The problem with the arcade

On New Years day, I was with the bloke and his girls at the seaside. We ended up in the arcade, and fed them 2 pence pieces for some of the machines. We had fun, and the girls managed to win some toy dinosaurs to add to their collection.

One thing that disappointed me, however, is just how blatantly *fixed* some of the games are in these places still.

Now, I know that there has always been a level of fixing in arcades. But one thing I do remember is when I was younger – we’d go on holiday to Skegness, and my older sister and I would spend hours on the ‘grabby machines’. These are the machine where you have a claw that you can control with a joy stick, and you attempt to pick up the toys inside. It’s a game of slight skill.

My sister and I were good at it. We used to return to the holiday chalet or caravan absolutely loaded with cuddly toys. It was great!

Sadly, this golden age of grabby machine was short lived. A few years after that, we stopped playing when the claw would grab your prize, rise up, and slightly loosen its grip to drop the toy before it had even given it to you. I suspect that the parameters of the machine only keep the grip closed about once in every thousand goes.

I was explaining this to one of the blokes daughters when she desperately wanted a go of one of the grabby machines that was populated with Minion cuddly toys. To demonstrate the problem to her, we hung around and watched someone else play it, so she could see the ‘fix’ in action. As soon as she saw the guy successfully grab a minion 5 times in a row, only for it to be released as soon as the claw raised, she was no longer interested in playing.

I guess that’s the point of this post. Even small children don’t want to get ripped off. Whilst a level of game fixing is to be expected, some of the machines take it too far. I stopped playing grabby machines years ago for this reason. As did my sister. And even a 9 year old has now been put off playing them.

I’d much prefer to pay more to play the game and actually feel I have a fair chance of winning the prize, than to watch time and again as I ‘win’ without actually getting my prize.

I doubt the arcade industry will change this behaviour. It’s obviously working for them, but if a 9 year old with little concept of the value of money can see the blatant scam, then you’re probably being a bit too obvious about the whole thing.

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