During a recent trip to Six Flags Great America my 7-year-old was inundated by gamers calling out for players to press their luck at various activities. The teen workers enthusiastically described the thrills of the ring toss, basketball throw and balloon pop, and then waved humongous stuffed prizes in the faces of kids who stopped and sized up their chances.
After unsuccessfully trying her hand at an array of games, my daughter begged me for more money to fund her pursuit of a large stuffed Scooby-Doo. When I told her that I didn’t have any more money she frowned and sulked out of the game area, but not before one more worker yelled out his pitch to her.
My daughter didn’t bat an eyelash while the guy screamed out his schpeal. Instead, she turned to me and muttered: “They make the games sound so fun, and then you lose.”
It took a good 15 minutes before my daughter recovered from her losing streak. During that time she bemoaned her bad luck and lack of gaming skills. She questioned why she tanked at so many of the overpriced contests and dramatically professed that she would be destined to a life of hardship and misfortune… all because she didn’t walk away with a five-foot tall stuffed dog.
I resisted telling her how lucky I felt that I didn’t have to drag a plush monstrosity clear across the park to our car, and then into our already crammed home.
However, I did spend some time discussing the finer points of Lady Luck with her.
Two words: Major FAIL.
Explaining to a second grader how amusement parks and carnivals run their games, so they make money, while players end up frustrated and broke was not exactly a wise move.
If I had been really smart I would have convinced my daughter to spend her money purchasing a souvenir in the park’s gift shop rather than trying to score one by playing games.