Arcade GamesI have a rule that I don’t start an article with pointless, seminonsensical puns. For example, if I were writing about those games at arcades which give out tickets it might’ve been something like: “Sometimes making children feel like winners is ‘Just the Ticket’ for someone who wants to succeed in the arcade business!” or “Sometimes a visit to the local arcade is like being in a ‘Ticket Tape Parade’, you never quite know what'll come up!”

But I won’t do that. Instead, I think I'll just write whatever random crap comes into my head, and when it seems to have gotten too long, I'll stop abruptly. Yeah. That's what I'll do.

So What's That About Arcade Games Now?

Tick GamesOh, yeah. I guess before I begin I should probably explain what I was gonna write about. It’s pretty simple: There're these machines in arcades which aren’t necessarily games per-se. At their best they’re things like carnival type challenges (throwing balls into or at things) and at their worst they’re overt casinoesque near-scams meant to siphon tokens away from naive children.

These aren’t the games people play for fun; they’re the ones they play for tickets; tickets which can then be redeemed for fun!

But of course this is a lie. These tickets most definitely will NOT be redeemed for fun, because they can only be redeemed for a series of crap prizes which no child would ever even willingly pick out of a dumpster, let alone buy. But, when stupid toys are behind a counter and you have to win them, they become infinitely more desirable to Stupid American Children. It's the way we were raised.

Alright, What Kinds of Prizes Are There?

Prize CounterWell, first of all I'd like to point out that I feel that referring to these things as prizes is being extremely generous. They’ve usually got cheap stuff like a crushed piece of Warhead candy (50 tickets) or a misshapen army parachutist (100 tickets). Then there are also usually some more expensive prizes nobody would ever be able to afford, like a stereo boombox (6,000 tickets) or a 9” black & white TV (20,000 tickets).

So you're pretty much spending hundreds of dollars to get the tickets for junk items which would cost about 60 dollars if you were to purchase them at a discount store. Shazam!

Now Tell About The Games!

Alright, if you say so. But you don't need to shout at me. Here are the greatest Ticket Scams of all time. And by greatest I mean the ones I can remember. You had better pay attention if you know what's good for you. Those who don't learn their history are destined to repeat it.

Bozo the Clown & His Magnificent Buckets

Bozo BucketsBozo’s “game” is simply a long cabinet featuring a bunch of cheap metal buckets arranged in a straight line. When a player inserts a coin into the game, some soiled ping-pong balls drop from a slot and they're meant to toss these into the buckets (the furthest away being worth the most points). While this is going on, Bozo shouts bizarre curses at the player from a tinny speaker.

Obviously, this game is too frightening for the small children it’s meant for, so usually it’s played by older kids looking to score a lot of tickets. The kid usually puts his coin in, makes sure nobody is looking, climbs onto the cabinet, and begins tossing every ball into the furthest (and highest scoring) bucket as fast as he can until the time runs out.

“Great job! Hoo-hoo-ha-ha-hah!” Bozo will cry with chilling earnestness, and then this boy will smile to himself, thinking he has gotten one over on the establishment. But when he kneels down to tear off the FOUR tickets his score of Seven Hundred and Nineteen Trillion has gotten him, he will see that this is certainly not the case.

Some might say the moral of this story is “Don’t Cheat”, but these people would be mistaken. The true moral is: “Arcades are better at cheating than you are, so don’t try it.”


Wheel InSo how does it work? Well there’s this conveyor belt painted with rows of colored tickets alternating with blank spaces, see. And the objective is to roll your coin in through the slot so that it lands in the exact center of one of the trails. Then, you win that amount of tickets! You can't go wrong! Most of the rows are labeled with something like 10-40 tickets, but there’s one very small row which is usually worth anywhere from 100-200 tickets. It's a beautiful thing, really it is.

So it should be pretty apparent how this thing works: It looks like fun; like it's easy to win, but really neither of these things is true. Maybe I can explain it another way. You see the old man up there in the picture? The generic Uncle Pennybags ripoff with all the tickets clutched in his hands? Yeah, well that's the guy who made this game. And do you know what he's doing up there? That's right, he's WHEELING 'M IN. And guess who 'M is. Yeah. That's right. It's you.

The Sucker.

So walk away, Sucker. Just walk away.

Coin Drop

CoinSo you walk up to this machine and look in through the glass on the front. You see large stacks of tokens teetering on the edge of a cliff. A small shelf at the back moves forward and backward, slowly. “Ho ho,” you think to yourself, “I’ve really come across it here…just one coin in the slot and all these little beauties come clattering down into the slot." You begin rubbing your hands together, "I’ll be rich, I tell you, rich!”

You wait for just the right moment, and pop a coin into the slot. It slides down and lands on the shelf, pushing one or two other tokens forward a few centimeters. You growl through clenched teeth, and put another in. Nothing. Soon you are furiously clicking coin after coin into the rails, hoping desperately to cause at least ONE of the tokens inside the machine to fall. And still nothing happens. You bang lightly on the glass, hoping to knock a few coins free. No luck. You wander casually over beside the machine, and bump against it with your hip while clearing your throat loudly. Silence. You begin to walk away, but suddenly an impotent rage boils up from within you, and you turn and deliver a hard kick to front of the machine. Somewhere, an alarm begins to sound. You hurry off into the crowd, weaving through machines and covering your face with your hand as a young man with jingling keys hurries past. But you'll be back.

They always come back...

Ronald Beating