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Humanity builds a computer network (Joshua) to command the deployment of America's nuclear arsenal in defense of itself and its NATO allies. The system even allows for simulated war games so that various nuclear war scenarios can be played out and analyzed. A teenage boy, poor and ill educated, hacks into this network one way or another. Somehow the computer system comes up with the idea of playing wargames for real. The countdown has begun, as the machine now attempts to decipher all of the launch codes so that it can launch its nuclear missiles. It seems that its time to "Play a Game." The creator of this wargames network appears baffled and every effort to disarm the missiles or the network proves futile.

In the film's end, the teengae boy has the computer play itself in a game of tic tac toe with 0 players. In essence the computer would be playing itself. Games always ended in ties. After learning the lesson of this game, the computer then proceeds to play out all the possible nuclear war scenarios. After some time it comes to the conclusion that nuclear war is a "strange game, the only way to win is not to play." Things are back to normal and the nuclear missiles are resecured and things are back to Defcon 1 where before they were at Defcon 5 readiness level for attack.

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