Gamblers R Us
The past few weeks have seen a large number of birthdays in the VegasRex peoplesphere.
My own 42nd birthday was at the end of June, and today, we had yet another one. Well, today wasn't exactly a family birthday so much as it was a friend-of-the-family birthday, but we still had to celebrate it.
Since the birthday girl on this occasion is only 11 years old (and rumored to be dating Roman Polanski), we celebrated at one of the few age-appropriate places on the Las Vegas Strip ... Gameworks.
Now, I already went to Gameworks about three weeks ago with one of my kids, but they liked it so much that I was pestered to return for this event. This means that I have officially gone to Gameworks twice in one month, which represents a personal record for yours truly. One might say that this was the gameworkiest month I have ever spent on planet earth. Yes, "gameworkiest" is a word, look it up in the Oxford Dictionary.
Even though I have lived and visited here for over a decade, entire calendar years have gone by without my stepping foot inside of Gameworks. Hell, I can count on my fingers the number of times I have been inside the place in my entire life, and the reason for this is simple:
GameWorks doesn't do anything for me
It's a four-story candy store and video arcade, but I don't eat candy and I don't play coin-operated video games.
It wasn't always this way.
Back in the 70's while living in D.C., I used to get rides or take an hour-long bus ride to a place called Springfield Mall in the suburbs of Virginia. At the time, it was one of the largest malls in America, and it had a large video arcade called "Time Out".
I thought this was the dopest, the chillest, the stone-cold illest place on earth.
I played games like Pong, Centipede, and Asteroids, and I was absolutely fascinated with the machines. I would watch other people play, make mental notes, and work my ass off to make sure 'REX' was at the top of every high score list. I used to particularly enjoy dominating the entire list so that my initials were the only ones on the screen. Once an attention whore, always an attention whore I suppose.
Springfield Mall was later found to be a major distribution point for cocaine on the East Coast, but I haven't been there for 30 years, so as far as I know it still stands.
Anyway, Gameworks is more or less a modern version of Time Out, with a very Vegas twist in that it offers gambling ... for children.
I am not making this up.
While perusing the game offerings today, I once again could not believe my eyes at the very blatant attempts to get young kids to gamble. For instance, the arcade has "Deal or No Deal", a "21" game, a "Big Bass Wheel" which is similar to the Price is Right, and ... get this ... Wheel of Fortune. Yes, Wheel of F'ing Fortune. You know, every child's favorite game.
Honestly, I don't know how the arcade operators can offer these games with a straight face while casinos city-wide react with horror every time a 15 year-old comes within ten feet of a slot machine.
Granted, the kids play for tickets instead of cash, but since the games cost U.S. currency to play, and the tickets are redeemed for real merchandise, I can't help but wonder what the difference is. Casino chips aren't real money either, and many people gamble for comps.
I find it hard to believe that kiddie Wheel of Fortune is not considered "gambling" simply because it dispenses tickets instead of Federal Reserve notes.
Anyway, while at M&M World, I had a chance to look at their new extension. That's right boys and girls, book your flights and hotel rooms now, because M&M World is adding 3,300 square feet of retail space to its 4th floor, and this new space will be opened in August.
I know, I know, screw the iPhone 4, extra space for M&M merchandise is like a dream come true for consumers.
While there, I also stumbled upon M&M World's dog clothing section and immediately began laughing.
In my opinion, there is nothing more stupid than buying name-brand crap for your dog.
Because it's a goddamn DOG.
I have a dog, and I generally like the idiotic creature, but I'm under no illusion that it wants me for anything other than a meal and a place to sleep. It certainly does not "love" me or even give two squirts about my well-being. Even though my dog is the most well-fed creature on earth, her life is comprised of the following:
1) Wake up
2) Excrete waste
3) Spend the entire day sniffing every crevice of the house for something edible, and barring that, eating lint
That's it. That's all she does.
She'll get an M&M sweater when I grow a third ball.
Anyway, after buying overpriced sugar, we went downstairs, and I watched the sprogs play games for a couple of hours.
Honestly, I don't get their excitement over these places anymore. I stopped going to arcades when I got an Atari 2600. We have a Nintendo Wii at home, and most of the other kids have Xbox 360's and Playstations. The games we have in our own home are way better than the stuff they have in the arcades, but still, like clockwork, kids wet themselves with glee everytime they see video arcades.
When all was said and done, I looked at my watch and realized that we had spent 3 hours in Gameworks. Another personal record. My hope is that this record will stand ... forever.
For all of you 9 year-old readers out there (and I'm sure I have thousands); next time mom and dad book a trip to Vegas, beg them to come along. I'm happy to report that Las Vegas has a casino built just for you.
And people say that Vegas isn't family friendly.
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