Guide to Arcade Activism -- Get Things Fixed

by Black Lab, 29 April 04

Anyone that plays DDR on a regular basis has more than likely played a few times at their local arcade. That's the way the game was meant to be played -- on a machine. It's great playing on a machine that is in top notch condition, however, the sad truth is that many arcades let their machines fall into disrepair. A seasoned arcade veteran will tell you how much they hate it when a DDR machine is not in working order. Be it dying pad sensors, dead speakers or lights, discolored or misaligned screens, or something more extreme than those, it can greatly take away from your gaming experience.

As a former arcade employee at Castro Valley Golfland (which has three DDR machines), I have seen first hand how an arcade runs. I talk directly with management and learned how they deal with their business. So I have knowledge that I wish to share.

This guide is intended to give the general DDR public ideas on how to get your arcade to fix up and maintain our precious machines. Here are a few tips to help you and your friends to get your machine fixed, and improve your quality of gameplay and enjoyment.

Identify the Problems
Before you can step forward to the arcade about a problem with a machine, you must first identify what the trouble areas are and list them. You can check pad sensors by pressing your thumb on the four edges of each arrow during song selection and checking for the light on the pad to activate. If it does not activate, that sensor is most likely dead or dying. Write down specifically which of the sensor on each arrow are having trouble. For problems such as broken lights and screen troubles, bring a camera and take pictures as you list what the problems are. Sound issues are most likely caused by internal wiring, and should not be tested out by you or your friends. Leave the internal stuff to the arcade employees. Also, do not attempt to dismantle a pad yourself. You are liable for any damages caused. If you find any other sort of problem that could be hazardous, record that also.

Structure Your Argument
It is always a good idea to practice what you will say to a manager before you get the chance to speak with them. A manager will listen to you more often if you present yourself in a calm, collected manner. The last thing a manager wants to deal with is a sniveling teenager that wants his way. Don't be that sniveling teenager. Instead, act concerned, and be understanding with the management. Whatever you do, don't lose your cool and get angry or irate. This will turn off management to your requests. Come up with a plan as to how you will present the problems. If you want to, have pictures (or even video) as proof to back up your argument.

There is, however, one VERY important thing you must have in your argument. You must tell the management that should the machine stay in disrepair or become worse, you will no longer play there, and they will lose business. If there are other arcades with DDR machine in the area, this can be a very powerful argument. Simply put, a broken machine doesn't make money. A working machine does make money. A lot of money at that.

Another important issue that must be brought up if the machine's disrepair deems it necessary is the safety of customers. Problems like loose bars or sharp edges or even pads that are not securely connected can be a huge safety risk. No manager wants a lawsuit looming over their head because they neglected their machines.

Set Up a Meeting
In order to be heard, you should A) call in to the arcade and set up a meeting with the management, or B) go to the arcade in person and ask to see the management, if you know they are on duty then. When you do get a meeting set up with management, remember to stay cool. Go with the argument you should have built and practiced. Remember to stress how the problems with the machine are going to cause a loss in profit from the machine. A good idea would be to provide information regarding the repair of the machine, in the off chance the arcade's tech has no idea how to repair a DDR machine. For more info about repairs, refer to the Arcade DDR FAQ on the forums.

Be Persistent
There may be times when one person is not enough to get the point across. If this is true, then other methods may be necessary. A method that I have seen used in the past is a letter drive. Have all the local DDR players at your arcade write up similar letters to the management, voicing their concerns over the machine. Send them all at once. There's more power in numbers.

Another thing you can do is to organize individuals at your arcade to make vocal complaints to the regular arcade staff on a regular basis. With enough complaints, the concern will move up to the management via the employees. Doing so can have an advantage because the problem was voiced to the management by a co-worker.

If you heed some of this advice, it will help your chances of getting your machine fixed. Everyone will be thankful for it.

(Disclaimer: This information is not guaranteed 100% to yield results. Sometimes there are managers that won't understand, or won't care, unfortunately. =( )