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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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Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images
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science
Play a Game to Help Scientists Defeat a Cancer-Causing Toxin
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Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images

If you're used to fighting virtual zombies or flying spaceships on your computer, a new series of games available on Foldit may sound a little unconventional. The object of the Aflatoxin Challenge is to rearrange protein structures and create new enzymes. But its impact on the real world could make it the most important game you've ever played: The scientists behind it hope it will lead to a new way to fight one of the most ruthless causes of liver cancer.

As Fast Company reports, the citizen science project is a collaboration between Mars, Inc. and U.C. Davis, the University of Washington, the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa, and Thermo Fisher Scientific. The team's online puzzles, which debuted on Foldit earlier this month, invite the public to create a new enzyme capable of finding and destroying carcinogens known as aflatoxins.

Aflatoxins form when certain fungi grow on crops like corn, nuts, and grains. Developing countries often don't have the resources to detect it in food, leaving around 4.5 billion people vulnerable to it. When people do eat food with high aflatoxin levels unknowingly, they can contract liver cancer. Roughly a quarter of all liver cancer cases around the world can be traced back to aflatoxin exposure.

The toxin's connection to agriculture is why the food giant Mars is so interested in fighting it. By working on a way to stop aflatoxins on a molecular level, the company could prevent its spread more efficiently than they would with less direct methods like planting drought-resistant crops or removing mold by hand.

The easiest way for scientists to eradicate an aflatoxin before it causes real harm is by making an enzyme that does the work for them. With the Aflatoxin Challenge, the hope is that by manipulating protein structures, online players will come up with an enzyme that attacks aflatoxins at a susceptible portion of their molecular structure called a lactone ring. Destroying the lactone ring makes aflatoxin much less toxic and essentially safe to eat.

The University of Washington launched Foldit in 2008. Since then, the online puzzle platform has been used to study a wide range of diseases including AIDS and Chikungunya. Everyone is welcome to contribute to the Foldit's new aflatoxin project for the next several weeks or so, after which scientists will synthesize genes based on the most impressive results to be used in future studies.

[h/t Fast Company]

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Nervous System
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Art
Every Laser-Cut 'Geode' Jigsaw Puzzle is One of a Kind
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Nervous System

If you haven’t picked up a boxed jigsaw puzzle in a while, trust that they’ve undergone a serious transformation since your childhood. One of the most innovative companies in the category is Nervous System, a self-described “generative design studio” that composes computer programs to create puzzles based on patterns found in nature.

Their latest project, Geode, is a line of jigsaw puzzles modeled after agate stone. Like the rest of Nervous System’s puzzle inventory, it has an unusual and dynamic design; it's meant to mimic the band pattern of actual agate created by trapped gas in volcanic stone.

Several geode puzzles are shown
Nervous System

According to Nervous System’s site: “To create the organic shape of the pieces, we designed a system based the simulation of dendritic solidification, a crystal growth process similar to the formation of snowflakes that occurs in supercooled solutions of certain metallic alloys. By varying the parameter space, the system can produce a variety of cut styles. Each puzzle produced features its own unique landscape of interlocking shapes. No two are alike.”

Though lovely to look at, the puzzles utilize Nervous System's "Maze" piece-cutting method, which results in irregular and distorted shapes that may prove "fiendishly difficult" for some.

The 8.5-inch puzzles are made from plywood and feature 180 pieces. You can grab one for $60 at Nervous System’s online shop.

[h/t MyModernMet]

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