Thursday, October 19, 2006

Impressed, Confused, Addicted

One of my tiny little weaknesses is a fondness for electronic games. Some nights I spend the last thirty minutes before going to bed playing various free games at (I'm fond of Rocket Mania and Word Mojo, in particular.)

I also have a stack of handheld games that I've impulsively picked up on Wal-Mart stops. Until yesterday my favorite of that genre was Yahtzee. But there's a new favorite in the house.

20Q. A little plastic ball with a scrolling text line that asks you a series of questions about some object, any object of your choice, and attempts to guess what you are thinking within 20 questions. You press the "yes", "no", "unknown", or "sometimes" buttons in answer to its inquiries. The thing is spooky in its ability to zero in on the answer.

Being a stubborn cuss, I have been coming up with the most bizarre things I can think of to test its powers. I decided to think of an oak tree. I figured it would guess tree easily enough and I would have to accept that it had won. I never figured out what it had asked me that allowed it to correctly guess oak tree. But it did. I was astounded.

Ok, next test was a zebra. It hit it easily within 20 questions, though I never figured out why it said zebra and not just a plain horse.

Aha, I thought. Got you now... I pictured a tombstone, a common object to this cemetery hopping genealogist, but not such a common thing for other people to be thinking about. I'll be damned if it didn't guess that as well. It took it 25 questions, but it got it.

The little gizmo gives itself an extra 5 questions if it doesn't get it right the first time, but if you stump it in 25, it concedes defeat. So far I'm managing to stump it about 1 time in 10. Believe me, I am throwing it some pretty weird challenges. "Tombstone" and "frying pan" it guesses. I stumped it with "walnut". Bizarre and unpredictable.

And completely addictive. Who needs TV?


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