December 28th, 2003


Dave watches too much Game Show Network

I think that the title won't meet with any actual argument.

I was assembling some shelves this afternoon, and turned on GSN, and they were playing a documentary of the guy in 1983 who won over $100,000 on "Press Your Luck". You remember that show, probably. "Big money, no whammies, STOP!"

I probably only watched it in syndication, so the events of the documentary had come and gone before I was even aware of the show. Seems the guy worked out the five sequences that the lights would cycle through so that he could - with good hand/eye coordination - accumulate money and spins at will.

The producers of the show, the host of the show, not to mention the other contestants, nobody expected or really even believed that this kind of performance was possible.

The subtitle of the documentary was "The Press Your Luck Scandal". So I ask you - this guy, an antisocial geek, learned how to play the game very very well. Was there anything wrong with what he did?

My own opinion: No, nothing wrong. I might accuse him of being a poor sport - the other contestants had no fun after he started his streak, but he got a bunch of money through an "exploit", and good for him. CBS spent more money on the hardware behind the scenes afterward, and the new incarnation of Press Your Luck is even less open to that sort of exploit.

ObDisclosure: Computer gaming isn't free of this sort of concern. Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, The Sims Online, that Keanu Reeves in Leather Movie Online, all of these move a lot of money around and players become unhappy if exploits are found. I'm happy to say that I've been out of the Massively Multi-Player scene for over a year, so I don't have to work this out before going into work tomorrow.