In the 2270s, Will Decker showed a probe of Ilia to the display and games on the recreation deck in an attempt to revive the real Ilia's memories and emotions so as to learn about the intentions of V'ger. The attempt failed, with the Ilia probe stating that the game which the real Ilia had enjoyed served no purpose. While Decker and the probe were still on the recreation deck, the probe revealed V'ger's plans to eradicate the Enterprise crew, after which Decker suggested resurfacing the true Ilia's memories so V'ger could gain a better understanding of Humans. The Ilia probe found this logical and permitted the process. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
The Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 2, p. 207) located the recreation deck on deck seven.
According to the shooting script for the film, on the same deck as the recreation deck, there were gymnasiums, food centers, lounges, game rooms, etc.
A recreation room set had already been built on Paramount Stage 10 in the last quarter of 1977 for the abandoned television series/movie Star Trek: Phase II. This set however, was far smaller than the one seen in its immediate The Motion Picture successor and it was deemed too small for the envisioned crew gathering scene at Enterprise's mission launch. Production Designer Harold Michelson, after he was brought in in late April 1978, completely redesigned the room for it to become the largest, 24 foot high, interior set build for the movie, capable of accommodating the crowd of over 300 people. The set for the recreation deck was built on Paramount Stage 8 and cost US$ 252,000. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, pp. 93, 95)
The original room was designed by Phase II Technical Consultant Matt Jefferies, a Star Trek: The Original Series veteran, and one element of his design made it into the movie. During the production of Phase II, Jefferies received a memo on 9 September 1977 from Gene Roddenberry who, inspired by a letter he had received from a fan, wrote, "Some fans have suggested that our new Enterprise should carry a plaque somewhere which commemorates the fact it was named after the first space shuttle launched from Earth in the 1970's. This is an intriguing idea. It also has publicity advantages if properly released at the right time. [note: almost to the day, the first space shuttle, named after the fictional Enterprise had been revealed one year previously in a highly publicized ceremony with many Star Trek alumni as guests of honor, whereas Jefferies himself had less than a month earlier attended, on NASA's invitation, its first-free flight test] It won't hurt NASA's feelings either. I'll leave it to you where you want it on the vessel and who should design it." Already an accomplished aviation artist, Jefferies needed no further enticement to create the concept artwork for the historical vessels named USS Enterprise, that served as the source for the by Rick Sternbach created backlit transparencies seen on the wall of the recreation deck, starting yet another tradition that was adhered to in later Star Trek live-action incarnations. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 94; Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue SP11, p. 8)
The ships, for which Jefferies provided the artwork, seen on the wall are from left to right:
- Enterprise, an 18th century naval frigate
- USS Enterprise, the World War II US Navy aircraft carrier
- Enterprise (OV-101), the first commissioned space shuttle, whose first free-flight test Jefferies had attended
- USS Enterprise, an early Earth spacecraft and which was one of Jefferies' early design considerations for the Original Series Enterprise
- USS Enterprise, the original configuration starship
With the visual representation of the historical lineage of the Enterprise, Jefferies had created a tradition that was adhered to in later Star Trek live-action incarnations.