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April 2017 Retro Gaming Article


April 3, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

My local arcade chain switched from tokens to swipe cards and removed physical redemption tickets

Space Ballz redemption arcade game
I'm not really a fan of redemption games, but weren't the physical tickets part of the appeal?
I'm lucky to live in an area that still caters to the golden age of arcades. I can locally find Joust, Pac-Man, Frogger, Donkey Kong, and a few other games. I marvel at this every time I find one of these gems up and running. Or course, much of every arcade's available floor space goes to various redemption machines.

From coin pushers and claws to random luck spinners, these redemption machines dispence everything from plush-toys and random junk to more tickets. Every time I visit an arcade there are often kids racing around with huge armloads of tickets and big smiles across their faces. My son has a favored redemption machine, Space Ballz, that he likes to play.

Arcade game redemption ticket reel Personally, if I'm getting redemption tickets, I'm playing Skee Ball. I despise redemption, but have a weakness for Skee Ball. I probably have underlying jealousy issues due to my inability to win more than 10 tickets at a time from any of these devices. Meanwhile, toddlers are cheering as tickets roll out in thirty-foot aliquots. Damn kids!

One of the larger bowling/arcade chains around here converted from tokens to swipe cards a few years ago. A single card is valid at any of their locations, which is convenient, but I'm still fond of tokens jingling in my pocket.

On a recent trip to their mall arcade, we gave Space Ballz a whirl and won ten tickets - my disappointing magic number. However, no tickets came out! I paused and then saw a sign by the dual dispensers, stating that ticket values automatically go onto your account - no more tickets. Hmmm...

So, I swipe my card to activate the game and debit my card. The outcome of the game (any tickets won) goes back to my card through some sort of network magic. Don't kids like having armfuls of tickets? I understand that removing the tickets cuts costs in a variety of ways, but when redemption machines redeem via a wireless network... well, that's kinda dull. Maybe I like some of those dumb redemption machines more than I'm admitting. It's fun to see a ton of tickets come flying out!

I guess the lame economy is effecting more and more elements of daily life - even arcade tickets. I guess I can get over this change as long as I can still use my points to get an illuminated alien head.

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