NASA Engineer Proves Arcade Game is a Scam

Arcade games as a staple in the lives of young children. These colorful and noisy games are the physical embodiment of fun and provide hours and hours of fun. However, they can also seem like a scam, with the big jackpot just out of reach, and that makes people believe that the games are rigged.

One NASA scientist decided to take the extra step and figure out if and how these arcade games are a scam. The first example is the Cyclone, a game where a light blinks fast in a circle and you press a button to stop the light. The goal is the stop the light underneath one of the glowing arches to win a jackpot.

Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer, took to YouTube to figure out how this game works and exactly how easy it is to win. First, he rebuilt the mechanism that activates the game. Then he tested the precise machine that he built, which is exactly what is inside the Cyclone machine.

The object of the game is for the light to stop in the exact right spot, but sometimes it lands early and sometimes it lands late. Rober’s machine actually allowed him to hit a jackpot quite easily in the first few tries. He discovered that he hits a jackpot about every thirty tries, which increases a players frustration so they continue to play the game.

Even more interesting is that the ability to win a jackpot is not entirely left up to chance. Apparently, the owner’s manual for the cyclone game actually states that the operator of the machine can set how often the cyclone machine hits a jackpot, so yes, the game is definitely rigged. So, you can hit the button at the right moment, and the light might stop and it might not.