Anyone For Centrifugal Bumblepuppy? Futuristic Games And Sports In SF

What sports have SF writers imagined that we’d be playing or watching in the future? There’s often been a strong element of social satire here, as in the TV gameshows in Robocop: the dystopian 70’s were big on ultra-violent deathsports as high-tech gladiatorial combats for the delectation of a jaded audience, with movies such as Rollerball and Death Race 2000. My favourite entry in this genre, though, was Street Football from the old 2000AD strip Mean Arena, written in the Thatcherian early 80’s when football hooliganism was at its height: entire English towns were evacuated and became warzones for warring teams armoured and armed with all manner of arcane and improbable weaponry, while a baying crowd hoped for violent death and destruction.

Star Trek* has had quite a few over the years. Here’s a nonexhaustive list - some popular now, some entirely fictional:

Dazzle Dart from Malcolm Jameson’s 1941 story "Bullard Reflects. Sorta soccer with laser beams (although lasers hadn’t been invented yet)
The Prize of Peril and The Seventh Victim by Robert Sheckley – TV “reality” shows in which the hero is in life-endangering situations of is being chased by assassins. Sheckley wrote these in the 1950s, years before King used the same idea in “The Running Man” and long before “reality” TV shows really did exist.

Kosho in the TV series “The Prisoner”. I never could make any sense out of the game, which involved martial arts, helmets, trampolines, and a pool of water.

Blernsball. They took baseball and jazzed it up.

In Battlestar Galactica, (new edition), they play a ballgame known as “Pyramid.” while it is played onscreen from time to time, it’s hard to discern any rules, except there are 2 goals, a court the size of a tennis court or smaller, and there is full contact.

Interesting factoid - in the original series, “Pyramid” was a card game and the ball sport was called “Triad.” However, in the new series it got mixed up accidentally, and now “Triad” is the poker-like card game.

Stephen King admirably predicted the rise of the reality show in The Running Man.

Oh yeah, and there was freaky roller derby in the wretched 80’s saturday afternoon apocalypse flick, Solarbabies.

There’s the deeply weird/unbearably pretentious Quintet by Robert Altman, which starred Paul Newman and was about a post-apocalytic society which seemed to be centered around playing the titular dice game.

Red Dwarf made occasional references to zero-gravity football, and Lister’s favorite player, Jim Bexley Speed.

Hadaul is a kind of king-of-the-ring all-in wrestling described in The Face, fourth book of Jack Vance’s Demon Princes series.

Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a series of novels set on Mars, & the Martians had a chess-llike game called Jetan.

Burroughs created a fully working set of rules, & in the 70s, my brothers & I created a set, & played a few games. It works! And is fairly fun.

The Rules of Jetan/Martian Chess

What? You pick one 2000AD sport and it’s not INFERNO? I mean, c’mon! It’s hockey with jetpacks and bikes with mutant cromagnons as keepers! In a league that accepts robot players!

In the Courts of the Crimson Kings by S. M. Stirling.has a nod to this. The Martians have a chesslike game which incorporates not only strategy but politics, since each piece is of variable loyalty depending on the situation.

Which mainly turns up in, believe it or not, The Chessmen Of Mars.

John Norman’s Gor has a chess variant, Kaissa, but it’s not fully realized. From context, Norman understands about issues like the comparative strengths of the Queen’s and King’s Gambits, the plus and minus points of bishop versus knight in the endgame, and the traditionally-recognised weaknesses of the Centre Counter Defence; but the descriptions he gives of the Gorean game don’t quite enable these to translate into Kaissa, after all.

Ooh, now that takes me back. Of course, the Heroes only played Inferno after they were kicked out of the Airball league: Airball was essentially basketball played with jetpacks, full body armour, spiked knuckledusters, jive talking and a massive bodycount.

Nobody seems to have predicted computer games much: in most cyberpunk futures we’d be too busy hustling a living in virtual reality hacking corporate mainframes and dodging black ice to play World of Warcraft online. Arthur C. Clarke almost got it right, though: in The City and the Stars, a fairly early story, the characters are using what’s clearly a VR setup to play D&D.

Centrifugal Bumblepuppy… sheesh, as if that can substitute for a good ol’ fashioned Fordian Community Sing!

With, of course, Orgy-porgy to follow!

Not SF, but Quidditch deserves a mention.

If you don’t want to run around and get all sweaty, there’s always the Glass Bead Game.

Who wouldn’t fancy a game of Damage :smiley:

Another not quite SF series: the books by Jasper Fforde. If I’m spelling his name right. In the Fforde books, croquet has become something like full contact. It also has so many rules that each side has an attorney and an alternate attorney to file and answer complaints. A field-side court rules quickly in game time.

Non-human players are forbidden.

Hello Again writes:

But as I already noted in post #3:

Sheckley’s stories appeared in the 1950s (and an Italian film based on “The Seveth Victim” appeared in 1965 ) , long before King was even published. According to Harlan Ellison, Sheckley spent a sleepless night before calling him and trying to figure out if King had plagiarized his work. They came to the conclusion that he’d probably read Sheckley’s stuff and forgotten it, kinda like David Gerrold’s Trouble with Tribbles and the Flatcats in Heinlein’s Rolling Stones

The first book in the Tom Corbett: Space Cadet series describes three games played at the Space Academy in the year 2353: zero-g wrestling, space chess (basically a chess game played with model spaceships) and most significantly, “Mercuryball”, which is essentially soccer with a ball loaded with mercury, making its movements erratic.