The Biggest Scam: Arcades

My sister and I took the kids to a mammoth sports complex for some rock climbing. (I don’t use the term “mammoth” lightly. Just yesterday, the complex hosted a softball tournament, a home show, baseball tryouts, soccer games and more. Parking was so much fun.)

My daughter had been invited to a birthday party at the complex last year (of course they do parties) and we’d gone rock climbing there before. But all our kids were interested in was the Hall of Overstimulation, or the arcade. 

I don’t have a problem with skee ball, air hockey, the cathartic whack-a-mole, or other games that combine dexterity and endurance. But simply pressing a button and hoping a ball lands in the right spot for eleventy thousand tickets, I’d argue, is a waste of time. 

We had some time to kill and I relented against my better judgement and allowed the kids to have $10 each, and it lasted approximately 15 minutes. Then the kids progressed to the exalted Room o’ Prizes, to carefully select cheap crap, Subject of a Million Fights, that’s either immediately broken or has such strong staying power it never leaves my house despite Herculean attempts on my part to throw it out.

Arcades are popping up in more places, at least in my town. Usually solely the bastion of shore towns, arcades now appear in our local movie theater and mall. Miniature arcade games show up in orthodontist and dentist’s offices. Miniature slinkies have had NO effect on my kids brushing their teeth. I feel I have to gear up for a fight (beyond arguing that a 15-minute errand does not mandate an iPod) everywhere we go. It’s so exhausting.

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The Biggest Scam: Arcades

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