In the middle of the coldest February on record, I decided to load up the van and take my wife and kids on a short road-trip to the grand re-opening of Richie Knucklez arcade in Flemington, New Jersey.
Because this was a last minute decision, we only planned on being away one night. That meant we would drive 16 hours total to get about 5 hours of arcade time. My kids were pumped, I was pumped, my wife was wondering what craziness I was going to get us all into.
When you walk into most any video game arcade today, such as those found in Putt-Putt Fun Center and Chuck E. Cheese’s, you’ll see kids, teenagers, twenty-somethings, and parents milling about nicely carpeted, brightly lit areas, compulsively feeding tokens into hulking dance machines, three-dimensional first-person shooters, multi-player racecar simulators, and other such lavishly produced coin-op games.
Also prevalent are ticket redemption games, which typically offer a brief, mildly entertaining challenge (such as the skillful timing of a single button press) and, if the player is successful, a string of tickets to redeem at a prize counter. Ticket redemption games usually lack substance, (though there are some exceptions, such as skee ball), and their prizes are cheaply produced and/or way too expensive (anything of value typically costs hundreds or thousands of tickets). Most old-school arcade purists resent the ubiquitous nature of ticket redemption games, but kids seem to love their slot machine-like qualities.