Tonight we went to an arcade at a bar. It had fun games: Jurassic Park and Alien shoot-’em-ups, plus classics like air hockey and skee ball. To play, you couldn’t just put quarters in the machines. You had to load money onto a special debit-type card and then swipe it at each game’s terminal. When you won tickets, they didn’t print out on sturdy red or yellow paper — instead the number flashed on the tiny display screen.
We agreed that this digital facsimile wasn’t as satisfying as the old-fangled real thing. I felt nostalgic for carrying around armfuls or even plastic bags of physical tickets, then turning them in for Tootsie Rolls and cheap doodads. My boyfriend said, “It’s just a way to teach kids to be happy accepting fake rewards for genuine labor.”
That hit me quite close to home.