January 21, 2008

Stumble glasses

I think everybody my age has tried at some point in their youth those distorted lenses that you put over your eyes to simulate drunkenness. I have vague memories of trying them at a museum, or in a high school health class, and stumbling as you try to walk across the room looking through them. They're always really foggy and scratched from overuse, embedded into oversized wooden frames with handles on either side. At the time I thought they were just designed to show you what it was like to be drunk.

I was reminded of these the other day when I stumbled over the warped surface of the floor at an underground bowling alley in Minneapolis. And I thought, those glasses really do a poor job of simulating drunkenness. I expected, after using those glasses, that as soon as I had a beer things in my visual field would get blurry and hard to distinguish, and curve into each other, and overall distort in wild, unpredictable, frustrating ways. In fact, that is not what happens. These glasses poorly simulate the effect of alcohol on your vision.

However, what those glasses do well is simulate how difficult it is to walk when intoxicated. So, seen functionally, the crazy lenses and a crapload of alcohol are basically black boxes inserted somewhere into the process of walking, and the output of the system, stumbling across a room, is similar for these two black boxes. And in fact, the glasses really clobber the entire system by appearing essentially at the whole start of the process, the input to the system, and destroying it beyond repair.

While this is a good design for a system that is meant to discourage children from drinking, it unrealistically represents the entire picture of drunkenness. The lesson could be made more realistic in the following ways:

  • Once you put the glasses on, girls come up and talk to you more. Also, they are better looking.
  • With the glasses on, people laugh louder at your jokes, and you at theirs.
  • Everyone else in the whole room is wearing the glasses.
  • When they finally make you walk with the glasses, you walk arm in arm with your best friends for support, loudly singing your school fight song together (or any song from the show Bonanza).
  • When you finally take off the glasses, your wallet is empty, you have a massive headache, and there is puke on your comforter.
Posted by mill1991 at January 21, 2008 2:07 PM