What I Learned at Chuck E. Cheese’s

As a reward to Grace for graciously spending so many hours locked down in her car seat as we travel the country, I try to find a Chuck E. Cheese’s or something similar along the way, or in our destination city. Grace runs from game to game pressing buttons, watching flashing lights and occasionally she will park long enough to play a game.

In a recent trip to the pizza arcade, I learned a couple of things. The first thing I learned is how to guarantee a higher skeeball score, thereby increasing the number of tickets distributed by the machine.

I’m not sure if the manager of the establishment would approve, but I learned that if you walk up the deck and simply place the balls in the highest number hole (as demonstrated by the girl in the photo at the top right), you can really run up the score.

It’s not a very competitive approach, but it does increase your average score.

The second thing I learned is that there is generally a big difference in the way men and women approach playing arcade games with their children. My observation is that women tend to patiently watch their children play the games and rarely interfere, regardless of the outcome. By that I mean, it matters not if the child wins redeemable tickets or not. On the other hand, men tend to “help” their children play the games, eventually taking over for the child. It seems that the dads have good motives: they want the kid to get as many redeemable tickets as possible, and there’s no sense in not winning tickets just because a kid can’t push a button quick enough or throw a ball through a particular hole.

I’ve also noticed that dads scan the games for tickets that have been carelessly left behind by inattentive children. Women, it seems, couldn’t care less if 100 tickets sit abandoned in front of an arcade game – they will not touch them. Let’s just say that men will generally react to said find in a completely different manner.

At first, I thought this was simply a difference between Colleen and me. But, after taking a step back and watching many families at different pizza arcades, I’ve come to believe that my observations reveal a general rule. Obviously, there are exceptions, but they are just that, exceptions.

There is one rule, though, that has NO EXCEPTIONS: No matter how many tickets you win, the amount of tickets it takes to get any prize is not reciprocal to the value of the prize. No exceptions.


  1. Very funny and very right!

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