Keeping the games clean

Shaggy January 26, 2008 1

It’s a slow news day and while we wait for Matt to post more pics and impressions of the ATEI show and all of the great stuff there, I figured it would be a good time to write an editorial of sorts (aka officially rant) for those that operate games or who would like to run their own arcade one day. I already spoke about keeping the games fixed a little while back which takes me to the next logical step – keeping the games clean.

A couple of weeks ago I visited a place called Nickelcade. They have a lot of games available for a low price to enter and play and they certainly improved upon maintenance of the games but they still lack the all-important knack of keeping things clean. I don’t mean to single them out as there are plenty of arcades where the games are just plain dirty but it got me thinking about the subject as I was telling the others that went with me that it felt like I needed to take a bath after going in to that arcade because the games seemed to have a layer of grime on them that transported onto your hands after sitting down to play just one title. The floor had a brown tint to it like it hadn’t been cleaned ever. That doesn’t beg you to come back for more, especially if you have a two year old son there (who likes to suddenly lay on the ground for reasons only known to him).

Hit the post break to read on >

When I worked for a rival arcade in the city to the Nickelcade a few years ago we did a fairly good job at keeping the games clean. We did so well in fact that some consumer association labeled that arcade the cleanest arcade in the state for a couple of years, which was something we could be proud of. It really isn’t difficult to keep the games clean as long as the arcade has employees (even with a redemption desk) as they are not busy all of the time, especially from Monday-Thursday. Even if one employee with a rag and some cleaner in a bottle would go out on the floor at least once a day it makes a difference, as long as they are careful not to drench the game to the point where things begin to spark. Every arcade I have ever visited is quick to respond to major messes like puke on the ground or a garbage can that spills over but unfortunately some players that come in and get their game on don’t bother much with hygiene (if you need a prime example, check out this thread on the KLOV forums where one guy witnessed another person wander around an arcade with crap -filled pants, making it a point to sit in each sit-down game) and thus turn an arcade into a germophobe’s nightmare. I don’t mean to sound like the morons in the media that come out with some study every other week saying that everything-will-kill-you-and-this-time-it’s-dirty-arcades but I feel that clean games equals a more pleasant and fun experience for those going into the arcade. I even think that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for arcades to offer something similar to what I have seen at grocery stores in front of the shopping cart lines, some baby wipes to wipe things down with for those that may like to have something on hand in case they come across a game that exudes a feeling of being dirty (without being a game like Gals Panic) or those who are a little paranoid about germs but don’t want to bother telling the staff that their games need some cleaning.

Beyond the games comes the location itself. Most arcades have a dark carpet which easily hides any nasty stains that would show up otherwise but even if your arcade has a lighter carpet scheme, cleaning the carpets every now and then is an expense that goes a long way in establishing a clean environment. One could go with hiring a professional carpet cleaning crew or go out and buy one of those personal carpet cleaners (in case you don’t have a lot of cash to spend) – either way it will help prevent that layer of dust and grime from accumulating that may end up turning some customers away if it gets out of hand.

These are just my opinions and suggestions of course and I’m not saying that everyone needs to be a clean freak that works in and arcade but if most people had to choose between visiting an arcade that rarely cleans their games and one that does constantly, it doesn’t take much thinking to figure out where customer’s preference would lie.

One Comment »

  1. SaraAB87 January 27, 2008 at 1:05 am - Reply

    Dirt also clogs up the controls and makes games not work properly, and the games will require more maintenance and more part replacements if the arcade does not keep them clean. This will eventually result in higher maintenance costs. Especially dirt in the sense that you mention it. Seems like a bucket and a rag could save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

    Chuck E Cheese manages to keep the games very clean and the place is a germ-factory full of nothing but running and screaming kids, although thats what its supposed to be. Kahunaville was another arcade/restaurant chain where I actually saw employees with a bucket and rag wiping down machines, sadly they went out of business. I have really never experienced dirt at an arcade like you describe.

    I definitely do not think you are out of line with your comments and you certainly are not super paranoid or anything, what you describe is akin to eating at a filthy restaurant. Would you eat at a restaurant where the floor was filthy with grime and the tables were covered in grime? I would hope not.. Who in this world wants to take their 2 year old to a place like this, if I had kids I certainly wouldn’t. Its just common sense not super paranoia, no one wants to bring their kids into a filthy environment. I wonder if you could get the health or sanitation department after this place to clean up, especially if they also serve food or drink at this arcade.

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