the story: Wesley returns on break from Starfleet Academy to discover something's wrong with the crew.
similar to: "Genesis" (Next Generation)
my thoughts: It's fascinating that Wesley's very first episode back since his departure as a regular in the previous season, is quite possibly the perfect example of everything the series needed to correct about the character and needed to redeem in the first place. Wes was the typical boy wonder, the kid genius who quickly became annoying to a considerable proportion of fans. "The Game" is literally about a crisis only he can overcome.
Yet it works, and is arguably one of his best episodes, if not his most memorable episode, not just because Ashley Judd was particularly adorable as his love interest, but because the whole setup is cleverly thought out, so that you don't even need to think of it as an analogy for the rising evils of video games in 1991 America.
By quickly eliminating the need to focus on, well, anyone else but Wes and Judd's Robin Lefler, the viewer is allowed to focus both on how cute they are together, and the mounting dread of the inexplicable conspiracy (better than the actual episode "Conspiracy," arguably) that has sucked everyone else into it.
...But yes, you have to ignore the convenience of everyone, even Picard, falling for the gaming scam. If you can ignore that, you will enjoy "The Game" a great deal!
So that leaves Data, and the further convenience of someone being cognizant enough to take him out in order for everything to work. Really, it's to the level of everyone but Kirk succumbing to Sybok's charms in The Final Frontier. You don't have to be bothered by such niggling details, but they exist, and how much they bother you will probably color what you think of the rest of it, much like fans don't care how much Kirk bonds with Spock and McCoy around campfires.
But rest assured, it really is possible.
Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher)
Colm Meaney (O'Brien)
Patti Yasutake (Ogawa)