“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

From: WarGames

Genre: Movies

Who said it?: Joshua/WOPR

The story behind the quote: The quote comes from the 1983 science fiction thriller, WarGames. In the film, all of the United States nuclear launch capabilities is given to a computer called “Joshua” or WOPR, which stands for War Operation Plan Response. It is programmed to consistently run military simulations to concoct the best plan of an attack if nuclear retaliation is needed. David Lightman (played by Matthew Broderick) unwittingly hacks into Joshua and causes the computer to think that the Soviet Union has launched missiles at the United States.

The quote comes from the very end of the film. David forces Joshuato play tic-tac-toe against itself in the attempt to make it understand the concept of mutually assured destruction. As Joshua obtains the final launch code, it runs through all the possible scenarios in an attempt to find a winning plan. After cycling through all of them and not finding one where anyone survives, the machine delivers the quote.

Geek wisdom: War is ultimately useless as, while history may say there are winners and losers, there really aren’t as both sides suffer massive losses. No matter which side comes out on top, it’s usually not worth the pain and suffering it does and the only real way to not have war is to not participate.