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10 Kind-of-Violent Board Games from the 1960s

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We didn’t have video games like Mortal Kombat or Grand Theft Auto back in the 1960s, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t get our whacks in during play time. We just used board games and our friends and family members as real-life targets for our beat-downs. I think the moral of the story is that no matter what the era and how limited the technology, kids just plain love to smash and blow up things. How many of these games do you remember?

1. Swack

The object here was to remove a piece of plastic cheese without the spring-loaded mousetrap snapping shut on your fingers. The winner was the player with the most cheese and all his fingers intact.

2. Booby Trap

This was another remove-a-piece-without-triggering-the-thingy game. Usually your fingers didn’t get caught when the Booby Trap snapped, but those little pieces ejected with some impressive velocity. It was all good clean fun until someone caught one in the eye.

3. Bash

Players took turns slicing away at the column of round and square plastic disks that separated the head from the feet. The objective was to knock the pieces out one at a time to eventually make the head and feet meet. If you knocked the whole stack over, you were out. But no one really cared about the official rules—it was more fun just to see how far you make all the pieces fly at once. Once you got bored with picking up and re-stacking the disks, you could always just use that plastic hammer to play “one lump or two?” with your unsuspecting younger siblings…

4. Kaboom

Board Game Geek

This game by Ideal involved placing a balloon on the inflator gizmo and slowly inflating it, one pump at a time. Again, very few kids I knew actually played this game according to the official rules; it always became a contest of just experimenting with the pump to see how loud of a “pop!” you could make with the balloon.

5. Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots

Back in the day when Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots were all the rage, if you complained to a parent that your thumbs or wrists hurt after playing a game for hours on end, you’d get a shrug and an “it’s your own darned fault” chastisement. In more recent years, concerned moms have consulted the pediatrician about their children’s finger pains so frequently that “Texting Tendontitis” and “Blackberry Thumb” eventually became bona fide medical diagnoses.

6. Fang Bang

Balloon HQ

This odd little game came with scary face masks for each player to wear, presumably for the dual purpose of intimidating your opponents while also protecting you from losing an eye while everyone flailed about with these plastic snake-headed balloons. Allow me to clarify—each player inflated an elongated balloon, affixed the serpent head on the end, and that became his “weapon.” The snake’s tongue was abrasive enough to pop a balloon if it struck just so. Sort of like a lightsaber fight with the added bonus of bursting balloons.

7. Slap Trap

Talk about a broken finger waiting to happen: The object of this game was to successfully retrieve a specific “beetle bug” from the platter before the big ol’ bully in charge of the domed cover slammed it down in an attempt to hoard all the bugs in order to earn points.

8. Dynamite Shack

Apparently even in the 1960s the word “dynamite” in the title of a kids’ game prompted a safety disclaimer on the box to reassure parents that no actual explosives were included with the game tokens. This game was an exercise in manual dexterity—you had to don oversized plastic thumbs and use them to pick up tiny plastic bundles of dynamite and deposit them in the tiny chimney. The object was to drop in all of your dynamite before the roof of the shack blew off.

9. Cold Feet

I know my Dad would laugh in a good-natured “Aw, you got me!” fashion if he got squirted in the face with water during a friendly board game—NOT!  And I know my Mom would’ve made us play this outside so we didn’t get water all over the ... (fill in the blank). So, anyway, that’s why my parents never bought us kids a board game that featured a water gun as its centerpiece.

10. Bang Box

Anyone else beginning to wonder if some executive in the balloon industry held a lot of stock in Ideal and Milton-Bradley? Bang Box is yet another balloon-based game, in which small, inflated balloons are stuffed inside a plastic container perforated with random holes, much like a magician’s box. Players must hammer a prescribed number of plastic nails into the holes of their choice in the hope that they don’t burst any of the enclosed balloons. One “pop!” and you’re out.

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UsTwo
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This Augmented-Reality App Makes the Hospital Experience Less Scary for Kids
UsTwo
UsTwo

Staying in a hospital can be a scary experience for kids, but a little distraction can make it less stressful. According to studies conducted by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, UK, distracted patients have an easier time with their appointments and require less pain medication. Now, Co.Design reports that the hospital is releasing its own app designed to keep children entertained—and calm—from the moment they check in.

The Android and iOS app, called Alder Play, was designed by ustwo, the makers of the wildly popular smartphone game Monument Valley and the stress relief tool Pause. Patients can download the app before they arrive at the hospital, choosing a virtual animal buddy to guide them through their stay. Then, once they check into the hospital, their furry companion shows them around the facility using augmented-reality technology.

The app features plenty of fun scavenger hunts and other games for kids to play during their downtime, but its most important features are designed to coach young patients through treatments. Short videos walk them through procedures like blood tests so that when the time comes, the situation will feel less intimidating. And for each step in the hospitalization process, from body scans to gown changes, doctors can give kids virtual stickers to reward them for following directions or just being brave. There’s also an AI chatbot (powered by IBM’s Watson) available to answer any questions kids or their parents might have about the hospital.

The app is very new, and Alder Hey is still assessing whether or not it's changing their young hospital guests’ experiences for the better. If the game is successful, children's hospitals around the world may consider developing exclusive apps of their own.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Cell Free Technology
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This Pixel Kit Will Let You Play Tetris With Jellyfish DNA
Cell Free Technology
Cell Free Technology

Forget playing Tetris on your phone. Now you can play it with jellyfish DNA. Bixels is a DIY game kit that lets you code your own games using synthetic biology, lighting up a digital display with the help of DNA.

Its 8-by-8 pixel grid is programmed to turn on with the help of the same protein that makes jellyfish glow, called green fluorescent protein (GFP). But you can program it to do more than just passively shine. You can use your phone and the associated app to excite Bixels' fluorescent proteins and make them glow at different frequencies, producing red, blue, and green colors. Essentially, you can program it like you would any computer, but instead of electronics powering the system, it's DNA.

Two blue boxes hold Bixel pixel grids.

Researchers use green fluorescent protein all the time in lab experiments as an imaging agent to illuminate biological processes for study. With Bixels, all you need is a little programming to turn the colorful lights (tubes filled with GFP) into custom images or interactive games like Tetris or Snake. You can also use it to develop your own scientific experiments. (For experiment ideas, Bixels' creator, the Irish company Cell-Free Technology, suggests the curricula from BioBuilder.)

A screenshot shows a user assembling a Bixel kit on video.

A pixel kit is housed in a cardboard box that looks like a Game Boy.

Bixels is designed to be used by people with all levels of scientific knowledge, helping make the world of biotechnology more accessible to the public. Eventually, Cell-Free Technology wants to create a bio-computer even more advanced than Bixels. "Our ultimate goal is to build a personal bio-computer which, unlike current wearable devices, truly interacts with our bodies," co-founder Helene Steiner said in a press release.

Bixels - Play tetris with DNA from Cell-Free Technology on Vimeo.

You can buy your own Bixel kit on Kickstarter for roughly $118. It's expected to ship in May 2018.

All images courtesy Cell-Free Technology

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