I always wondered how Duck Hunt works! Here's the answer.
Here's what happens. You shoot at a duck, which appears on an ordinary TV screen. The gun is connected to the game console; pressing the trigger blackens the screen, then causes a duck-shaped white target to appear momentarily. If your aim is true, a photo sensor in the gun detects the shift from dark to light, and bingo--dead duck. In short, the TV emits the light pulse and the gun detects it, not the other way around.
For technical details, see www.howstuffworks.com/question273. htm, which includes a link to Nintendo's 1989 patent on the technology. The patent explains how the dark-to-light shift prevents you from cheating by pointing the gun at a steadily shining light source, a weakness of earlier light guns. You'll also learn how multiple targets can appear on the screen at the same time and how more advanced systems can indicate on the screen exactly where your shot "hit."
But that's for the gearheads. At the Straight Dope we're more interested in the deeper meaning of it all. Ingenious as the light gun is, magicians have been boggling minds for years with similar cause/effect reversals. Take the "directed choice." You pluck a card at random from a deck, then return it. You alone know the card's identity--let's say it's the ace of spades. The magician then displays four cards so that only you can see the faces. None is the ace. She places the four cards facedown in a square. By sleight of hand, the details of which need not detain us, she replaces one of them with the ace. "Pick two," she says. You do. The magician then discards the other cards (if you picked the ace), or the cards you picked (if not). She points to the two remaining cards and says, "Pick one." If you pick the ace, she discards the other card. If you don't pick the ace, she discards the card you picked. Indicating the one card remaining, the magician says, "Turn it over. Is that your card?" Of course it is. You're amazed and mystified, but as you can see, the trick turns on a simple unsuspected reversal of cause and effect. (Low light, quick fingers, and a couple beers also help.) You thought you were the active agent; in fact you were the patsy. Understand now? Congratulations. You've just passed Marketing 101.
5 replies to this topic
Posted 06 February 2006 - 05:22 PM
Posted 07 February 2006 - 10:17 PM
Wow....I didn't know that. I always thought it was the other way around or something, which makes no sense looking back .
Posted 08 February 2006 - 04:20 PM
Posted 08 February 2006 - 06:17 PM
Posted 08 February 2006 - 06:41 PM
Wow, that's dedication stryder. Props.
Posted 08 February 2006 - 08:08 PM
wow i was wondering how it was working, so in short pressing the trigger give a black screen for 1FPS and we dont see it the 23 other FPS : that's wise
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