667: SkiFree

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And from that day on, I wore this little 'F' key pendant everywhere I went.
Title text: And from that day on, I wore this little 'F' key pendant everywhere I went.


SkiFree is a video game released in 1991 which enjoyed popularity on the desktop computers of the time. In the game, you're a downhill skier who attempts to ski down a hill while avoiding obstacles which cause you to crash (which slows you down). At the start of the game, you can choose to go down three different timed/scored courses, or ignore them all and ski freely. Beyond the end of the courses you can continue skiing downhill. You can also move (slowly) uphill and sideways.

If you ski too far down the hill a monster similar to one in the comic will begin to chase you; contact with the monster ends the game. Since it's much faster than you normally, you'll get caught. The monster also appears if you travel too far in the sideways or upwards directions.

One of the lesser known commands in SkiFree is the 'F' key, which speeds you up, even faster than the monster. A second monster appears slightly further down the hill but by skiing downhill diagonally with the F key it is possible to evade both.

The joke here is that Megan has thought long and hard about the concept of the monster, relating it to the inevitability of death, and is nonplussed by the revelation that there is a simple mechanism that may allow her to escape it, thus ruining the poetic metaphor.

The title text refers to pendants or talismans that are worn to protect oneself from harm or to remind oneself of an important truth. Megan, seeing that the F key allowed her to evade inevitable death in the game, comes to believe that the F key confers some sort of immortality. Alternatively, it may be symbolic as the monster in SkiFree seemed insurmountable (just like death) but might have a discovery in the future (the 'F' key) that can overcome it.

An additional layer of anachronistic humour may be found for the future reader due to the significance of the 'F' key here differing from in a more recent meme the reader may be familiar with where the 'F' key represents mourning instead of an easy escape from death as seen here.


[A screenshot of SkiFree, with the abominable snowman running towards the player.]
[Megan is sitting at her computer with her hands on the keyboard and thinking to herself:]
Megan (thought bubble): I've always thought of the SkiFree monster as a metaphor for the inevitability of death.
[Cueball comes up behind her in a frameless panel.]
Cueball: SkiFree, huh? You know, you can press "F" to go faster than the monster and escape.
[The screenshot again. The player is zooming away from the monster.]
[Megan sits at her computer in silence, with her hands now down to her side.]

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The reason that so many people think the monster is unbeatable is that the game was often found pre-installed on many computers along with the Windows operating system in older days. However, the game would typically be installed without any documentation, resulting in a generation of younger gamers discovering and playing the game, but not the unintuitive "F" command needed to survive the monster. Psyren (talk) 22:24, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

"F" does make you go faster than the monster, but it also makes it more likely that you'll hit an obstacle, at which point the monster will catch up and eat you. HOWEVER, if you pause the game with F3 and then repeatedly press "T", the game will go in slow motion.--Rael (talk) 20:16, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

The title text explanation is way deeper than it probably should be. Knowing Megan, she probably *literally* wore an F key pendant--looking for meaning in the wrong places. 12:53, 27 October 2017 (UTC)

Yeah but maybe that's okay. 14:45, 9 October 2018 (UTC)

This comic is much more profound when you're a Singularitarian. Huamn technology is still in its button-mashing stage, but how long until we find our F key that lets us stave off death as long as we want? Promethean (talk) 08:28, 21 December 2018 (UTC)

Has anyone noticed the term "press F to pay respects", changing the metaphor to "death is inevitable *unless you show sympathy to people*"? Just a thought 02:30, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

this comic was published in late 2009, while cod: advanced warfare (where the meme comes from) came out 5 years later 12:57, 17 May 2020 (UTC)
F 20:25, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
F 23:51, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
F 11:09, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
F --Theunlucky (talk) 17:30, 15 March 2023 (UTC)
F An user who has no account yet (talk) 22:20, 9 September 2023 (UTC)
You're all redditors. 13:35, 13 May 2024 (UTC)