Rube Goldberg Machines and Inventions in Games


Rube Goldberg machines have also been featured in games, as mentioned in passing in the Early Career section. This is not such a surprise because games usually make use of the concept of cause and effect. There are games in which the player’s early decisions affect his later ones. Also, Rube Goldberg was an engineer. Even his most ridiculous inventions have some basis in science no matter how flimsy. The only thing that prevents some of these inventions from being executed in real life is the inclusion of some unpredictable or even unreliable parts such as humans, animals and the weather.

I – Mouse Trap and Its Sequels

Mouse Trap is a board game that started getting distributed back in 1963. The game was designed for two or more players. The aim of the game is for the players to help each other build a mouse trap that is designed after a Rube Goldberg machine. Once this mousetrap has been built, the players will no longer cooperate with each other but will instead go against each other.

Mouse Trap was popular enough to spawn the sequels, Crazy Clock in 1964, and Fish Bait in 1965.

II – LittleBigPlanet

PlayStation players will be more familiar with LittleBigPlanet and its sequel, LittleBigPlanet2. The video game is a puzzle platformer. The puzzle component of the video game is inspired by Rube Goldberg machines. LittleBigPlanet2 is now even featured in Sony’s new handheld gaming device, the Vita.

III – IncrediBots

Interaction is one of the most important aspects of a Rube Goldberg machine. IncrediBots is a video game originally from Grubby Games but later bought by Big Fish Games. Objects that have been created in the game can be manipulated using basic click and drag. With simple manipulation and the use of physics simulation, objects can interact.

The videogame has spawned two installments, IncrediBots 2 and IncrediBots 3.

IV – MindWare’s Contraptions

This is not a video game. This is actually a game in a box that youngsters can get their hands on and get creative. The set is made up of fifty planks that children ages 7 and up can put together to create Rube Goldberg-like contraptions. The good thing about this game is that there is no need for the kids to use glue. They just need to put all of the pieces together in any way that they can and could think of. The planks can be use as ball tracks. So, the youngsters can discover how a ball can roll or run a certain flat surface or slide down an inclined plank. The game is also available in a 200 piece set called Structures.


There are other video games that have been designed a la Rube Goldberg machine. Other titles include The Incredible Machine and Crazy Machines. Somehow, machines or physics are part of a Rube Goldberg-type of game. After all, Rube Goldberg designed his contraptions with physics in mind. Interaction is an important part of a Rube Goldberg machine. One part of the setup must be able to trigger the action of the next object in the sequence. In a Rube Goldberg machine, the initial trigger causes a chain of events or an unchangeable future. This makes for exciting gaming. It is also good to see some non-video games. Rube Goldberg machines should, after all, be explored in their physicality. However, if Rube Goldberg were to be given a chance to live in this century, he would have ended up as a video game designer. Continue to next page.