Now Playing Tracks

Arcades are Zombies

I took Labor Day week off, this week, (as my anniversary fell on the first) and decided I wanted to divest myself of my ticket collection from my local arcade. It’s one of those “fun parks”, which means it’s like somebody leveled up a Putt-Putt Diablo 3 style (or Sim City, if you prefer) and added batting cages and gigantic slide. It used to be the place where back in the day I would go and get my attention whore on with DDR and Pump It Up. Back in the days before Vlogging, Let’s Plays, and the like, that’s how a dorky introvert like me could resolve the conflicted nature of wanting to be seen and wanting to be left alone.

Anyway, I made the twenty minute drive from my house to the arcade not expecting much. After all, with home consoles practically providing arcade-style experiences from the comfort of your couch or desk chair, they had to do something to a) attract customers and b) keep the lights on. But when those sliding doors opened, and I was awash in the din of the Batman driving game to the right of the entrance, and the roller coaster simulation to the left, I was shocked and saddened by the vast amount of redemption games (games that gave tickets) that encompassed the floor.

The humble arcade has aged poorly, and video games are somewhat to blame. However, that’s like blaming the aging out of employees in the work force on computers. Businesses, much like people, have to adapt or either die or resign themselves to niche big-picture irrelevancy. So, you have to consider what puts tokens in slots (or, in this case, money on swipe cards) and I came to the realization that what’s driving arcades today is just Skinner Boxes.

You swipe your card, the balls drop, and you roll them at the rings to get an unknown amount of tickets that you can save to get you a spider ring. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And it’s this odd cycle that’s pumping fresh money into the facility and keeping the place alive. That sort of made me sad. When you step back and see the engine of Capitalism humming along like that, you kind of can’t un-see it. 

We make Tumblr themes