Dave and Buster’s is still relevant

A second generation Totodile Pokémon, Nicholas Cage in National Treasure and an albino squirrel are all magnificent creatures, but there is only one place on earth even more magical than all of these things combined. This whimsical location is none other than … Dave & Buster’s.

Recently I had the opportunity to revisit this fun-sized “casino.” Going in with high hopes, I was pleasantly surprised to find it better than I had left it. As soon as you walk in, the sweet smell of barbecue wings and chalk slaps you across the face. They make it smell like this on purpose — it wakes you up and keeps you on your toes, so you are on your best game. The grind never stops.

The first step is to transfer my real-world money onto a small plastic card that will be decorated with something like a dinosaur or my personal favorite — a Minion. While checking in with the approachable lady at the front desk, something catches my eye. After closer examination, I realize it is a large poster promoting the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. This is just another reminder that even in a place as sheltered as Dave & Buster’s, I can never seem to escape the constant manipulation of Hollywood on the innocent minds of consumers everywhere. Luckily the tranquil sound of coins dropping and tokens being won pulls me out of my trance.

After just a quick glance around this cornucopia, I realize Dave & Buster’s is no longer just a place you vaguely remember having your fifth grade birthday party at. Welcome to the post-puberty Dave & Buster’s. Don’t get me wrong, there are still the classics we all know and love, like “that fish game that gives you a lot of tickets,” “Deal or No Deal with the pretty ladies and the impossible-to-follow cases of imaginary money” and “Nitrus Boost, the motorcycle game that allows you to chose between a few risque characters.” But Dave & Buster’s has been going through some changes for the better. For starters, the sticky, room temperature buffet is now gone. It has been replaced with a cool new invention where waiters take your order and bring you food when the chef is finished cooking it. It’s quite an exhilarating experience, but I do still miss the physical labor that went into plopping a crusty chicken tender on my plate at the buffet.

Dave & Buster’s has also improved its technology. Rather than the previously-used tickets, points are now collected on your handy dandy plastic card. To a fake fan, this may seem like a big improvement, however, that is far from the truth. You see, when we use tickets, it helps us grow as a society. As individuals, we learn to overcome obstacles when we are forced to deal with machines that are jammed, and we develop patience while we wait for a technician to fix said broken machines. Tickets produced more well-rounded people. Not to mention the rush of superiority you get when you walk past a pack of punk fourth graders and their mouths agape at the sight of you carrying your body weight in tickets. Yeah that’s right, it’s called a power move. Look it up.

Dave & Buster’s does well to provide entertainment, but I find the people are the most interesting part of the experience. Who doesn’t love the waiters with low self-esteem, or the moms who in the back of their minds are hoping they can’t find at least one of their kids by the end of the night, or the high schoolers that pretend they are there ironically when we can all see their angst is a facade? While I was there, I was fortunate enough to observe a squad unlike any other I have seen before. Seven 20-something-year-old men dressed head to toe in matching blue track suits and visors, huddled around a Treasure Quest wheel. The one, who was clearly the ring leader, stepped up. He grasped the wheel. They chanted. He spun the wheel. They chanted louder. Slowly the wheel came to a stop. 500 tokens! They went insane — one even threw his visor on the ground in excitement. It’s moments like these that we will look back on in the years to come and think of the “glory days.” These moment are never a given, but at Dave & Buster’s you will always have an experience worth remembering. Just make sure you wash your hands afterwards.