Amusement Centers: the good, the bad and the ugly

I took T-Rex yesterday to a birthday party at a Chuck E. Cheese-type arcade/amusement center, sans the demonic-looking mouse. He had a lot of fun, and in general I like the place and how it’s run. It’s clean, the staff is friendly and helpful, and it has a wide variety of play areas and activities indoors and out. In fact, both of my kids have had parties there, and T-R will have his next one there again. But even so, there were 2 things that bothered me:

1. Although it’s a kids’ destination, it holds a handful of adult-themed games that aren’t separated from the more innocent ones. (Granted, the place is not just for young children.) Not racy games, but fairly violent ones. I know, welcome to the real world, Susan, glad you could join us! I was talking to one of the parents and T-Rex ran off with his friend to play a game. Five minutes later I find them both engaged in a game that requires shooting down terrorists who are attempting to take over an airport. Maybe I should have immediately pulled them away, but I tried not to freak and make it seem like a bigger deal. My kid’s definition of “bad guys” are aliens with glowing red eyes in the Power Rangers movie, not real life terrorists, so I know he wasn’t thinking of the game the way I was. However, when an animated helicopter crashed into the “airport” window, I decided that was enough for me – and them. I’m not sure what made me cringe more: the game’s story line or the fact my son is a good shot.

2. The second thing that bothered me was seeing a preteen with a garbage bag – a black, tough-enough to stuff with leaves kind of garbage bag – that was filled – FILLED – with winning tickets from video games. I’m sure these were accumulated over the course of months – God, I hope years – but there he was with his father, sliding rows and rows of tickets into the counting machine. The last time I walked by, he was at nearly 3,000 and had at least a quarter of a bag to go. I don’t want to judge, I really don’t, but I’m going to venture a guess and say that the child spends a bit too much time in the video arcade. He may need more balance in his life. The sad thing for him is, even 5,000 tickets would probably only get him a DVD worth $20 in the prize shop.

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3 thoughts on “Amusement Centers: the good, the bad and the ugly

  1. But aren’t aliens with big red eyes merely an artistic way to represent to kids that we need to be aware of dangers to our preferred way of life? Homer used cyclops and sirens, Tolkien used Orcs, Rowling used dark wizards (the rogues, at any rate) and the Power Rangers use red-eyed aliens…and sometimes purple guys giving away purple “ooze”. Although boys love to react to threats to our livelihood with guns and fists – it really is up to the parental influence to encourage the recognition that although physical reaction is sometimes appropriate, understanding the overall battle between good-and-evil…and how the battle looks from both sides of the equation…is a better start to learning how to deal with it. I still think back to Agent J’s observation about the alien with the tissue in it’s claws, from the first MIB… šŸ™‚

    ..alex.

  2. I’m happy to say that with my boy all grown up, I can now stay far, far away from those dang “amusement” centers. They always seem to remind me of a Las Vegas casino (case in point – your item #2).

  3. You must live near the “Four Seasons” of Chuck E. Cheese. Ours always smells like urine and feet and the pizza tastes like it was made by a terrorist.

    I loathe CEC. In fact, I have decided that I won’t go to one ever again. Life is too short, and the time I spend there, I will never get back.

    My husband made a commitment to my 4-year old to take him to CEC while his brother stays over night at a friends this weekend. He made his bed. I refuse. There aren’t enough Vicodin’s on the planet to squelch the headache that lingers for days after CEC.

    Plus, it’s a constant reminder of how much I don’t like other people’s kids. My own are okay. Other people’s kids, are a-holes.

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