Plasma Pong: A game of pong played in a plasma field

On the heels of my blogging about Tringo, a brilliant updating of the game Tetris, here’s an equally smart updating of another classic game — Plasma Pong. The concept is pretty simple: It’s a game of Pong played in a plasma field, where each paddle can generate waves that pulse through the field and interact with the ball. This allows you to produce some totally crazy effects: You opponent will bounce the ball towards you, but you’ll inject so much plasma into the field that the ball turns around midway and reverses direction.

Still, my favorite part of this isn’t the gameplay: It’s how nakedly psychedelic it is. The plasma effects — which apparently were inspired by the creator, Steve Taylor, reading this paper on “Real-Time Fluid Dynamics for Games” — make the average round look like the cover of an Iron Butterfly album. Every once in a while, I’d charge up my paddle and blast a shockwave into the plasma … then become so smitten with the teensy glowing blowback particles that I’d space out, miss the ball coming back to me, and lose the round. It’s that pretty!

(Thanks to Peter for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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