Last week was my son’s seventh birthday and so my wife and I decided to throw him his first “friend” birthday party. We had it all planned out: two hours of bowling, cake, balloon animals and presents followed by an hour of arcade games. And when I say “arcade,” let’s be clear that I’m not talking about sweet arcade games with the joystick and buttons, but the stupid ass kid games with the tokens and the dumb little tickets.
I’ve never been a fan of these types of arcades but my son loves them. And what’s not to love about a couple dozen games that cost 75 cents each play, lasts 20 seconds, and spits out 12 tickets.
Ah yes, the tickets: the single dumbest thing that exists in the world today. We put a man on the moon more than 40 years ago, but we can’t figure out a system today where kids can avoid walking around looking like this.
We played for about 45 minutes with the kids hitting jackpots like they were at a weekend Vegas bachelor party. They’re running around the arcade with armfuls of tickets – at one point I think one of his friends even slipped five of them to the cute girl near the Skee Ball machine and told her to “go buy herself something nice.”
But that’s the problem with these damn places. You can’t buy something nice. For example, because it was my son’s birthday party he was given 200 free tickets. Then he had a $10 card to use on the machines. Then he bummed a second $5 card off of me. In all he used these resources to collect 490 tickets. You know what almost 500 tickets got him? This stupid thing.
I found this picture on Amazon.com. You know how much it costs there? $4.28. That’s right. My son spent about $20 to get a prize I could have bought for a quarter of that.
If you were looking at these games from a strict return-0n-investment perspective, you’d be better off walking into a dollar store, throwing a couple of croquet balls around the aisles and then having your kid pick out a toy. Bam. Happy Birthday.
But no, you have to play the games and get the tickets and then ultimately go to the counter of doom where the poor person who works there has to stand patiently as seven year olds with runny noses stare at a wall of cheap shit and try to figure out what they want to buy. My kid can’t figure out where in his bed the remote control is, but we’re asking him to look at this and pick out what he gets?
Now imagine going through this with five different kids. They were lined up at the counter flashing their tickets like a bunch of excited bettors at an illegal underground fight club.
Meanwhile, the poor 18-year-old high schooler behind the counter looked like she wanted to cry when my kid couldn’t decide between the stupid yellow ball, the knock off NERF gun, or 47 plastic army men. Those were the only things in his price range since the actual cool prizes – the TV, the video games, etc. – were like 12,000 tickets.
Sweet. A 42 inch So-knee flat screen that will cost you $2,500 in game play to win. What a steal.
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