What the Flashing Lights in a Pinball Game Actually Mean

Mira Oberman, AFP/Getty Images
Mira Oberman, AFP/Getty Images

To the casual player, pinball may feel overwhelming. Lights seem to flash for no reason, extra balls pop up out of nowhere, and you can rack up millions of points without realizing it. But pinball experts know the game is about a lot more than flicking their flippers at random. As Vox lays out in their video below, each element of a pinball machine serves a purpose.

Pinball star Roger Sharpe explains to Vox that pinball is a game of skill, despite the way many novices play it. In 1976, a time when pinball machines were outlawed in New York City for being a form of gambling, Sharpe was able to convince the New York City Council that a player could control the outcome of the game if they knew what they were doing. After watching his demonstration, the city agreed to reverse the ban.

So what do pinball champions know that beginners don't? One of the most important things to remember is that the flashing lights aren't there to confuse you—they're telling you where to shoot. Some moves are worth more points at different times in the game, and paths with lit-up arrows indicate where to shoot to win big.

Like other arcade games, pinball has players work toward mini-goals, such as hitting letters on the field to spell out a word. Meet these goals and you can unlock special modes, like multiball (a.k.a. that slightly terrifying part of the game when there are multiple balls on the board at once).

Once you know the object of the game, the hard part is getting the ball to go where you want it. Sharpe suggests giving your fingers a break and slowing down your game play—instead of hitting the buttons frantically every time the ball rolls your way, practice cradling the ball in your flipper and hitting it deliberately. Now all you need to do is learn the right lingo and you're on your way to becoming a pinball wizard.

[h/t Vox]

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Living Room, Jaws Gets Its Own Board Game

Ravensburger
Ravensburger

Jaws made countless viewers terrified of the beach when it swam into theaters the summer of 1975. Luckily, you don't need to be anywhere near the water to play this new board game from Ravensburger.

Jaws the board game recreates Steven Spielberg's nautical thriller on a tabletop in your home. It features the cast of the movie as playable characters, including Quint, Hooper, Chief Brody, and the great white shark that stalks the waters outside the Martha's Vineyard-inspired Amity Island.

Like the film, the game plays out in two primary locations: on Amity Island and onboard The Orca. For the act 1 portion of the game, the human characters team up to take down the shark as it picks off Amity beachgoers. Flip the board over and it transforms into Quint's ship. For The Orca section, Quint, Hooper, and Brody try to defend their boat as the shark tears it apart. Players can either complete both acts or stick to one location for a shorter gaming experience.

The game is also a nostalgic collector's item for Jaws fans. Illustrations on the board and cards capture memorable scenes from the film, and the box itself is printed with the iconic poster art.

You can order the Jaws board game from Target for $30 in time for your summer celebrations (whether they're beach-related or not). Here are some facts about the film to read before you play.

Box of Jaws board game.
Ravensburger

Jaws board game.
Ravensburger

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Scamp the Tramp Named World’s Ugliest Dog

Scamp the Tramp won the World's Ugliest Dog contest at the Marin-Sonoma County Fair on June 21, 2019 in Petaluma, California.
Scamp the Tramp won the World's Ugliest Dog contest at the Marin-Sonoma County Fair on June 21, 2019 in Petaluma, California.
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

In a society overrun by fashion magazines, beauty contests, and Instagram models, it’s nice when the not-so-photogenic are appreciated. Take Scamp the Tramp, this year's winner of California's World’s Ugliest Dog competition. “[He’s] Scamp the Champ now,” Scamp's owner, Yvonne Morones, said of her pup's hard-won victory. “We had to change his name.”

Scamp, who was the 2018 competition's runner-up, came out on top of the dog pile against 18 other adorably ugly pooches. His winning looks are courtesy of matted fur that “no conditioner can calm,” a tongue that appears to perpetually hang from his mouth, and bat-like ears. According to his official biography, Scamp’s pastimes include partaking in various community service activities and serving as an uncle to numerous foster kittens.

UPI reports that Morones is experienced in grooming champions; she has claimed the World's Ugliest Dog title several times before with two of her previous pooches. Her dog Nana was even reigning champ from 1996 to 2002.

Morones rescued Scamp from a Los Angeles shelter in 2014, and the two quickly clicked. “It was on the way home that I knew I made the right choice,” she said in a press statement. “There we were, two strangers in a car on the way home to a new start. Bob Marley was playing ‘One Love,’ and I looked over and little Scamp was bobbing his head. It was like he knew he had found his forever home.”

First-prize winners of the World’s Ugliest Dog contest take home a trophy, $1500 in earnings that will also be matched in donations to animal charities, and validation that they’re certifiably good boys and girls.

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