Thứ Tư, Tháng Sáu 12, 2024
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How did the Duck Hunt gun work?

[Reading level: C1 – Advanced]

For many children of the ’80s, a good portion of your childhood probably revolved around sitting too close to the TV, clutching a plastic handgun and blasting waterfowl out of a pixelated sky in Duck Hunt (also, trying to blow that dog’s head off when he laughed at you). The Duck Hunt gun, officially called the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Zapper, seems downright primitive next to today’s systems, but in the late 80s, it filled plenty of young heads with wonder. How did that thing work?

 

The Zapper’s ancestry goes back to the mid-1930s, when the first so-called “light guns” appeared after the development of light-sensing vacuum tubes. In the first light gun game, Ray-O-Lite (developed in 1936 by Seeburg, a company that made parts and systems for jukeboxes), players shot at small moving targets mounted with light sensors using a gun that emitted a beam of light. When the beam struck a sensor, the targets – ducks, coincidentallyregistered the “hit” and a point was scored.

 

 

Light guns hit home video game consoles with Shooting Gallery on the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972. Because the included shotgun-style light gun was only usable on a Magnavox television, the game flopped. The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Zapper then fell into the hands of American kids in October 1985, when it was released in bundle with the NES, a controller and a few games. Early versions of the peripheral were dark gray, but the color of the sci-fi ray gun-inspired Zapper was changed a few years later when a federal regulation required that toy and imitation firearms be “blaze orange” (color #12199, to be exact) so they wouldn’t be mistaken for the real deal.

 

While there were a number of Zapper-compatible games released for the NES (when I was a kid and my dad worked from home, we wasted plenty of afternoons away playing Hogan’s Alley), most lived in the shadow of the iconic Duck Hunt, the most recognizable and popular Zapper game.

 

Gone in a flash

While older light guns like the Ray-O-Lite rifle emitted beams of light, the Zapper and many other recent light guns work by receiving light through a photodiode on or in the barrel and using that light to figure out where on the TV screen you’re aiming.

 

When you point at a duck and pull the trigger, the computer in the NES blacks out the screen and the Zapper diode begins reception. Then, the computer flashes a solid white block around the targets you’re supposed to be shooting at. The photodiode in the Zapper detects the change in light intensity and tells the computer that it’s pointed at a lit target block — in others words, you should get a point because you hit a target. In the event of multiple targets, a white block is drawn around each potential target one at a time. The diode’s reception of light combined with the sequence of the drawing of the targets lets the computer know that you hit a target and which one it was. Of course, when you’re playing the game, you don’t notice the blackout and the targets flashing because it all happens in a fraction of a second.

 

 

This target flashing method helped Nintendo overcome a weakness of older light gun games: cheaters racking up high scores by pointing the gun at a steady light source, like a lamp, and hitting the first target right out of the gate.

 

Source: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/26875/how-did-duck-hunt-gun-work

WORD BANK:

portion /ˈpɔːr.ʃən/ [C1] (n): phần

revolve around sth /rɪˈvɑːlv/ (v): xoay quanh điều gì

clutch /klʌtʃ/ [C2] (v): nắm chặt

blast /blæst/ (v): làm cái gì nổ tung

waterfowl /ˈwɑː.t̬ɚ.faʊl/ (n): con chim nước, thủy cầm

pixelated /ˈpɪk.səl.eɪ.t̬ɪd/ (adj): (hình ảnh) được tạo thành từ các điểm ảnh (pixel)

officially /əˈfɪʃ.əl.i/ [C1] (adv): chính thức

downright /ˈdaʊn.raɪt/ (adv – informal): hết sức, cực kỳ

primitive /ˈprɪm.ə.t̬ɪv/ [C1] (adj): thô sơ

fill sb’s head with wonder (v): khiến ai đó phải thắc mắc

ancestry /ˈæn.ses.tɚ/ [B2] (n): tổ tiên

so-called /ˌsoʊˈkɑːld/ (adj): cái được gọi là

light-sensing (adj): cảm biến ánh sáng

vacuum /ˈvæk.juːm/ (n): chân không

jukebox /ˈdʒuːk.bɑːks/ (n): máy hát tự động

mount /maʊnt/ [C2] (v): gắn

emit /iˈmɪt/ [C2] (v): phát ra

a beam of light /biːm/ [B2] (n): chùm ánh sáng

coincidentally /koʊˌɪn·sɪˈden·təl·i/ (adv): một cách trùng hợp

register /ˈredʒ.ə.stɚ/ (v): ghi nhận

flop /flɑːp/ (v): thất bại

be bundled with /ˈbʌn.dəld/ (adj): bán kèm theo cái gì

peripheral /pəˈrɪf.ɚ.əl/ (n): thiết bị ngoại vi

sci-fi (n): khoa học viễn tưởng

federal /ˈfed.ɚ.əl/ [C1] (adj): liên bang

imitation /ˌɪm.əˈteɪ.ʃən/ (n): đồ giả

firearm /ˈfaɪr.ɑːrm/ (n): súng

blaze /bleɪz/ (n): ngọn lửa, màu ngọn lửa

compatible /kəmˈpæt̬.ə.bəl/ [C1] (adj): tương thích

in the shadow of sth (adv): dưới cái bóng của cái gì

iconic /aɪˈkɑː.nɪk/ (adj): mang tính biểu tượng

recognizable /ˈrek.əɡ.naɪ.zə.bəl/ (adj): dễ nhận biết

rifle /ˈraɪ.fəl/ (n): súng trường

photodiode (n): điốt quang

barrel /ˈber.əl/ (n): nòng súng

pull the trigger /ˈtrɪɡ.ɚ/ (v): bóp cò

flash /flæʃ/ (v): nhấp nháy

solid /ˈsɑː.lɪd/ [B2] (adj): đặc

detect /dɪˈtekt/ [C1] (v): phát hiện

intensity /ɪnˈten.sə.t̬i/ [C2] (n): cường độ

sequence /ˈsiː.kwəns/ [C2] (n): trình tự

fraction /ˈfræk.ʃən/ [C2] (n): phần nhỏ

rack up (v): thu về (nhiều tiền/điểm/lợi nhuận)


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