Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Of Rats and Cyborgs

Their dead, soulless eyes will fuel
your nightmares for decades to come!
Chuck E. Cheese's is adding Oculus Rifts to their repertoire of rat-themed fun and entertainment. Goddamn Oculus Rifts. What the shit am I blathering about? For those unfamiliar, Chuck E. Cheese's is sort of like if the island from Lord of the Flies had ski ball. Parents bring their kids there for birthday parties, to celebrate softball victories, really anytime they have to entertain a group of children and don't want to clean up after them. It's got video games, pizza, and an animatronic animal band that spasmodically flaps their mechanized mouth-analogues to a jerky, royalty-free version of the happy birthday song. 

Oh, and did I mention that in a stroke of Omega-level genius, this wholesome, family friendly entertainment fun-center serves beer? Yes, beer. Wine too.

"To responsible parenting!"

Above: a window into our priorities
as a species. Brought to you by Google!
I suppose it makes sense. Like, if you're going to be in charge of a birthday party's worth of other people's kids, then you're going to want to have a drink or five. Behold this Google search on the left. I wanted to see if they still had the dimly-lit, smoke-filled bar of my childhood, and I couldn't even finish typing the question without hearing the echoing, anguish-filled queries of a million chaperones who'd drawn the short straw. 

And now Oculus Rift. What's an Oculus Rift, you ask? Where have you been? An Oculus Rift is the fulfillment of that most splendid vision of the future as imagined in the mid-1990's: a heavy pair of virtual reality goggles strapped to your face and tethered to a computer. 
Wow, the future of yesterday is here tomorrow!
A good six-inches of the depth of any ball
-crawl is actually puke. Sorry, but it's true.
Anyway, Chuck E. Cheese's plan is to introduce Oculus Rift games starting with Virtual Ticket Blaster. A non-virtual version of the game already exists in which children stand in a tube and flail their arms trying to catch tickets being blown around by a big fan. Now they'll be doing the same thing, but without having to move around as much. Look, I've never run a national chain of pizza restaurants/screaming children anarchy fun-zones, but is this really the best idea for them?  

I think the company may be overestimating
the drawing power of a creepy guy in a rat suit.
I'm not just talking about the questionable wisdom of inserting a nausea-inducing virtual reality headset into an environment already saturated with greasy food and flavored sugar water. It's just that sooner or later Oculus Rifts, or something like them, are going to be so affordable that everyone will have one. Like, why endure the trauma of going to Chuck E. Cheese's when you can simply plug your kids into a glorified video game and then get plastered with the other parents in the comfort of your own home?

For the price of a few headsets, diapers and feeding tubes,
you'll never have to interact with your children again!

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