Since 1946, the indecisive have been relying on Abe Bookman’s Magic 8-Ball to help guide their most critical life decisions, but there’s one question the toy hasn’t been able to answer: how someone will die. So Stuart Gorman created the Tragic 8-Ball which instead reveals a person’s morbid demise.
Despite the claim right there in the name of the product, there is no actual magic powering the Magic 8-Ball. Crack one open and dump out the dark blue alcohol solution and inside you’ll instead find an icosahedron die covered in pre-printed answers that appear randomly when the die floats to the windowed opening of the inverted ball. Like DJ Harrigan’s custom Magic GIF Ball, Gorman created their custom 8-Ball from scratch, starting with a 3D-printed oversized billiard ball that swaps the number eight on top for a more appropriate and foreboding skull and crossbones.
Inside Gorman included an Arduino Nano board attached to a permanently fixed 1.6-inch LCD screen, a lithium-ion battery, and a trio of mercury-filled tilt switches that only send power to the electronics when the Tragic Fate Ball is turned upside down. That approach not only extends the ball’s battery life, it also ensures the screen only lights up and reveals a fate when the ball is turned upside down, like the real thing.
Can the Tragic Fate Ball actually predict how a person will die? Let’s hope not because the randomly appearing CODs currently installed include fates like “Falling Whale,” “Running With Scissors,” “Frozen Carrot Shiv,” and “Swallowed Rubik’s Cube” which all sound like particularly awful ways to go. We appreciate the effort here, but a simple cautionary warning on-screen, something like “Ignorance is bliss, are you sure you want to know?” might be a welcome feature request.