The Sad Story Of The Man Who Really, Really Wanted An Xbox Kinect
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A couple gaming generations ago, the big new gimmick was motion controls. Instead of just hitting buttons, you could wiggle and slide around by waving in front of a Microsoft Kinect or with a Sony Move controller. It would make you feel like you were in the game and was sure to make games more fun!
It turned out not to be fun at all. Instead of immersing you into games, it shattered immersion by making you constantly pay attention to your own hands instead of the game. But until everyone realized how bad motion controls were, people were convinced it was the future. People like New Hampshire man Henry Gribbohm. In 2013, Henry wanted a Kinect and had a great scheme to get his hands on one: by playing a game.
Playing a carnival game, that is. A local carnival was hosting a game called Tubs of Fun, where he just had to toss a ball into a tub. If he won, he could get a Kinect. He gave it a shot, and while the game looked easy enough, his ball kept bouncing out.
The carny (an independent contractor, which meant the fair denied liability for his shenanigans) offered Henry a deal: He could keep playing for double or nothing, and win back all his money in addition to winning the Kinect. Henry took him up on this, played some more, and soon was out $300. He went home and fetched even more money, to double down on his losses. Note: Never ever do this, whether you're trying a game of skill, in a casino, or playing the stock market.
Henry lost $2,600 that day. With that sum, he could have bought almost 20 Kinects. He won no Kinect, but the carnival did give him a giant stuffed banana with dreadlocks for his trouble.
The carnival game was rigged, he later insisted to the news and the police. It probably was—many carnival games are, and you should only take part if you're with friends and think the game itself is fun, even with no prize. With Tubs of Fun, the ball may be designed to always bounce out unless another ball's already in the tub to cushion the impact.
Hopefully, Henry can console himself by knowing that motion controls soon fell out of fashion. Until virtual reality headsets eventually made them actually work well, their biggest legacy was in giving us an excuse to keep embedding this video of the terrible Star Wars Kinect dance game:
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To relive the weird history of the Kinect as it happened, check out: