The Game (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

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"The Game"
Star Trek: The Next Generation episode
ST-TNG The Game.jpg
The augmented reality game that controls minds.
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 6
Directed byCorey Allen
Story bySusan Sackett
Fred Bronson
Brannon Braga
Teleplay byBrannon Braga
Featured musicJay Chattaway
Production code206
Original air dateOctober 28, 1991 (1991-10-28)
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
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"The Game" is the 106th episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the sixth episode of the fifth season.


William Riker visits Risa and is introduced to a video game by Etana Jol, a Ktarian woman with whom he has become romantically involved during his vacation on the pleasure planet. Riker, upon his return to the Enterprise, distributes replicated copies of the game to the crew of the starship.

Cadet Wesley Crusher, on vacation from Starfleet Academy, is visiting the Enterprise and notices everyone playing the game (and trying to convince him to play as well). Doctor Beverly Crusher, Wesley's mother, secretly switches off Lieutenant Commander Data and sabotages his circuits, because he would be immune to the game's addictive properties. The game addicts people who play it by stimulating the pleasure centers of their brains when they successfully complete each level.

Wesley reports to Captain Jean-Luc Picard his suspicions that the game is dangerous. However, Picard is already addicted. Eventually, Wesley and his new girlfriend, Ensign Robin Lefler, are the only people on the ship who have yet to become addicted to the game. Wesley and Robin discover that Data's injuries were in fact sabotage, and begin working on a plan to stop the spread of the game. Wesley meets Robin in engineering, where he learns that she has come under the influence of the game, presumably having been captured by the crew and forced to play. Riker and Worf pursue Wesley, as he is the last non-addicted person on the ship. Wesley evades them for a time, but they eventually trap him in an access tunnel and take him to the bridge, where he is restrained and forced to play the game.

Data, having been examined and repaired by Wesley and Ensign Lefler before they were forced to submit to the game, frees the rest of the crew from their mind-controlled state by flashing pulses of light in their faces from a handheld lamp (a "palm beacon"). The crew is then able to discern the purpose of the game: It rendered them extremely susceptible to the power of suggestion, compelling them to aid the games' creators, the Ktarians, in an attempt to take control of the Enterprise and eventually the Federation. Picard captures the Ktarian vessel, captained by Etana Jol, responsible for distributing the games and has it towed to the nearest spacedock. Wesley and Lefler bid each other a reluctant farewell as he returns to Starfleet Academy.


In 2012, this episode was noted by Forbes as an alternative top ten Star Trek: The Next Generation episode selection.[1] They note its themes about pleasure and addiction as well as remarking on a scene in which Troi eats a dessert.[1]

In 2017, Io9 noted "The Game" for being one of the weirdest TNG adventures, with the crew being controlled by a highly addictive augmented reality video game.[2]

TV Guide listed Ashley Judd's acting role as Ensign Robin Lefler as one of 28 surprising guest acting roles on Star Trek, noting that she appears in the episode "Darmok" (Season 5 Episode 2) and also in this episode, "The Game".[3] The romance between the Robin and Wesley characters is also noted.[3] The character of Robin Lefler was ranked as the 71st most important character of Starfleet within the Star Trek science fiction universe.[4]

Star Trek novel author Peter David utilized the character Robin Lefler in his Star Trek: New Frontier books.[5]

In 2019, ScreenRant included this episode on a list of bad one-off romances on the show, citing the relationship between Riker and Etana on the planet Risa.[6]

In 2020, GameSpot noted this episode as having one of the most bizarre moments of the series, citing the moment when Wesley is forced to play the game.[7]


The episode was released in the United States on November 5, 2002, as part of the season five DVD box set.[8] The first Blu-ray release was in the United States on November 18, 2013,[9] followed by the United Kingdom the next day, November 19, 2013.[10]


  1. ^ a b Pinchefsky, Carol. "The OTHER Top 10 Best 'Star Trek: Next Generation' Episodes (and None Are 'The Inner Light')". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  2. ^ Whitbrook, James (26 September 2017). "The 15 Weirdest Missions Star Trek: The Next Generation Boldly Went On". io9. Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  3. ^ a b "28 Surprising Star Trek Guest Stars : Ashley Judd, Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Darmok" and "The Game" | TV Guide". Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  4. ^ McMillan, Graeme (2016-09-05). "Star Trek's 100 Most Important Crew Members, Ranked". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  5. ^ "20 Actors Who Were on Star Trek Before Becoming Famous". CBR. 2018-12-09. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  6. ^ "Star Trek: TNG: 10 Worst One-Off Romances". ScreenRant. 2019-11-19. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  7. ^ "The 11 Most Bizarre Moments Throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation". GameSpot. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  8. ^ Ordway, Holly E. (November 5, 2002). "Star Trek the Next Generation – Season 5". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  9. ^ Miller III, Randy (November 19, 2013). "Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Five (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on August 15, 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  10. ^ Simpson, Michael (November 11, 2013). "Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5 Blu-ray Review". Sci-Fi Now. Archived from the original on March 15, 2016. Retrieved September 13, 2016.

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