David is a smart kid, he hacks into the school system to change his grade, even showing his skills to his classmate Jennifer, which he must know is risky; it gives you the image of a bright young man who wants to be caught so others can see his skill.
David wants to find out the code to a new game, as he searches through a list of computers to find the game company’s one, he gets a list of games, chess, poker, black jack, hearts, Falken’s maze, desert warfare, theaterwide tactical warfare and global thermonuclear war, just to name a few. He believes he’s found it.
He selects global thermonuclear war and begins to play. However, unbeknown to him, he’s gotten into WOPR (War Operation Plan Response) a military computer that simulates war. While David believes he is playing a game, he is really simulating a real war scenario which scares the military into thinking a nuclear attack has begun. When he turns off his computer, the simulation appears to have stopped but it is still running and seems to be preparing for a real nuclear war all in order to win the game.
The characters are given time to develop without taking away from the suspense and story, it keeps things balanced, always showing us that they are under a time restraint with a lot at stake, while showing us more of the characters.
The movie plays on a very real fear, which is even more prominent now. I’m writing this in 2016, 33 years after the movie, and technology has only gotten smarter. People have feared computers taking over the Earth and you can see why. Computers are smarter than us, stronger than us, faster than us and as we keep making them better, the situation of them taking over becomes more and more of a possibility, more so now we’ve started making Artificial Intelligence.
What would happen when a computer took control of a dangerous weapon? It would be our fault because we programmed them that way. Computers run on logic, it will follow through its command to illogical conclusions if it’s been programmed to and it will keep doing that over and over and over unless we reprogram it.
The characters will have to try to use logic to outsmart the computer, but how can they when computers are smarter than humans? That’s an obstacle that the characters will have to try to overcome.