Arcade Game Makers Required to Play Fair Under Group’s New Standards

With claw games and other ticket-based arcade games facing scrutiny for potentially cheating the customer, the American Amusement Machine Association is creating a new set of industry standards to discourage game rigging.

If you’ve ever been to an arcade, especially one driven by tickets, you probably know the frustration of a playing a game that seems rigged against you. Whether it’s a claw game or one that involves the careful placement of a token, there’s no fun in a game that feels like it’s ripping you off.

Fortunately, the American Amusement Machine Association is on your side. Last week, the AAMA Board of Directors unanimously adopted a “Fair Play Pledge,” which every member company will be required to comply with. AAMA members include companies that manufacture, distribute, and operate arcade games.

“By adopting the Fair Play Pledge, the AAMA Board of Directors sends a message to the playing public that the games our members offer are fair—that through the application of skill, every player has an opportunity to win,” Executive Vice President Pete Gustafson said in a message to members that was released to the news media [PDF]. “No other industry association requires their members certify compliance to such a high standard, making membership in AAMA something you should all be very proud of.”

Under the Fair Play Pledge, AAMA members guarantee that:

  1. An opportunity exists that allows for players to win by the application of skill such that the player will have sufficient time to identify, recognize, and react with every game play.
  2. A player can improve with practice and experience.
  3. The player’s input controls the outcome of the game.

But don’t expect the games to be a walk in the park. “That’s not to say it’s going to be easy,” Gustafson said to Ars Technica. “But with correct application of skill, [a player] can win every time. … There’s no situation where the software will manipulate the outcome such that the player can’t win.”

The move toward stricter rules came about in part because of a 2013 push for stricter regulation of arcade games by the California Bureau of Gambling Control. The agency was specifically considering a ban on claw-style games.

“This was our call to action,” AAMA said in the news release. “The leadership at AAMA realized our industry was vulnerable to overreaching legislation and/or regulation. We needed a defensible position.”

The association compared the move to its Parental Advisory System for videogames, which similarly came to life as a result of political pressure. And like the advisory system, the Fair Play Pledge will come with teeth: A new compliance committee will review complaints, some of which may lead to investigation by software engineers, Ars Technica reported. Gustafson said game makers found to be out of compliance could lose their membership.

“We’re not a police force,” he said. “This is a code of conduct. Member companies will be signing on to this. I don’t see that we need to be more Big Brother than that. We’re the only industry association that requires compliance to such a high degree. … I find this to be a banner day for the industry, and I’m really proud our members are willing to sign up for this.”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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