I’m not a huge fan of video games. I’m not totally against video games. I just like to move around and video games involve lots of sitting still so they’re not my jam. I do love a good arcade… like a boardwalk arcade where you can find an air hockey table and a creepy “Zoltan” looking box to tell your fortune? Those things rock. So I was excited when my friends told me we were going to Dave and Buster’s. An arcade! I like arcades! I can stand! I can move. I can yell at my friends while they’re playing ski-ball! Bring it.
But Dave and Busters was… well… extremely discouraging. What I saw was like a casino: A big warehouse in the burbs with no windows and lots of loud noise and lights and somewhat lost-looking overweight families with beers and kids trying SO hard to let their kids have a fun Sunday. I felt like there was a this silent collective plea “Please oh please let this be fun so my family and friends will be happy.” There was a lot of aimless wandering, waiting in line for the next game and blank stares. It was too loud for the families to talk to each other.
It was something of a call to action. Can we do better? Can we build something where those families will be able to have an adventure that connects them to each other and to interesting things in the world? Can we make something that will spark conversations and make kids and parents and friends want to engage?
It’s not as easy as it sounds. First of all… it was raining. So anything outdoors is out. Second, these parents looked exhausted. (I’m not a parent so I don’t speak from any place of knowledge there but it looks very tiring.) So scavenger hunts, puzzle hunts and escape rooms may not be the best bet for that crowd. What’s something we can build that’s engaging but not exhausting?
And therein lies the problem. What can engage tired people? Art is something relaxing to do when you’re overwhelmed. But it has to be something that you *do* not something that you see. And you can’t be able to do it wrong- so people who don’t usually draw or dance or sing won’t be freaked out. This has gotten my brain buzzing and so I wanted to share it. So go to Dave and Busters! It’s horrible! It will spark you into action!! It will make you think: somebody is capitalizing on these tired friends and families who are just trying to relax and have fun. Somebody is making a ridiculous amount of money bringing them to a place that is loud and isolating and full of violent images. And maybe you, like me, will say- how do we fight fire with fire? How do we make something fun and engaging enough that the kids will say “Please can we go to the museum”?