Redemption Games No Longer "Rigged," Says Group

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

Redemption Games No Longer "Rigged," Says Group

Just the other day, I was walking through my local shopping mall and lamenting the state of the universe that would not only take bookstores out of the equation, but also used game stores and even, God help me, the arcade. Where were the days when a geek could find something fun to do at that great panoply of indoor stores? Nowadays, geeks are lucky to enjoy a mobile phone kiosk, or just maybe an oddly-anachronistic music store that sells DVDs.

Then I turned a corner and saw a bizarre sign in an unexpected location advertising the presence of the "Party Time Arcade," if I remember it right. Upon the discovery it was just a bunch of claw games, any enthusiasm I might have had boiled off in a haze likely visible from the Auntie Anne's Pretzel. Yet there's good news for claw game buffs as an arcade group has announced that such games will no longer be "rigged."

This announcement confirms a belief long held by players that, indeed, some of these machines are rigged against the player. That's no longer a risk, says the American Amusement Machine Association (AAMA), who notes that its members will only provide games "...that can be won by the application of skill."

Which, in theory, was how it was always supposed to be. But now, game makers who are part of the AAMA will have to sign a "fair play pledge" which means the games will comply with three basic principles.

From the pledge:

1. An opportunity exists that allows for players to win by the application of skill such that the player will have sufficient time to identify, recognize and react with every game play.

2. A player can improve with practice and experience.

3. The player’s input controls the outcome of the game.

AAMA executive vice president Pete Gustafson immediately provided a loophole by saying "That's not to say it's going to be easy. But with the correct application of skill, they can win every time...there's no situation where the software will manipulate the outcome such that the player can't win." He then followed that up by noting that there's very little the AAMA can do about manipulation after the fact; while the AAMA can make sure that the basketball hoops in a midway basketball game aren't too small to accommodate a ball, there's little that can be done about adjusted grip strength of a crane game or prizes too large to be adequately grabbed.

I call this a loophole because actually proving that this is the case is shockingly difficult. I mean, really; how do you objectively tell that a crane game is winnable? Gustafson, for his part, believes that most situations--99 percent, he says--can be cleared up with a simple phone call. Even Gustafson calls this a "code of conduct" rather than the actions of a "police force."

Claw machines and the like haven't exactly enjoyed a good reputation of late. With the arcade in almost terminal decline, beaten soundly by home gaming machines, the last scraps of the market can't afford to be tainted by terrible gaming options. This move might be what the field needs to maintain some respectability, but given the state of things overall, that ship might well have already sailed.

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