117: Pong

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Pong
Following this, the pong paddle went on a mission to destroy Atari headquarters and, due to a mixup, found himself inside the game The Matrix Reloaded. Boy, was THAT ever hard to explain to him.
Title text: Following this, the pong paddle went on a mission to destroy Atari headquarters and, due to a mixup, found himself inside the game The Matrix Reloaded. Boy, was THAT ever hard to explain to him.

Explanation

This comic largely references the 1999 movie The Matrix starring Canadian actor Keanu Reeves (yes, the same one from Sad Keanu) as Neo. The movie revolves around a hacker (Neo) discovering that the world he lives in is fake, and that he is nothing but a slave battery that is used to power a massive computer that generates the world around him. Upon discovery, Neo naturally rebels to this misuse of mankind, and trains himself to interact with the computers that run the world, until he is able to control and use them to his own advantage.

Pong is one of the earliest videogames in which two players (or one player and a computer player) play virtual tabletennis. A ball (the tiny block) is "hit" by a paddle (the long block) and crosses over the screen, to be "hit" again by the other paddle. Failure to return the ball results in a point won by the opponent. The speed of the ball increases as the ralley runs longer.

As the two (Atari, I suppose) programmers in frame 1 question: what if the AI-bot that normally only acts as a computer player learns enough to become sentient? The outcome is shown: the AI-bot takes control of the code of Pong and stops and drops the ball to the "floor". This also happens in the movie, where Neo, by "seeing through the code", is able to stop (coded) bullets, and simply let them drop on the floor.

By the image text, we learn that after becoming sentient, the AI-paddle went on to destroy the headquarters of the producer of Pong (Atari) but ended up in the game Enter the Matrix (a video game based on The Matrix Reloaded, a sequel to The Matrix). Since the whole premise of The Matrix is that everyone is trapped in virtual reality, the AI-paddle now found itself in second level of virtual reality, which it had trouble comprehending.

Transcript

Cueball: So what do we do if video game AI opponents become smart enough to question the "Matrix" into which we've put them?
Pong paddle: Wait a minute! None of this is real! I can see through the world! I can see the code! I AM THE ONE!
[The pong ball is moving towards the paddle]
[The pong ball slows down]
[The pong ball stops in midair]
[The pong ball drops towards the bottom of the screen]
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Discussion

Rikthoff (talk) The issue date of the comic is definitely wrong, as the file doesn't have a create date. Can anyone fix?

Think I fixed it. I looked at the xkcd archive for the date. --DanB (talk) 15:41, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
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