Pong FAQ

(The email addresses used in here are, of course, no longer valid.)

Someone asked about Pong, so I thought they'd find this useful:

Pong FAQ v0.01
This document copyright September 1994 by Ben Parrish
For updates and corrections, contact pinback@universe.digex.net

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Q. What's that little white thing on the left of the screen?
A. That is a "paddle". It is used to bounce the "ball" out of your end of the screen.

Q. What's that little white thing on the right of the screen?
A. That's the other paddle, of course. Your opponent uses it for the same purpose as your own.

Q. What's the little dot moving around the screen?
A. That's the "ball", obviously. The object of all your affections. Keep it from going by your "paddle".

Q. What's a "paddle"?
A. It's the little white thing on the- hey, don't mess with my head.

Q. Hahaha, I can't believe you fell for it...
A. Shut up. You ask the questions, dummy.

Q. How do you win?
A. You get the ball by your opponent's paddle 15 times, before he does the same to you.

Q. What are the "secret moves"?
A. If you rotate the knob left, your paddle will go up. If you rotate the knob right, it will go down. (Reverse for opposite side) Also, you can morph into Kano by doing a left-left-left-right combo.

Q. Wrong game. Try alt.games.mk.
A. Oh yeah, sorry.

Q. I move the knob, but my paddle doesn't do what I tell it to do. Why not?
A. Did you put in a quarter?

Q. Yes.
A. Did you press "start"?

Q. Oops. OK, now I get it. Hey, you just asked ME two questions. Why aren't YOU "Q" and ME "A"?
A. I think you just answered your own question.

Q. That's a little paradoxical for my tastes.
A. Should I leave you alone for a moment to let you compose yourself?

Q. No, I'm OK now. Can I ask one more question?
A. Sure.

Q. Why is this being written in the first place?
A. Your guess is as good as mine.

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Date: Wed, 14 Sep 1994 17:40:20 GMT

: Q. Why would my opponent want to bounce the "vall" out of my end of the : screen?

Pong Faq 0.02 Update
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Q. Why would my opponent want to bounce the "ball" out of my end of the screen?
A. Don't be a wiseguy. Nobody likes a wiseguy.

Q. Sure they do.
A. Not in the middle of a FAQ, they don't.

Q. Yeah, but this isn't a real FAQ, you know. You're just using this as an excuse to be silly and waste time, probably due to deep-seated psychological insecurities and general discontentment with your existence.
A. What's your point?

Q. My point was, you should be worrying less about all of your wonderful "balls" and "paddles" and make a concerted effort to mend your ways and find something in life that will bring you true satisfaction and a better sense of well-being.
A. You mean like, Master of Magic?

Q. You're not getting this at all. Let's set up another appointment next week so we can talk about this further. You have a long way to go, but there IS a light at the end of this tunnel, and the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.
A. I'm...I'm sorry. I didn't want you to see me this way...I-

Q. Don't worry about it. I'm here for you, man. We're all friends here.
A. I love you guys.

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Newsgroups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.strategic
From: pinback@netcom.com (Ben Parrish)
Subject: Pong FAQ 0.03 Update
Date: Fri, 16 Sep 1994 01:52:19 GMT

Pong FAQ 0.03 (Update)
This document, as always, copyright 1994 by Ben Parrish
So don't copy it without my permission. Oh, go ahead...

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Q. A few people have started asking their own questions for inclusion in the FAQ. They all are preying on the easy target of this entire production's inherent irony, in attempt to be cute, or funny. Do you have any comment on this?
A. I'm all for it. I've learned from my mistakes, though. I used to answer every question that came down the pike, never stopping to think if they were asked in jest or not, and only came to my senses after the rather humiliating experience of hearing them snickering behind my back about how obtuse I seemed to be. It hurt me deeply, but as they say, that which does not kill us...

Q. What about the guy who suggested you move this to a "more appropriate" newsgroup?
A. If he does not believe strategy is an integral part of correct Pong play, he is deluding himself, and shielding himself from attaining a higher understand of the science - nay, the art - that is Pong.

Q. What about the guy who wanted a repost?
A. I'll repost when I'm damn good and ready, and not one second before.

Q. You seem sort of hostile today. I thought we were all friends here.
A. Friends can allow a friend to have an off-day. As I've explained before, these have been emotionally trying times. Because of that, I haven't been able to commit enough time to my Pong duties as I would like. This, in turn, depresses me further. It's a dangerous, self-destructive spiral. Friends will help break the chain.

Q. We'll do what we can, I'm sure.
A. I really appreciate that. I only hope that some day, I'll be able to reciprocate in kind.

Q. Would it help if I asked some Pong questions?
A. That's...that's real big of ya.

Q. OK. Let's try this one : Are there bonus rounds in Pong?

Q. Hello?
A. I'm sorry...I guess I'm really having trouble focusing. I've not the energy or the motivation right now to answer Pong questions. I'd rather remain silent than tarnish the beauty of Pong by answering insufficiently or incorrectly. Fears...fears. I'm becoming paralyzed by them.

Q. Should we take another break? You've been having a tough time lately.
A. Maybe I better. When can we try again?

Q. How about tomorrow, same time.
A. Sounds good. Again, I'm sorry about this.

Q. Don't be sorry. This isn't just about Pong. This is about you. Just be happy, if you can.
A. I'll try...

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Newsgroups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.strategic
From: pinback@netcom.com (Ben Parrish)
Subject: Pong FAQ 0.04
Date: Sat, 17 Sep 1994 00:58:26 GMT

Pong FAQ 0.04 - A Seemingly Daily Update
This document copyright 1994 by Ben Parrish
Not to be taken internally.

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Q. You ready to talk to us today?
A. Absolutely. I'm trying to keep a positive view of things, and not be so gloomy and depressed all the time. It can't be healthy. So let's get to it! Let's talk Pong!!

Q. Nice to see you're feeling a little better. OK, let's get back to the question we brought up yesterday - Are there bonus rounds in Pong?
A. No. The game ends once one player reaches 15 points. After that, it's over.

Q. As is popular with today's one-on-one games, does the winner get to continue playing?
A. No, sir. It's over for both players. More play requires more quarters.

Q. So there's no advantage to winning?
A. Winning is its own reward. Like air hockey, which Pong is most similar to. Like chess. Like...

Q. Like...life?
A. Oh, you see right through me, don't you...Yeah, like life.

Q. You don't sound too happy about it.
A. Well...I dunno. I mean, think about it. Try to look at life like a game of Pong. We're all our own little paddles, swatting around figurative balls all over the place, and for what purpose? Money? Fame? Power?

Q. It depends on what each individual considers "winning", I guess.
A. Well, of course...but take it even further. No matter who wins, or who loses, when the game's over, it's over for everyone. Think about chess a little. A friend of mine once noted that the King's greatest fear in chess is not to lose, but to win!

Q. He fears winning?
A. He fears winning over all. Because when the game has ended, and his glory is at its peak - he dies. The players wrest him from his victorious dominion, and throw him in a box, where the life quickly dissipates from his being - for that which has no purpose, and no hope, cannot truly be alive.

Q. Aren't you waxing a bit anthropomorphic?
A. Am I? Consider it. Who welcomes death more, he with everything to live for, or he with nothing to live for?

Q. What are you saying? We should strive to lose at Pong?
A. Should we strive to win, if winning itself would destroy us?

Q. That's irrelevant in this context. In life, again as in Pong, perhaps it's not WINNING that's its own reward...but playing.
A. But don't we desire to set goals? I mean, ULTIMATE goals; what we want to accomplish in life. And what then is the point of these goals, when in truth the end negates any value of anything we do?

Q. The questions you're asking are not new. But the fact remains, you are here, and you ARE playing the game. I told you yesterday to try to be happy, and that's what each of us has to do for ourselves. Do not live only to win the game. Live for each and every POINT. And there's a lot more than 15 points in life. You'll have hundreds, thousands of them each and every day. Won or lost, try to savor each volley. Think not of the end...but of the means!
A. That's beautiful. Inspiring. How'd you get to be so smart?

Q. Played a lot of Pong. The graphics are two dimensional, but the game has depth you'd never imagine.
A. You wanna play a game, just for fun?

Q. Absolutely. I'd never turn down a challenge like that.
A. Great...here's a quarter.

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Subject: Pong FAQ 0.05

Pong FAQ 0.05 (We're baaaack!)
This article copyright and otherwise property of blah blah, blah blah. To be on the mailing list, contact pinback@access.digex.net... To not be on the mailing list, completely disregard the previous line.
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: Can you believe I have actually delayed doing some real work today
: because I had to stop in to this group to find out if Ben Parrish
: had updated his Pong FAQ ??

: I thought your FAQs were hilarious, and sent them to
: alt.humor.best-of-usenet so that a wider audience nay appreciate them.

: BEAUTIFUL!!!! This gave me the best laugh I have had in a month!

Q. Anything you'd like to say to the authors of the above statements? (...and you know who you are.)
A. Absolutely. These are some of the kindest, most thoughtful comments I've ever seen. It does this oft-disillusioned heart good to see such nice sentiments coming from fellow net users. It's all the more surprising that these FAQs rapidly became egregiously off-topic, and truly irrelevant to basically everything, and still, no flames were received, and many folks went out of their way to express their appreciation. And for this, I am forever indebted. So again, lemme just say, thanks.

Q. That was very nice. A true Kodak moment. Can you explain why we haven't had an update in over five days?
A. Well, I can explain it, but it's not a very good explanation. Suffice it to say, much as I regret it, my life is comprised of more than just Pong. I'm working hard to rectify that situation, but as of this writing, I haven't been overly successful.

Q. Well...just don't leave us out in the cold too long, OK?
A. I promise you, I'll do whatever I can. Because I care, dammit!

Q. Are you ready to talk a little Pong with us, now?
A. I wouldn't even show up here if I wasn't ready to talk Pong.

Q. Glad to hear it. Let's start with this: What sort of updates and new versions of Pong have become available since its initial inception?
A. Certainly more that can be mentioned here. As far as Pong's "blood relatives" go, home versions of the game were very popular around the time of the Atari 2600, and even before that. Largely ignored as a sophisticated video game, Pong has only seen a few major attempts at resurrection since these early console-based versions appeared.

Q. And what would those be?
A. There was a 3-D version of the game released a few years ago. And more recently, we have Pong Kombat, a satirical cross between Pong and Mortal Kombat, the popular fighting game.

Q. Can you give us an FTP site or some other way of locating these games?
A. Nope.

Q. Well, what good are you, then?
A. My relationship with the game is on a much higher level than the bits and bytes that make up the actual software. Herein lies my value as a commentator. <> Q. Fascinating. OK, you've spoken of "blood relatives". What about, say, "cousins"?
A. Pong's closest cousin, and indeed its most successful relative, is the game known as Breakout. New versions and interpretations of the original Breakout can still be found in production today. Breakout, Arkanoid, Popcorn, all of these incarnations all owe a nod to Pong for their success.

Q. Why does Breakout appear to be a more popular concept than Pong?
A. I believe it is because Breakout adds one thing to the gaming environment that Pong doesn't have. Destruction. The idea in Breakout is not to best your opponent, but to eliminate it.

Q. You believe it's more popular because it's more...violent?
A. Sure. Think about it. Ever since then, over 95% of ALL video games have been of a destructive sort, in one way or the other. From Space Invaders, to Asteroids, to Robotron, to Street Fighter II, to you-name-it, virtually ALL of the successful games in our past, and present, have featured violent obliteration of the opponent as an explicit goal.

Q. You sound as if this concerns you.
A. To some extent, it does, but even more, I believe it to simply be telling. It says a lot about human nature.

Q. You're not going to go off on a long holier-than-everyone soapbox speech about how we all need to love one another, are you? Personally, I could do without that.
A. Fear not, young questioner. I do not judge human nature on a scale of right and wrong, for we are what we are. Nothing more, nothing less. In order for our earliest ancestors to survive, they had to be equipped with two things. One, the killer instinct. Two, the means to satisfy this instinct. By extrapolation, the only members of those species that survived were the ones "blessed" with an inherent gift for domination, for killing.

Q. So you're saying we all, deep down, want to kill things?
A. I'm saying we have acquired these tendencies from whence we came. Almost always, in nature's past, it was the male's job to go out and kill the aggressor, to protect his mate, his children. And you'll notice that almost all of the people that play and enjoy these types of games...

Q. ...are male?
A. You're just too quick.

Q. What does this have to do with Pong?
A. Nothing, of course. That never seemed to bother you before, though!

Q. Of course not. But perhaps your point was, while Pong appeals to us on an intellectual level, it has not retained its popularity because games which appealed to a much more fundamental level of human behavior have long since gained the favor of the gaming public.
A. Umm. Yeah! That sounds good.

Q. And you meant to point out the similarity between this relationship and the relationship of, say, chess-
A. We talked about chess last time.

Q. I know, but it's a wonderful game to cite when trying to make points. Don't interrupt me. As I was saying...and the relationship of chess to major-league sporting events, which have, basically since their inception, been more popular with the masses.
A. Makes sense to me. Is there a moral to this story?

Q. I can't really think of one. Who do you think's gonna win the Super Bowl?
A. ...uh...the Bruins?

Q. You're hopeless.
A. Yeah, well you're ugly!

Q. Shut up.
A. Make me!!

Q. You're embarassing both of us. And after those nice people said all those nice things to you.
A. I suppose you're right. Sorry, I guess it's that basic instinct for violence and aggression surfacing again.

Q. I saw that movie.
A. What movie?

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