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.