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What prize would give game winners a sense of empowerment?

Dear Beautiful Minds,

This idea will soon be a tangible reality, but first it needs refining. Here she blows: prizes (at carnivals and theme parks specifically) are asking to be revolutionized. Stuffed animals sewn and stuffed overseas are expensive, environmentally disastrous and accumulating in some abyss (maybe thrift stores). But thats not my main concern. I love our earth, but I love the people on it more, and I want the best for them. Games are healthy to a certain extent, but the prizes are unhealthy. Especially unhealthy for a young mind calibrating its happiness-o-meter, success-gage, or valuable-things-in-life sensor. Im afraid stuffed animal rewards create an illusion, a distraction, from what game players really want. Even though fluffiness stimulates many smiles at the Boardwalk, people of every age are craving something deeper, something less tangible. I'm talking about involvement and control. "Toddlers squeal with delight when they knock over a stack of blocks, push a ball, or squash a cupcake...why? Because they did it, thats why. Look mom, my hand made that happen". But don't be fooled, its not just toddlers. "Being effective-changing things, influencing things, making things happen-is one of the fundamental needs with which human brains seem to be naturally endowed, and much of our behavior from infancy onward is simply an expression of this penchant for control".Regardless of the prize, knocking over those 3 wimpy mild bottles is satisfying a deep lust for impact, lets keep that theme of impact rolling when we create a new prize.

To get to the point, we [humans] can do ourselves a favor by intentionally inducing situations that allow us to easily make an impact! By impact I refer to an action that benefits someone or something other than oneself. Some ideas I've heard: a creative art piece that grows as costumers contribute, or handprints on the background wall, or plants. Something that leaves the winner saying "Yeah! I did that"...

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  • Feb 1 2012: Give a gamer a sense of fulfillment, meaning, and happiness, and it will take them a long way. Give them a good problem to solve, because when we play games we choose to do it, we're not forced to. Therefore a real tangible prize is not necessary for a good game, just award the players with the seeds of inspiration!

    So as a prize, winner should receive a bigger challenge!
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    Jan 31 2012: Let the gamer decide her prize before she starts to compete.
  • Jan 26 2012: Something that they can continue to create with, like an art kit, puzzle or something they can play like a simple game. This would keep them engaged long after the event of winning and give them a sense of accomplishment. I used to climb a lot in my younger days, there was nothing like getting to the top of the mountain. There was nothing there but I felt like I had accomplished something. When we build things we are proud when they are done and for a child that could just mean a lego set. So I would say give them something they can do to feel proud about or your idea of a plant is great, they could water it and watch it grow. Something to take care of would also be a good idea like a fish in a bowl. Another thing to think about would be a model or an airplane they could put together and fly, maybe a kyte.
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    Jan 23 2012: You address this to authentic minds . . . I try but it's not always easy.

    What would I never want as a prize from the carnival - just those things that are given which is to your point. You have proposed a thoughtful idea. How about a Carnival Facebook page for each state with acknowledgement of the best players?