I recall a story probably 20-30 years ago (pretty sure it was a short story) in which a top gamer hears about a new computer game out that no one can beat. So he gets it and starts playing it. (Pretty sure it was before the age of playstation & x-box so it might be even older)

IIRC the game had little or no intro or rules explained. You start the game and have to figure it out.

It was an astronomical space battle puzzle. You launch your ship from a planet orbiting a sun in a binary (trinary?) system, and have to leave the system. But he finds if you boost to long, or to hard, ships from other planets (around the other stars?) will detect you, intercept, and destroy your ship.

So he starts playing and trying different things, and then goes power gamer mode, playing non-stop on caffeinated drinks and snacks for a couple days and finally solves it. I think it was by doing low powered gravity assists on a couple planets and looping around the suns a couple times until he builds up enough speed to escape the solar system.

At which point the perspective pulls back to that of a few aliens in their ship who are viewing his solution. They are amazed at his solution and how fast he solved it. They reveal that this is an actual problem they have been working on for months(?) and one of them races off to tell the crew of the real ship (a spy ship?) how to escape detection by the enemies and leave the system.

Then one of the aliens says something like, "You know, we have been having trouble planning the ground assault on xxxx planet, Maybe we should make another new computer game for the humans."

EDIT: Thinking about it now, I think I can vaguely recall an illustration of a figure-eight path the ship makes around the suns. Making me think, it might have been published in a Games or Computer Games magazine. Which would make me think it might be as old as the 1980s. (I read a lot of these in the 80s)

Its also possible it might have been in a SF&F stories magazine, although I did not read many of those except for OMNI.

  • I remember a movie with an arcade game where the character was in wireframe and the human managed to beat it, bringing some solution. It was a blue/cyan wireframe face talking. Does that ring a bell?
    – Thomas
    Feb 28, 2022 at 13:38
  • 4
    Nope not it, though that sounds very similar to "The Last Starfighter".
    – NJohnny
    Feb 28, 2022 at 23:49
  • That’s what I originally thought when I started to read your description, but I remember another one: “the bishop of battle” where a kid is managing to go through a level no one else managed to beat in an arcade, check that one out
    – Thomas
    Feb 28, 2022 at 23:53
  • But I am looking for a Short Story (or maybe novel) not a Movie.
    – NJohnny
    Feb 28, 2022 at 23:56
  • 1
    Oh ok, sorry for the confusion, I wrongly assumed it was a video you were looking for :)
    – Thomas
    Feb 28, 2022 at 23:57


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