Last week, I went to a little indoor winter carnival with my daughter. In addition to food and decorations, there were a couple of little kiddie games that she could play.
One of those games was a ring toss that was $1 for 5 throws. A bunch of glass bottles were set up and if you were able to throw a ring over a green bottle (about 25% of the bottles were green), you won a crappy snake prize. There was also a white bottle and if you threw a ring over the white bottle, you won this gigantic monkey that was definitely worse than no prize at all.
Now let me say: this game was HARD. While we were standing in line, of the five kids in front of us, none of them won a prize. Finally a grown man tried to win one for his kid, and got it on the last of five throws. As a result, with less than an hour left of the carnival and most of the kids gone, there were like a hundred stuffed snakes still lying on the table.
Finally, it was my daughter's turn. She of course has no ability to aim, so she missed. (She missed the table entirely most of the time.) After she threw her last ring and it missed, the woman running the game said, "Okay, next." And my daughter just looked shocked. Where was her prize? Every other game she'd ever played in her whole life had provided a consolation prize.
Because her little face was crumpling, I paid another dollar and tried to win one for her. I hit a bottle, but it wasn't green, so still no prize. My daughter was devastated.
Perhaps you could say that this was a lesson in learning that you don't always get a prize, but honestly, I think it's unfair to do that to a small child who came to the carnival to have a good time. She would have been happy with anything, even a crappy plastic ring. And it's especially unfair since the game was so damn hard that all the prizes were still left over at the end of the night.
So my point is:
1) If you make a game for preschoolers, there needs to be a consolation prize.
2) What the hell were they going to do with 100+ stuffed snakes at the end of the night?