In ST:TNG 2:21 "Peak Performance," Data declares himself unfit for duty after losing a game of Strategema. He tells Dr. Pulaski regarding his loss:

This has indicated that I am--damaged, in some fashion. I must find the malfunction.

Eventually, Picard comes in and tells Data that not only is every decision not perfect, but:

It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness. That is life.

But Data is a Starfleet officer. He graduated Starfleet Academy. He encountered the Kobayashi Maru no-win scenario. He's familiar with the idea of making all the correct decisions and still losing--that's a fundamental principle that is taught to all cadets in the Academy. How did Data draw the conclusion that he is damaged, rather than the game being a no-win scenario, and why did Picard need to teach Data a lesson that he should have learned in the Academy?

  • Possible dupe of Could Data pass the Kobayashi Maru?
    – Valorum
    Dec 20, 2019 at 2:10
  • 3
    The point of the Kobayashi Maru wasn't that it was a no win scenario, but to test how you would react to a high stress situation. If Data took the test and then had it explained to him, he may have considered that he succeeded because he would have had no emotional reaction, or he may have perceived it as artificially rigged (but for a reason). Either way, he could have not taken away the lesson that real life has no win scenarios.
    – Kai
    Dec 20, 2019 at 5:07

1 Answer 1


Strategema is not a no-win situation (to be fair, technically neither is the Maru); it is a competitive game of some sort. While the game is never explained in depth, the visuals make it look a little like Go, with territory control being key. However it also appears to be played in real time, and it appears that each finger controls some kind of input.

Data concludes that he is damaged because, as an android, his reflexes, visual acuity and mental acuity should be superior to any biological entity.

Basically, Data has an existential crisis when one of his core beliefs is proven wrong.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.