Sunday, May 31, 2009

what rocks? (the claw machine)

the claw machine
(a game of persistence, frustration and taunting by inanimate objects)

why it rocks: the SATs may test “intelligence,” but the claw machine tests character. as such, this online journal vehemently proposes that elite academic institutions abolish usage of standardized testing in lieu of this, the ultimate test. to succeed on the claw machine, the following skills are necessary in abundance: cleverness, patience, perseverance, adaptability, quick decision-making and having money. are those not the exact same skills that universities seek when evaluating applicants?

why else it rocks: winning a stuffed toy in the crane machine is the absolute most perfect gesture to impress a girl. that must be why they are often located in dating hot-spots, like the movie theater, bowling alleys, restaurants and supermarkets. impressive romantic gifts are too often the result of spending a lot of money or having “good taste.” the claw machine levels the playing field and makes impressing ladies about merit. additionally, there is no better way to grow closer to another person than to “win” something together, to have the feeling of being in cahoots together, to feel like it’s just the two of you against a rigged game, against the odds, the world. plus, you get a soft, squishy trophy that becomes a personification of your union. no matter how bad things ever get between the two romancers, there will always be this token of affection, to remind both of “better times.” also: where else can you convert quarters into the possibility of sexual foreplay? 

seriously, what’s the deal with it rocking: it’s only a matter of time before a good idea eventually goes too far. in this instance, our friends in east asia have taken the cake. for example, in china machines have been known to stock domestic and foreign cigarettes. okay, cancer-causing, but not too weird. where things really get fishy, though, is in the supermarkets where some chinese chains fill their machines with crabs and lobsters. in japan, even pet turtles can be won. it can only be a matter of time before adoption agencies use the claw machine to have artificial parents select their babies. utopia, here we come!

AND it’s not just men, women and children of all ages who love the crane machine. but aliens like these guys below also go gaga for this great adventure in metaliic-hand gaming:


since being introduced in the 1980s, frustrated teenagers have spent countless days, nights and parts of their crushed soul to argue whether or not the machines are rigged. perhaps we’ll never have this answer (though I think we can all agree that claw machine’s grip is weaker than an arthritic grandmother after a three-hour typing course), but here is evidence that the newer models are most certainly rigged:
late-model, high-end claw machines are fully computerized and are remotely programmable by the owner (via a hand-held device). Settings and features commonly available include

-claw strength and aperture
-motion speed, in any direction (that is, the claw can be made to drop slowly but come up quickly, or move right faster than it moves forward)
-pick-up strength and retain strength can be specified separately, as well as the delay between pick-up and return.
-payout percentage: Cranes equipped with this setting have onboard programming which cause the claw's grip parameters to be continually adjusted to achieve a pre-set payout percentage, usually specified with respect to the value of the prizes inside
-"fail limit": If the machine dispenses too many prizes in a given time period, it stops accepting coins and is "out of order"


  1. I knew they had to be rigged. I always get one with flappy claws that just drop the toy I wanted. Boo.

  2. I love chinese industry. I use chinese industry often. I wish I would have thought of it first.