I hate Dave & Busters. I’ve hated them for a long time. It has nothing to do with their staggeringly overpriced french fries, their usurious activation fees for their cards, or that dumb way that they connect all their fans together with gears and belts. No, it runs much deeper.
My first brush with Dave & Busters hatred came at the age of 10. My friend Drew was having his birthday there. It was a small party: only four of us in total, plus his mom. We were all quite excited. At that age, all we had to go on were vague legends, old myths and odd folk stories about an Earthly video game Shangri-La. But our plans hit a snag. Dave & Busters had a policy back then (and may even have it now, I have no reason to suspect that they have learned basic human decency in the meantime) that stipulated no more than three minors per adult could enter. For those keeping score at home, there were four of us. Drew’s mom begged to be let in, but they were unmoved by the fact that it was his birthday. In the end, his mom had no choice but to call his dad, and ask him to join us. His divorced dad. My defining memory of that day is not the 6 straight games of Tekken 2 that I won, but of the two of them, standing at the bar, 12-dollar rum and cokes in hand, trying furiously to ignore each other. Dave & Busters, where families come together. Assholes.
My next run-in with them came a few years later, and was much more personal. I was there with my brothers (only three of us, fortunately), and my mom. I was playing that old Simpsons beat-em-up. You know, the one where Mr. Burns abducts Maggie Simpson. As anyone who’s played old beat-em-ups knows, those damn games are a money sink. Winning has nothing to do with skill and everything to do with the size of your allowance. Well, on that day I was on a mission. I was gonna beat the game. 5 whole dollars later (the game only cost 25 cents!), I had reached the final boss (Mr. Burns in a big robot suit, tee hee). But right in the middle, a Dave & Busters employee came over and demanded to know where my parents were. Well, fuck if I knew, I was there to play video games, not talk to my mom. This made him angry, as it was company policy that minors must be with their parent or guardian at all times. He was deaf to my protests that I was on the last boss, and would be done shortly, and made me leave the game and come with him to find my mom. 5 carefully saved dollars down the fucking drain. That was a whole pack of Magic Cards I could have bought. Assholes.
But what really crystallized my hate for me happened much more recently. Last Friday, in fact. I was playing House of the Dead 4. You know, the one with the badass Uzis. I was drunk and cocky, so I paid for both players, and used both guns simultaneously. I was riding high, feeling like a John Woo character. I even had an audience, as this little boy was standing next to me, watching. But then an employee came over, and asked where that kid’s parents were (seriously, what do they have against minors?). As he hauled the kid off, the kid started shouting, “I just want to watch him a little more!” And what did I do? I could have claimed that I was the kid’s guardian. I could have offered to watch the kid until his mom came back. Hell, I even could have raised a stink about their discriminatory, age-ist policies. But I didn’t do anything. There were zombies to kill and, well, I didn’t want to make waves. So thank you, Dave & Busters, for teaching me a lesson about fascism, about how good people can be made accomplices to bad regimes. And that is why I hate them. They finally made a Nazi out of me. Assholes.