Yesterday evening I was at Suntec City, walking around and doing some window shopping when I stumbled upon a video arcade game shop called Cow Play Cow Moo. It is a weird name to name one’s arcade game shop. On the other hand, it is also a pretty crafty name to name one’s arcade game shop, a clever word play based off a Hokkien vulgar phrase which I shall not type here.
Anyways, video arcade game shops are a pretty rare sight in Singapore nowadays. But what struck me profoundly was how different it was compared to other arcade game shops past and present. It was very crowded when I was there and I noticed many people carrying small baskets filled with coins to play the arcade. I also noticed that the people there who were playing were accumulating a massive amount of tickets as a result of playing the arcade. And I really mean massive, like a basket filled with reams of tickets. These people were playing to win many many tickets in the hopes of being able to redeem something from collecting all those tickets.
It felt almost like these people were gambling. The fact that you can get so many tickets simply from playing the arcade games really feeds into their addiction into playing more so that they can win more. The feeling of instant gratification is almost palpable when I was at Cow Play Cow Moo.
There were many things that you can redeem the tickets you win. It could be as low as 2000 tickets for small trinkets, to 200 000 tickets for a cheap smartphone. 200 000 tickets. That is insane. I cannot imagine what 200 000 tickets would look like in one’s basket, meant for collecting those tickets you’ve won.
When I was there, I saw a maid helping the kids carry the basket full of tickets, following them around as they tried their hands on the various arcade game machines in the shop. I wonder what the parents were thinking, allowing their children to spend the money on such frivolous stuff just to get ‘high’ on winning. Don’t they realise that this is just one form of gambling? It is no different from playing the notorious Japanese gambling machines, Pachinko, seeing various metal balls dropping from various obstacles, pushing them this way and that, in the hopes of hitting the jackpot so that you can earn back some of the winnings.
On the other hand, I can kinda understand why some people would pursue such a mind numbing hobby. Simply to pass time is one reason. Another could be that for a small group of people, spending money to play these games over and over again, and winning something is a stress buster. With no expectations, other than seeing bright lights flashing right in front of you, as you see the fate of the ball, puck, or obstacles in your way, to accrue whatever meager winnings you might get, or the remote possibility of hitting the jackpot, accelerating your winning so that you might have a small chance of feeling better and accomplish than before you started playing them.