667: SkiFree

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 06:42, 19 August 2014 by (talk) (Explanation)
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And from that day on, I wore this little 'F' pendant everywhere I went.
Title text: And from that day on, I wore this little 'F' pendant everywhere I went.


SkiFree is a free to play video game. In it, you're a downhill skier who attempts to ski down a hill while avoiding obstacles which cause you to crash (which slows you down), at the start you can choose to go down three different timed/scored courses or ignore them all and ski freely. Beyond the end of the courses you can continue sking downhill. You can also move (slowly) uphill and sideways.

If you ski too far down the hill a monster similar to one in the comic will begin to chase you, contact with the monster ends the game. Since it's much faster than you normally, you'll get caught. The monster also appears if you travel too far in the sideways or upwards directions.

One of the lesser known commands in SkiFree is the 'F' key, which speeds you up, even faster than the monster. A second monster appears slightly further down the hill but by skiing downhill diagonally with the F key it is possible to evade both.

The joke here is that Megan has thought long and hard about the concept of the monster, relating it to the inevitability of death, and is nonplussed by the revelation that there is a simple mechanism that may allow her to escape it.

The title text refers to pendants or talismen that are worn to protect us from harm or to remind us of important truths. Here, it's implied that even though we currently accept that we cannot avoid death, maybe we just haven't found our 'F' command yet, and we should not give up all hope.


[A screenshot of SkiFree, with the abominable snowman running towards the player.]
[Megan is sitting at her computer.]
Megan: I've always thought of the SkiFree monster as a metaphor for the inevitability of death.
[Cueball comes up behind her.]
Cueball: SkiFree, huh? You know, you can press "F" to go faster than the monster and escape.
[The screenshot again. The player is zooming away from the monster.]
[Megan sits at her computer in silence.]
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The reason that so many people think the monster is unbeatable is that the game was often found pre-installed on many computers along with the Windows operating system in older days. However, the game would typically be installed without any documentation, resulting in a generation of younger gamers discovering and playing the game, but not the unintuitive "F" command needed to survive the monster. Psyren (talk) 22:24, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

"F" does make you go faster than the monster, but it also makes it more likely that you'll hit an obstacle, at which point the monster will catch up and eat you. HOWEVER, if you pause the game with F3 and then repeatedly press "T", the game will go in slow motion.--Rael (talk) 20:16, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

The title text explanation is way deeper than it probably should be. Knowing Megan, she probably *literally* wore an F key pendant--looking for meaning in the wrong places. 12:53, 27 October 2017 (UTC)