Arcade Agony

A couple years ago, Sloan played hard at Chuck E. Cheese all summer long. We bought her a summer pass that allowed her to play unlimited games for 30 minutes each week. For as much as we all love to hate on Chuck E. Cheese, I sure yearn for the “all-you-can-play in a set amount of time” arcade model.

Chuck E. Cheese provided a good value with its “unlimited play” option.

I think one of the most anxiety-inducing experiences for a parent is taking a young child(ren) to an arcade. During last week’s vacation we paid visits to two different arcades and both experiences made me scream internally.

Never mind that just from my own personal perspective I really dislike the direction arcades are going. The “point” price system for games really rubs me the wrong way. Oh, this game takes 16 points to play? Great, now can you translate how much that actually is going to cost me in actual U.S. dollars? I just find it so deceptive and disingenuous. When it comes down to it, the arcade games are priced so outrageously that they have to disguise the true cost with “points.”

So if as an adult I am having a tough time figuring out how to decipher the point system, how is a 6-year-old supposed to understand it? That is where the first big headache originates. When Sloan and Beau run wild in an arcade and I have loaded their cards with $10 each, I have to convey to them that they have to budget their funds accordingly. Of course they immediately gravitate to the games that cost 20 points and I have to “advise” them that if they want to stay at the arcade for more than five minutes, they should probably play something else. Then comes the back-and-forth of whether they can play the 20-point game “just once” and what their balance will be after they play it (to which I respond “I don’t know”).

Adding to the agony of this predicament is that many of these expensive games are too advanced for my kids. Beau tried a shooting game last week and in addition to difficulty he had of just holding the gun he didn’t understand the concept of shooting off-screen to reload. Sometimes my kids can’t even get through the long instruction tutorials many of these games have at the beginning.

These VR games are just too advanced and expensive for my kids.

Then there is just the scam-like nature of the “skill games” that young kids can’t fully grasp. All the claw games for cheap crap like jewelry, stuffed animals, and toys are virtually impossible to win for even a well-coordinated adult but yet my daughter has the confidence that she is going to clean out the machine of every glitzy bracelet it has. I then watch as Sloan deploys the claw on the plastic partition, never even touching the prizes. Sure Sloan, try again.

After much negotiation, frustration, and suggesting, the visit ends with a trip to the ticket counter for a dream-crushing ordeal. Low ticket counts of my kids combined with the deeply inflated ticket costs of the prizes isn’t an ideal combination. I find myself deflecting their gazes from the cornhole boards and repeating, “No, you can only choose between these three bins” (which usually consist of Tootise Rolls, hair ties, and mini erasers).

Last week at the Seabrook arcade, Sloan took a moment away from the scams and overpriced games to play some pinball.

The days are gone when my kids would be happy “playing” the games when they really wouldn’t be playing them. It is all pay-to-play for the Resers now. Unfortunately, at this point in their lives, that price just isn’t worth it. But don’t tell Sloan and Beau that 😉 Don’t Blink.

One thought on “Arcade Agony

  1. There has been a fundamental shift in the nature of “amusement” for our children today. Inevitable, I suppose, but I share your concerns!

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