Whac-A-Mole Machines Sabotaged?

arcadehero February 26, 2011 6

(Thanks to Joe J. for the tip!)

When you spend several thousand dollars on a product, you expect it to be in working condition for quite a while, barring any acts outside of your control. As a customer, you expect a machine to work when you insert coins to play. So imagine having a machine that was purposely sabotaged to break down, so one guy could profit off the breakdowns as he is the only one who could fix it. That is allegedly what has happened with Whac-A-Mole machines by Bob’s Space Racers. An employee of the company, Marvin Wimberly, allegedly developed a “virus” (that’s the word used in the report – it was actually an intentional flaw in the computer code which is different)  that caused the machines to break down after being turned on and off a certain number of times, a limit that he would set at his leisure. He would get paid to “fix” the problem, where he would simply reprogram the game again to break down in the future again. Talk about a nasty “easter egg” to implant into a game.

If convicted, Wimberly could face up to 15 years in prison. Hit the link below for a full story w/ video.

[Orlando Man Sabotaged “Whac-A-Mole” Games – WFTV.com]


  1. Michael Kohne February 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Sigh. One little thing: please don’t use the work ‘virus’ – the media having no clue about computers uses that work for pretty much any bit of malware these days. From the published reports this incident is much more ‘sabotage’ – a virus propagates between target systems, while this issue was put in place when the systems were built.

    I’ve seen programmers who try to make themselves indispensable, but I’ve never seen one go this far before.

    • arcadehero February 26, 2011 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      Well that’s why I also added flaw in the code but I’ve reworked the wording

  2. Goatboy9099 February 27, 2011 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Aaargh! I appreciate the posting of the story,,I just hate reading stories like this. It seems like everywhere I turn these days there is a “Snake -in-the-Grass” to be found. oh I suppose since I knew this it shouldn’t be a surprise to see it in the game industry as well , but this is a little too close to home to shrug off easily. Still it sure beats the fireman who sets fires.. at least this way nobody gets hurt… not even the Moles! lol

  3. Jordan/Jbean February 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    How is this different from HP and what they do to their printers? Haha

  4. ClaremontAutomatics March 7, 2011 at 3:38 am - Reply

    Wow that is certainly one way to ensure repeat business!

  5. Crabby March 8, 2011 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Actually it is a pretty crappy way of ensuring repeat business. Any developer with half a brain will realize that it is fairly easy to get caught doing this provided that the company employs other reasonably competent developers.

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