Insert Quarter: Is Uber’s CEO the Second-Best Wii Sports: Tennis Player in the World?


Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Whether they’re disrupting the marketplace or reinventing the workflow, Silicon Valley executives love to brag. And Uber CEO Travis Kalanick might be the biggest braggart of them all. Kalanick loves to say that his glorified taxi company is changing the way we think about transportation, but did you know that he also dominates the competition on the tennis court in Wii Sports? To hear him tell it, he even holds the second-best ranking on the game’s worldwide leaderboard.

But wait a minute, you say, I don’t think there is a worldwide leaderboard in Wii Sports. And you would be correct. Such a ranking is completely fictional. So what is Kalanick talking about? Kyle Orland, of Ars Technica, decided to find out.

Orland talked to Kalanick’s business partners to learn the history of the anecdote, and studied the scoring algorithm in Wii Sports to determine if its even possible to be the “second-best” Wii Sports tennis player:

I’ve spent an admittedly ridiculous amount of time looking into this one sentence over the past few days. As it turns out, getting to the bottom of Kalanick’s Wii Sports skill requires delving into the vagaries of human memory, reverse engineered asymptotic leveling systems, and the semantic meaning of video game achievement itself.

Cannily quoting The Simpsons, Orland decrees that Kalanick’s claim is true (“Short answer: ‘Yes, with an if…’ “), but only if you filter out all the gibberish and then completely misidentify the scoring system used in Wii Sports (” Long answer: ‘No, with a but…’ “). But Orland turns it all into a compelling narrative, and it’s a great way to spend part of your Saturday.

You can read the full explanation at Ars Technica.

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John Scalzo is Warp Zoned’s Editor-In-Chief and resident retro gaming expert. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at john AT warpzoned DOT com.

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