Stargate Atlantis

Season 3 Episode 15

The Game

Aired Friday 10:00 PM May 11, 2007 on Syfy
out of 10
User Rating
341 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

To while away the hours, Sheppard and McKay have been secretly competing against one another in a real-time strategy game they discovered on Atlantis. To their surprise, they discover that this is more than just a game....

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  • See Summary

    This was a very exciting episode of Stargate Atlantis. The Game makes Age of Empires look like childs play (which I suppose it is to a degree) especially to the Ancients own version of such a game, if it could be called that. One of the Atlantis teams discovers a society that is not very advanced, but there are satellites over the planet. They discover that a game McKay and Sheppard had been playing, was in fact an Ancient device to guide people on this planet to see how to develop civilizations after planting human life upon planets throughout the universe. It was very interesting to watch the ramifications, and how it might feel to be a true God to real people. Definitely an episode worth watching!!!!moreless
  • This episode shows some Rodney&John friendship, showing how they play games together. It also shows how mean Elizabeth can be when Sheppard and McKay get in trouble together.

    First, the John & Rodney relationship in this episode was very nice to see. The writers seemed to somehow know that the fans felt that the brains and the brawns were good friends, and I am glad the show is finally actually showing that, instead of just letting us guess that they are good friends. Now, unto how mean Elizabeth was in this episode. It showed that even if she was friends with the Col. and Dr., she still had to deal with them like a leader. That was shown especially where she discovers Lorne and Zelenka playing the game. This episode makes the structure of Atlantis clearer, and the relations with the team members clearer. It shows how close all of the expedition members are. I thought it was a great episode, but moved to quickly. Can't blame anyone though, the "Powers that Be" (writers, directors, producers, SciFi representatives) do have a time limit. Oh well, I was good anyhow.moreless
  • Interesting idea!

    This episode - it was so different and even though it had a lot of action and the character action, mostly it was not about them. It was the ideological dilemma and somehow the whole episode tried to answer to the question McKay asked at the start of the episode. It was so complicated theme and the way they solved it - it really looked so exploding. They way the game went... the idea that the game was not a game but became something larger - it was reality and the hostility between two cultures was their to blame. The angle, the idea this episode show - that people who know not much, can ruin and guide others.. what wrong can they done... super!moreless
  • funny...

    McKay and John have been playing an ancient game for two years, but it turned out it was real. They were both oracles of their respected countries and they started a war that they almost couldn't stop. I loved the little bickering between McKay and John and the bickering between the two country leaders. Halarious. It was really interesting to see the differences in the countries and how it related to the characters of John and McKay. McKay had a more technologically advanced society while John focused on his military. Anyways, this was a great funny episode with an interesting plot.moreless
  • SGA does "Civilization". And "A Taste of Armageddon". And "Ender's Game"...

    The previous episode felt like the SGA version of “Flowers for Algernon”. This episode immediately feels like the SGA version of “Ender’s Game” or “A Taste of Armageddon” from the original “Star Trek”, with a bit of the classic game “Civilization” tossed in for good measure. Why it would take three people to develop such a derivative story is hard to imagine, and of course, having so many cooks in the kitchen is a recipe for disaster.

    The concept is always interesting, of course, because of the ethical issues involved. If nothing else, it’s hard to reconcile how entire societies would hand over their progress to an unseen “oracle”. It certainly adds another questionable layer to the Ancients’ intervention in the progress of less “evolved” civilizations.

    The success of the episode lies in two areas: how each society fits within the personality of its “oracle”, and how the ethical quandary of controlling a civilization is addressed. The personality question is obvious in some ways, subtle in others. McKay’s society is all about scientific progress, and Sheppard’s society is aggressive and somewhat paranoid. The usual tension between McKay and Sheppard, particularly their competitive nature, is expressed very clearly.

    As one might expect, people will make decisions and authorize actions that they usually would never agree with, if it’s all in the name of playing a game. In computer games in particular, aggression is practically a given. After all, conflict is a quick and easy source of action and excitement. Of course, in the real world, that’s not practical and completely unethical.

    For all that McKay and Sheppard attempt to bring things back on track, the damage is done. It’s interesting to see how the two of them continue to think of the two nations as their own, even when it’s clear that the game is over. That adds to the ethical discussion. After all, forcing a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the conflict is, in essence, a continuance of the meddling, only with Weir in the driver’s seat. That measure is equally ineffective.

    The end of the episode is a bit of a cop-out, though it wasn’t entirely unexpected. It would have been more interesting had the conflict been unavoidable, with McKay and Sheppard forced to deal with the material and psychological consequences. Instead, all’s well that ends well, and by the very end, it’s almost like nothing happened. It’s an unsatisfying end to what was a surprisingly effective episode.moreless
Joe Flanigan

Joe Flanigan

Major / Lt. Colonel John Sheppard

Rachel Luttrell

Rachel Luttrell

Teyla Emmagan

David Hewlett

David Hewlett

Dr. Rodney McKay

Jason Momoa

Jason Momoa

Ronon Dex

Torri Higginson

Torri Higginson

Dr. Elizabeth Weir

Laura Harris

Laura Harris


Guest Star

James Long

James Long


Guest Star

John Shaw

John Shaw


Guest Star

Kavan Smith

Kavan Smith

Major Evan Lorne

Recurring Role

David Nykl

David Nykl

Dr. Radek Zelenka

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (12)

    • Goof: When Sheppard and Baden are talking in the mess hall, Baden's cup changes position between shots.

    • Among the items seen in the village are an early design for a telescope, photography flash powder and a penny farthing.

    • The ethical dilemma McKay tries to explain in the beginning of the episode is a famous experiment by acclaimed psychologist Marc Hauser. However, McKay does not explain the scenario quite right: there are only 5 people (not 10) standing on the railroad tracks with the train coming at them and one person (not a baby) on another set of tracks. The part about the switch and choosing between who dies is quite correct. This scenario was only one of two in the experiment: in the other one, the only way to save the 5 people is to bodily push another person from the platform and into the train's path. The point of the experiment was to prove that human moral and ethics are instinctive rather than cognitive.

    • Sheppard: Maybe we should stick em in a room, force them to come to an agreement.

      This is probably a direct reference to the SG-1 Season 8 episode "Zero Hour" in which General O'Neill locks two off-world diplomats in a room because he was annoyed with their behavior which was similar to McKay and Sheppard's leaders. In O'Neill's case, it actually worked.

    • There are dozens of countries all over the Pegasus Galaxy under scrutiny from the Ancient Sociology Experiment satellites that relay information back to Atlantis' Game Room.

    • In the beginning of the episode, the team 'discusses' an ethical dilemma which "Katie Brown brought up over dinner [with McKay] the other night". This marks the first mention of Dr. Brown since "Duet".

    • The hairstyle of the Geldar leader, Nola, closely resembles that of Stargate SG-1's Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), short and blonde. Many other Geldars share this similar trait. This trait was "configured" by McKay early in the "game"

    • Geldar is the last name of a girl that McKay had an interest in during his college years, Teresa Geldar, he apparently went on two dates with the girl in question but Sheppard doubts that fact.

    • McKay passed on some of his personal phobias to the people of Geldar, warning them of the "toxicity" of citrus and the dangers of the Sun.

    • When Rodney and Nola are in the mess hall, Nola is eating blue Jell-O and she comments on how delicious it is. This is another reference to Stargate SG-1's Samantha Carter, who is often seen eating blue Jell-O.

    • The scientifically advanced Geldar dress in and use light colors for their nation, whereas the warlike Halonan nation wears and use dark colors.

    • The Geldar national flag was modeled after the Canadian flag with Rodney McKay's face in the place of the maple leaf in the center.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Baden: You are the Oracle?
      Sheppard: I'm your Oracle, yes.(pauses) That doesn't sound right.

    • Nola: You sent crates of citrus fruit! Citrus! Do you have any idea what an insult that is to my people?
      Baden: Didn't used to be.
      Weir: Okay, see, I think I know where that comes from. Did the Oracle tell you that citrus fruit was bad?
      Nola: He made us aware of its toxic properties, yes.

    • Sheppard: The first thing Rodney did after naming his country was stick his face on the flag.

    • McKay: Yeah, don't worry we're gonna stick to chess from now on.
      Sheppard: As long as Rodney doesn't cheat.
      McKay: Oh please, like I need to cheat playing you.
      Weir: OK, I'll leave you to it then.
      McKay: Ha!
      Sheppard: Ha! Check Mate.
      McKay: What? Oh, no, no, no, no, no. What happened there?
      Sheppard: What happened there is I just kicked your ass.
      McKay: No, no, I was distracted. She was, uh...OK were going again. Best of ten.

    • Lorne: What are you talking about! It's a perfectly reasonable request!
      Zelenka: Yeah, perfectly reasonable. I give you all of my food and my people starve.
      Lorne: I'm not asking you to give me all your food! Plus I did say we would make a deal.
      Zelenka: Oh yeah, baskets!
      Lorne: Big baskets! Two dozen of them, hand woven and very nice.
      Zelenka: Very nice? What am I going to put in them? Huh? Certainly not food!
      Lorne: You know what? I think you're holding out on me. I think you have plenty of food!
      Zelenka: Are you calling me a liar!?
      Lorne: No, I think you're trying to squeeze me for a better deal, that's what I think.
      Zelenka: Oh! I've got nothing to hide!
      Lorne: OK! OK! We'll send some of our army troops down and we'll have a look!
      Weir: What the hell are you two doing!?... I thought I gave specific orders to stay away from this device?
      Zelenka: Yes, yes you did.
      Lorne: We just saw that there were some people in trouble and we thought that maybe we could, ah, help.
      Weir: No! No more help, clearly we are not qualified. Now turn this thing off, disconnect the power and seal the room.
      Zelenka: Yeah, but, OK...
      Weir: Now!
      Zelenka: Mmm... yes ma'am.

    • Ronon: So how do you win this game?
      Sheppard: Its not really about winning.
      McKay: Its more about who's society out shines the other, i mean who creates the better infrastructure, who's better at trade.
      (Rodney looks at John and John gives him a dirty look)
      McKay: What!? Don't start, I tried to negotiate with you.
      Sheppard: Making a list of demands and not giving anything in return is not negotiating.
      McKay: I offered you an entire crop of beans.
      Sheppard: I don't need beans, I need lumber.
      McKay: Oh right! To build defensive fortifications for your army! Which he doubled in size by the way. Surprise. Surprise.
      Sheppard: I only did that after you started cheating.
      McKay: I did not cheat!
      Sheppard: (to Ronon and Teyla) He's giving his people way too much technology for their level of development. (To Rodney) I'm not the only one increasing my army by the way.
      McKay: I had to do something to protect the people of Geldar from you!
      Ronon: Geldar!?
      Sheppard: Its the name of Rodney's country. Named it after a girl he stalked in college.
      McKay: I did not stalk her, we dated twice. Teresa Geldar, very cute blonde. I always thought her name reminded me of a mythical land. The Kingdom of Geldar!

    • McKay: Let me ask you a question. Say there is a runaway train. It's hurtling out of control towards ten people standing in the middle of the tracks. The only way to save those people is to flip a switch and send the train down another set of tracks. The only problem is... there is a baby in the middle of those tracks.
      Teyla: Why would anyone leave a baby in harm's way like that?
      McKay: Well, I don't know. It's not the point. It's an ethical dilemma. Look, Katie Brown brought it up over dinner the other night. The question is: Is it appropriate to divert the train and kill the one baby to save the ten people?
      Ronon: Wouldn't the people just see the train coming and move?
      McKay: No, no, they wouldn't see it.
      Ronon: Why not?
      McKay: Well... Look... I don't know. Say they're blind.
      Teyla: All of them?
      McKay: Yes, all of them.
      Ronon: Then why don't you just call out and tell them to move out of the way?
      McKay: It's because they can't hear you.
      Sheppard: What they're deaf too? How fast is the train going?
      McKay: But the speed doesn't matter!
      Sheppard: Well, sure it does, if it's going slow enough you could out run it and shove everyone to the side.
      Ronon: Or better yet, go get the baby.
      McKay: For God's sake, I was just--

  • NOTES (6)

    • The majority of the computer screens in this episode were visual effects as opposed to the usual playback, due to this episode relying heavily on on-screen visuals.

    • A dark haired lady can be seen in the background of three scenes in this episode. This lady was the winning bidder of an auction to be a Stargate Atlantis extra, paying approximately $7,000 for the experience, all of which went to charitable causes.

    • When Laura Harris (Nola) is eating the blue jello during the mess hall scene, her teeth turn a shade of blue. Director Will Waring states in the DVD commentary that he would have initially liked to have re-done the scene but in hindsight he thought it looked funny.

    • Paul McGillion does not appear in this episode.

    • John Shaw (Garth) previously played Dr. Freisen in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Descent".

    • International Air Dates:

      -This episode aired in Canada on December 18, 2006 on Movie Central and February 5, 2007 on The Movie Network.
      -This episode aired in the UK on February 7, 2007 on Sky One.
      -Syndication Premiere: February 16-17, 2008.
      -This episode aired in Australia on June 5, 2008 on Channel 7.
      -This episode aired in the Czech Republic on June 8, 2009 on AXN Sci-fi.


    • McKay: Her name reminded me of a mythical land. The Kingdom of Geldar!

      Rodney says it's the name of a girlfriend of his, but it can also be an allusion to Princess Bride, where the neighbor country to Florin, with whom Prince Humperdinck wants to start a war, is called Guilder.

    • Sid Meier's Civilization:

      The game that McKay and Sheppard are playing is like Civilization in that you take your civilization through many ages, technologies and make war on each other.

    • Nola: Ask not what Geldar can do for you, but what you can do for Geldar.

      This is an allusion to the speech from the inaugural address of President John F. Kennedy, delivered in 1961 ("Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country").