Learn the Science Behind Carnival Games—And Which Ones Are Scams

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iStock

Anyone who's spent $40 trying to win a life-sized Minion doll only to go home empty-handed knows that carnival games are a scam. But that doesn't stop many of us from falling for them. Playing for the chance to win a flashy prize can be thrilling, and more often than not, the way the games are set up is deceptively simple. Even though the odds are always stacked against you, there are ways to outsmart the trickiest booths, as former NASA engineer Mark Rober illustrates in this video spotted by Sploid.

Following an investigation at a small theme park, Rober concludes that games fall into three categories: random chance games, skill-based games, and games that are pretty much impossible. The first group includes all the games that involve tossing a ball into a field of cups and hoping it falls into the right one. These usually feature lightweight balls that tend to bounce around, so depending on your keen aim won't do you much good. The best you can do is hope that your ball is one of the 10 percent that fall into the correct cup by chance.

The next category is where you'll find the classic skill games—shooting a basketball through a hoop or knocking over a stack of bottles with a ball, for example. Carnivals use sneaky tactics to get players to overestimate their abilities here (the dimensions of the basketball "court" are slightly modified from a normal three-point throw, and the bottles in the tossing game are heavier than ones you encounter in everyday life). But if you know these tricks going in, you can develop strategies of your own to beat them.

Finally, Rober lists the games you should steer clear of altogether. The most famous of the bunch is the rope ladder game. The wide bars of the ladder make it look like it's possible to keep your balance, but because the bridge is attached at just one point on either end, crossing it is about as difficult as crawling on your hands and knees on a tight rope. After a day of observations, Rober and his team didn't see a single person walk away victorious from this booth.

Even if you think you have a knack for carnival games and some decent hand-eye coordination, the system itself is impossible to beat, because the prizes are virtually always worth less than the money you spend to win them. Winning a simple game on the first try, for instance, probably means you just spent $1.50 on a $.45 toy. Maybe see what stuffed animals they have at the dollar store down the road before blowing your paycheck at the ring toss booth.

[h/t Sploid]

8 Emojis That Caused a Public Backlash

iStock.com/Rawpixel
iStock.com/Rawpixel

With technology improving daily and the potential to colonize Mars or cure diseases looking more promising, it’s surprising we still can’t cobble together a decent bagel emoji. Earlier this month, Apple took blowback from carb lovers for their rendering of the popular baked good as part of their iOS 12.1 beta 2 rollout. The bagel was too smoothly-rendered, critics charged, and lacked cream cheese.

Apple has since fixed the bagel for their beta 4 release, but it wasn’t the first time companies have been criticized for poorly-designed emojis. Here’s what else got the thumbs down from users.

1. BURGER

Everyone loves a good burger. Virtually no one enjoys a burger with the cheese located below the patty. This gastronomic offense was committed by Google during its Android Oreo 8.0 release in 2017 and fixed in 8.1.

2. BEER

In that same 8.0 update, Google took a curious approach to a glass of beer, placing froth on top despite the glass only being half-full.

3. PAELLA

Apple added this shallow pan food assortment to iOS 10.2 in 2016 and immediately drew fire for using unconventional ingredients like shrimp, peas, and something resembling slugs. The revised version replaced them with chicken, lima beans, and green beans.

4. LOBSTER

The Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit that introduces emojis and lets tech companies arrive on final designs, got people boiling mad in early 2018 when their rendering of a lobster was missing a pair of legs and sported a misshapen tail. (Strangely, the logo for seafood dining establishment Red Lobster makes a similar mistake—their lobster has only eight legs instead of 10.)

5. SALAD

Salads are often populated with a hard-boiled egg for a little protein, so it’s understandable Google opted to include one in its salad emoji for Android P earlier this year. But vegans took issue with the egg, prompting Google to revise the bowl of greens so it contained just lettuce and tomatoes.

6. FEELING FAT

Facebook didn’t get too many “Likes” from users in 2015, when it introduced an emoji that depicted a bulbous face to signal someone was “feeling fat.” Body-positive activists argued it could constitute body-shaming. The site switched the description to “feeling stuffed.”

7. SKATEBOARD

Skateboard enthusiasts were happy when Unicode introduced a four-wheeled emoji in 2018. They were not happy the board looked like a ‘'70s relic, with divided grip tape and an overly-curved body. Skateboard legend Tony Hawk helped Unicode refine the design into something more palatable to skaters.

8. PEACH BUTT

Owing to the relative simplicity of their designs, emojis can often take on alternative meanings. The best example may be the peach, which in iOS resembles a plump little butt complete with a crack. Apple foolishly tried fixing this in 2016, rounding off the edges to look more like the fruit. Users complained, and Apple backed off. Emojipedia ran the data and discovered the emoji was most frequently used with Tweets containing the words “ass,” “badgirl,” and “booty.”

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