Dinosaur Dodger!

How many explorers will help safely home?


Dinosaur Dodger is an email game about probabilities. It takes a minute to start a game, then about two weeks for the game to roll on to the end. From time to time the game sends you emails telling you how well you are doing. Want to play? Read on...

It's your first day at your new job with the Lost Explorers Assistance Society. Your job is to advise lost explorers how to get home. You've just settled in at your new desk. The phone rings. You pick it up. A worried voice speaks.

  • Explorer : Excuse me, is that the Lost Explorers Assistance Helpline?
  • You : Yes. Are you a lost explorer?
  • Explorer : Yes. I'm on the Bongo-Kazongo Track. I've reached a turn-off, and I need to know whether to go straight or turn.
  • You : Just hold on a minute, sir, I'll check.

You call up a map of the Bongo-Kazongo Track. It's very dangerous. The track has two turn-offs, and the explorer absolutely must take the second turn-off. Otherwise, he'll get eaten by voracious dinosaurs!

Map of the Bongo-Kazongo Track
map of the Bongo-Kazongo track, showing two turn-offs. The explorer must take the second turnoff, or he gets eaten by a dinosaur

You decide to ask the explorer some more questions...

  • You : I need to know - are you at the first turn-off, or the second?
  • Explorer : Well, you see... I can't remember.
  • You : It's very important - have you already passed a turn-off, or are you still at the first turn-off?
  • Explorer : Honestly, I can't recall. I've been bitten by a Latrodectus Amnesiaticus.
  • You : A Latro-what??
  • Explorer : Latrodectus Amnesiaticus. The memory-loss spider. I lose all sense of where I am and where I've been. I have an antidote at home, but I can't remember, for the life of me, whether I'm now at the first or the second turn-off.
  • You : Just a minute, sir.

What will you advise the explorer? He doesn't know where he is! You ask your boss for advice.

  • You : (after explaining the situation) ... so, what should I advise him?
  • Boss : Roll a dice.
  • You : What??
  • Boss : This kind of thing happens all the time on the Bongo-Kazongo track. The whole place is infested with Latrodectus Amnesiaticus. So, just choose randomly whether to tell him "go straight" or "turn now".
  • You : Oh. But what probability should I give to each choice?
  • Boss : I'll leave that to you. I'm late for a meeting.
  • You : But the explorer might get eaten by a dinosaur!
  • Boss : It's their fault for going wandering off down the Bongo-Kazongo in the first place. Everyone knows it's riddled with dangerous amimals. Life's tough. Bye.
  • You : But...!
  • Boss : Ok, look, he might get eaten, true. He won't be the first. Just choose the probability you'll tell them to go straight, and stick with it. If you can save more than a quarter of these guys, then frankly, you're doing well. Now, I really have to go.
Your boss hangs up.

So you'll send the poor explorer at random either straight or right. Hmm... All right, but what probability will you give to each choice? What is the probability you will tell him to go straight? His fate depends on your decision...!

To play Dinosaur Dodger, fill out the form below. Every hour, the computer will assist an explorer on your behalf, based on the probability you choose. You'll get emails from time to time, until you've helped 200 explorers. Then, if you've done well, your name will appear in the high scores table!

Name: Enter your name, and see if you get in the high score tables.
School: Enter your school (or similar).
Country: Show how great your country is at helping lost explorers!
Email: Entering your email address is optional. The game will send emails to this address to tell you how well you've been helping explorers. Your email address won't be used for any other purpose, and will be deleted when the game is over (in about 2 week's time)
Probability: %Enter a number from 0 to 100. This is the percentage chance you will tell an explorer to go straight
Or, instead of choosing a number to represent your probability, click on one of the links below :

How likely is it you will tell the explorer to go straight?

Impossible | Almost Impossible | Very Unlikely | Less likely | Even | More likely | Very likely | Almost Certain | Certain

Once you've chosen your probability and filled in your other details, click the 'Submit' button! The computer will take over from there, advising explorers based on your probability.

Not sure what to choose? Use your intuition, or check the high scores table to see what worked well for other people, or read up on these strategic tips.

Games in Progress:

  • "Anonymous" from No Country has advised 200 explorers. So far, 75 made it home and 124 got eaten by dinosaurs, with 1 still on the trail
  • "m" from Germany has advised 200 explorers. So far, 57 made it home and 120 got eaten by dinosaurs, with 23 still on the trail
  • "J" from No Country has advised 1 explorers. So far, 0 made it home and 0 got eaten by dinosaurs, with 1 still on the trail
  • "M" from Cambodia has advised 1 explorers. So far, 0 made it home and 1 got eaten by dinosaurs, with 0 still on the trail