Reversi or Othello. It appears to be a game of logic and strategy for 2 players, but as many as 5 players have been shown playing together.
Kal-Toh (kal-toe) is a Vulcan game of logic. According to Tuvok, "Kal-Toh is to chess as chess is to Tic-Tac-Toe". Its goal, according to him, "[i]s not about striving for balance [but] about finding the seeds of order even in the midst of profound chaos." It first appeared on Star Trek: Voyager, often played by Tuvok and a partner.
The game itself involves a large number of small gray holographic rods called t'an, generated from a platform below. They are arranged in a specific manner, which eventually produces an icosidodecahedron. Kal-Toh can be played singly or against an opponent, each taking a turn to place a piece.
Kotra is a Cardassian board game, seen played only once in the entire franchise, in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Empok Nor". It is shown on the table in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Wrongs Darker than Death or Night"
Strategema is generally played on a specially-designed computer. Both players sit at the computer-controlled Strategema table, facing each other, with the board continuously rotating in the middle. The game is controlled with metal thimbles placed on the players' fingers. Electronics in these thimbles then calculate the movement of the fingers and send the information to the computer.
The duration of a Strategema game depends on the competence of the players. Generally, games last only a hundred moves at most. However, experienced master players can achieve games of well over a thousand moves.
The longest game of Strategema on record was between Zakdorn master strategist Sirma Kolrami and Lieutenant Commander Data, lasting over 30,000 moves. Kolrami, realizing that Data was playing to achieve a draw, eventually threw down his controls in disgust and resigned the game to the delight of the Enterprise-D crewmembers who were watching.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Game", an undesignated virtual reality game was introduced to the crew of the Enterprise in which players wore an optical headset and used mental commands to manipulate holographic funnels to catch virtual disks.
The Game was eventually revealed to be deliberately addictive, stimulating the pleasure centers of the players' brains, and was designed by aliens called the Ktarians, as a stratagem to take control of the Enterprise.
The effects and structure of the The Game appear to mirror an exaggerated stereotype of video game addiction.
Rules for the game were never explained within the series; in fact, the boards are sometimes not even aligned consistently from one shot to the next within a single episode. The Tri-D chessboard set was made popular by its inclusion in the The Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual by Franz Joseph, who invented starting positions for the playing pieces and short additional rules. With his approval, Andrew Bartmess first developed the Standard Rules in 1976.
Terrace is a board game introduced in 1992, and was subsequently featured on Star Trek: The Next Generation as a permanent prop.
Durotta is a board game played by Paris and Torres in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Night".
The props used were from the real world game Quarto.