As designer Pippin Barr will readily admit, his games tend to be based more on concepts than on "fun" in any traditional sense — just try beating the final round of Epic Sax Game. With Pongs, however, Barr has taken a surprising turn into the realm of enjoyment. Some of these 36 variations on the classic table tennis adaptation riff on other games like B.U.T.T.O.N. and Snake, while others add simple but satisfying mechanics like a ball that splits in two or a net that must be knocked apart before you can hit the ball to your opponent.
Pongs was inspired by Barr's experience with Painstation, a shock-administering variation on what Barr calls "the most abstract, most 'pure' videogame out there." Changing tiny rules in such a stripped-down game, he says, helps distill how play actually works. It's also a chance to adapt one of the world's most recognizable games into turn-based and invisible variations, or to make players answer multiple-choice geography questions in an "edutainment" version. All 36 games can be played over here.