We've all seen them, games that look easy, with an adorable stuffed animal to be won. Children cry for their parents to triumph, young men try to impress their girlfriends, kids of all ages picture the prize at their home. Attendants call people over, challenging them to "just take a chance." Before playing, don't forget that the games are there to make money for the carnival, fair or theme park. They're usually a lot harder than they look, but winning shouldn't be impossible.
The easiest way to beat a carnival game is to watch other people playing it. Pay attention to what they're doing. Are others winning? If so, how? How hard are they throwing the ball, and where are they aiming? Notice what elements make up the game and think things through. If the object of the game is to throw a ball into a peach basket, for example, look at the shape of the basket. A curved bottom will cause the ball to bounce out, but if you gently hit the upper rim of the same basket, the ball has a better chance of dropping in. Look at the size of the prizes compared with the price of the game. A $5 game with a medium-sized prize is usually easier to win than a game that costs a quarter for a gigantic prize.
Sometimes the easiest way to learn how to win a game is to ask the attendant. Most games have a trick to winning, and sometimes attendants will share their advice. Their job is to take people's money, and if others see you walking around with an animal from their game it's good advertising. Most games are meant to be difficult, so even with the attendant's advice people will most often lose. Besides just asking for tips, ask specific questions; how hard should the ball be thrown to win, where's the best place to hit the mark, how many people have won that day. Ask if you can take a practice shot, or at least examine the ball, dart, BB gun, or whatever the game uses. It sometimes helps to ask about other games as well. Many theme parks, fairs and carnivals have "play till you win" games that are more suited for children.
Carnival games are meant to be difficult, but not impossible. If you're shooting a basketball, remember that the hoop is probably smaller than regulation and the backboard is bouncier than normal, so try for just the net. If you're testing your strength, aim for the center, it's more where you hit it than how hard. Ladder games can sometimes be won by climbing the ropes, not the rungs, and using alternating hands and feet. Aim for the bottom if trying to knock over milk bottles. Throw high and toward the side if it's a dart game; since most people shoot for the middle the better prizes are nearer the outside. Remember when playing that the BB guns probably don't shoot straight, the basketballs might be over inflated, the darts might be slightly heavy on the front end and the milk bottles could be weighted. Try to make adjustments as necessary.