Hangman...as a kid, I used to get really animated playing this macabre word game.
So I got animated again tonight when I bought my midweek Lotto ticket online from the National Lottery website. Instantly, a logo for an 'Instant Win' game titled Hangman caught my eye.
A sucker for a bit of Hangman, I spent £1 of the £10 minimum I'm required to add to my online National Lottery account and played one game. Sure enough, the Hangman's gallows appeared.
I clicked on little blank word tiles hoping to match them to the letters in words like 'Empathic', 'Sailing', 'Ballet' and 'Tap'. I got close but, alas, no cigar.
Alack, there are no 'O's or 'Q's in 'Ballet' and 'Tap'. Sadly, my little animated on-screen stick person got strung up. No big money prize for me.
Undaunted, I punted another quid for a second game. I clicked and revealed letters like 'E', 'S', 'L', 'I', 'A'. Strangely, I'd also revealed these letters in my first game.
Puzzled, I then realised the same words were also on offer; 'Empathic', 'Sailing', 'Ballet' and 'Tap'. A fifth word, I can't recall.
So, even though I clicked on different word tiles from game one, I knew 'O' and 'Q' would turn up. They did.
I lost again and felt a little cheated by a game exactly repeated. I also felt a lot stupid at forking out another £1.
But I was miffed too. After all, the National Lottery is supposed to be a game of random chance, isn't it? Literally, a lottery?
Instant animated reply
At eight o'clock tonight I received an almost instant reply from Siobhan Murtagh at the National Lottery Customer Care Team. I'd emailed Camelot, the company that runs the UK's national lottery, with an inquisitive complaint a couple of hours earlier.
Siobhan Murtagh of the NLCCT, stated: "All Instant Win Games are pre-determined as stated in the Interactive Account Terms and Conditions. I understand that the game animation is there to increase your enjoyment, but this in no way affects the final outcome of the game.
"There are only a limited number of winning and losing scenarios for each Instant Win Game in terms of animation. With multiple people playing the same game at the same time, our systems are unaware of which animation you received on your previous purchase.
"We do not keep a track of all the games you have played to ensure you do not get a repeated animation, as this would not make the selection truly random."
Siobhan also advised, "If you do not wish to load a minimum of £10 into your interactive wallet, you may want to consider setting up a Direct Debit".
Sorry, Camelot and the National Lottery, after my Hangman experience, I no longer want you to interact with my wallet.
I won't be adding any more 'minimum tenners' to my account.*
You can go hang.
As for Hangman, I'll go back to playing for free.
Y'know, the old fashioned way.
Using p..... and p...r.
* The minimum National Lottery online load up rose from £5 to £10 with effect from 17 September.
Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, November 2012.