Everyone remembers the scene in Tron in which Jeff Bridges, forced to take part in a gladiatorial lightcycle race, drives through an opening smashed into the light cycle arena’s wall by a pixelaciously kablooied foe and escapes into the larger electronic world outside… the first step towards bringing down the fascist Master Control Program.
This, then: Daniel Wellman’s incredible reminiscence about the his own Tron Lightcycles game on the Apple IIgs, the incredible escape of one of the AIs into the memory outside the system and its successful, guerilla-like struggle to bring down Apple’s own MCP.
One day, when Marco and I were playing against two computer opponents, we forced one of the AI cycles to trap itself between its own walls and the bottom game border. Sensing an impending crash, it fired a missile, just like it always did whenever it was trapped. But this time was different – instead of firing at another trail, it fired at the game border, which looked like any other light cycle trail as far as the computer was concerned. The missile impacted with the border, leaving a cycle-sized hole, and the computer promptly took the exit and left the main playing field. Puzzled, we watched as the cycle drove through the scoring display at the bottom of the screen. It easily avoided the score digits and then drove off the screen altogether.
Shortly after, the system crashed.
Our minds reeled as we tried to understand what we had just seen. The computer had found a way to get out of the game. When a cycle left the game screen, it escaped into computer memory – just like in the movie.
Forget Disney’s upcoming sequel, this should be the plot to Tron 2.0.