Dorky’s Arcade: ‘THIS IS NOT CHUCKY CHEESE!!!’

What is the proper role of the arcade in modern society? Should it be a place for boozing adults, or screaming kids? And can it be both?

That is the question raised by the actions of the proprietors of the well-regarded Dorky’s Arcade, in downtown Tacoma, Wash., who have declared on the arcade’s Facebook page that Dorky’s and its banks of 25-cent standup video-games are, effective immediately, off limits to children under 7.

Dorky's Arcade in Tacoma, Wash. (kosmosxipo via Flickr)

“From now on No kids under 7 years PERIOD!!!!,” reads a Facebook post from Dorky’s, responding to a customer who complained that one of its workers was “a rude rude Bleep” to her group of friends and their kids. “You’re the final straw that got the kids removed completely, THANK YOU.”

The post continued, “We are never rude unless customers do not follow our rules. We have them for a reason and expect everyone to follow them. THIS IS NOT CHUCKY CHEESE!!! It is our business and we are the BEST arcade in WA, Your loss.”

Dorky’s as recently as June 2011 promoted itself as a family friendly place for “kids of all ages.”

The arcade received its liquor license in August 2011, state records show.

Reaction from Dorky’s customers is mixed.

“You know what? Good for you for standing up to them! I work for a small, local business where kids and parents frequent though it’s not specifically for kids and we see ROTTEN CHILDREN come in frequently and terrorize the other customers disrespect the space,” writes one person on Facebook.

“The new rule is unfortunate,” writes another. “Yesterday was the first time that I took my 6 year old daughter there. We had a blast.. I was hoping to bring her in on a regular basis.”

Thanks to Glen Casebeer for the tip.

  • Chris

    Ahem, that is Chuck E. Cheese.

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      Oh, trust me, I know. :) Just a quote.

  • Guest

    Thank you to Dorky’s! I’ve seen the damage children can do to valuable equipment. If irresponsible parents want their kids to game, they can buy a Wii and about 20 controllers onto which grape drink would be spilt.

  • BillMoyer

    I really like how the person who’s upset by the new rule has a comment stating
      “Well, Caroline did say she’ll be making exceptions for well-behaved children, you’d just have to talk to her. Chances are if you were already there before with your child then you should be allowed to go back. Caroline is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”
    Isn’t this discrimination?  I understand not wanting unruly children in an arcade, but to pick and choose based on the owner’s decision on who has good kids and who has bad kids is just bad business tactics in my opinion. 

    • Michael

      Upset about it? Then don’t go! Problem solved, you are welcome.

    • Jason

       I think they old base their decisions of who is a bad kid based on the kids’ behavior while at Dorky’s.  I have seen kids literally climbing up the arcade cabinets, hanging onto the joystick like it is a playground toy.   Every time I have seen something happen, the kids always get a warning first, and 99% of the time, the parents weren’t supervising their kids.   It’s a great place for kids, but they are right, it’s not Chuck E Cheese, you’ve got to monitor your children a little closer.   Even at Chuck E Cheese, I bet people get kicked out all the time. If Chuck E Cheese ran a facebook page, you’d see people upset about how they were kicked too…

  • Jason

    Les and Caroline are very reasonable people.  If your children are well behaved and you are with them the whole time, they will be very cool with you.  I have seen what Les has had to deal with first hand and believe me, the people he boots are asking for it.  They try really hard to keep it a place everyone wants to come to.  They cater to all kinds of people from all walks of life – from the young to the very old!   If you have any doubts about whether or not you can bring your kids in, just call ahead of time and speak to one of them of their staff and I’m sure it will be okay for you.

  • RR Anderson

    Was hoping to take Max there sometime

    • Dorkys253

      RR- you, I have no doubt, would watch your child like a good parent would! You & Max are always welcome!

  • Rubernck21

    These games do not look like your average new games, so to keep them running costs ALOT.  I should know, I used to fix them…  This, or any establishment should be free to pick and choose those who are being unruly.  Sure, you have to put up with a little bit, but dont expect them to let everyone just destroy their property without taking measures.

  • Me

    I am the one that made the complaint.  I am standing by my complaint.  Now for them to pick and choose what kids can go in there is discrimination and it is illegal.  I have witnesses to every action we did.  My son that she called a girl never once hung on their machines.  He played air hockey and sit down racing games the whole time we were there. She was having a bad day and took it out on us.  Now it is all my fault there is no kids there.  If my son acts up anywhere I take him out of the situation so that no one gets offended.  I am a parent that makes her kids mind and respect others.  My son did not damage anything or break any machine.  He never once threw a fit or screamed and did not run around like a wild child. He wanted a quarter from me and came to get it. He was with his aunt.  She was freaking out over a number too.  Like everyone thinks of 187 meaning murder every time we see the number.  Then to start yelling at me again about my kid when he was doing nothing but playing a game and his aunt was right there with him.  We did follow all the rules and he didn’t leave an adults side at anytime.  When she left we saw other kids climbing all over the machines, hitting on the machines and all different stuff and none of her staff did anything to stop it.  So to pick me out because I said something and then to have everyone start slandering me when they don’t even know the facts is pathetic!!  I am not even able to respond to anything because I was defriended so I can’t even defend what I wrote.  People can think what they want that is fine to be simple minded.  There is many people who know my son and I and know he would never act the way she said. But yet the people that did defend me got there message deleted.  The power of keeping the ones you want people to see and the ones you don’t when someone tries to make a different opinion.  Like I said we will stay with going to Louie G’s.  By the way he knows my son personally and he knows how good of a boy he is because if he didn’t he would not of given him a drum set for his birthday last year.  Now does my son sound like one of the biggest brats ever??  I didn’t think so.  Thank you :)

    • Dorky’s Arcade

      First of all- I never yelled @ my employee for giving her the 187 cup. I stopped him & explained why it wasn’t a day time number. I love the fact that she was the first to start slamming us on facebook. All we did was defend ourselves. I lost my voice this past week from having to talk to so many people about respecting our rules- funny how no one else slandered us publicly.The fact that I had to try to stop a small from putting their hand in the air hockey goal while playing- I didn’t want to see yet another child get their knuckles cracked by the puck. Now if the parent claiming responsibility to this kid had been @ arms length, they would have seen what was going on. But the “aunt” who I was told was watching the child was off to the side as the kid played air hockey (a good 10 feet away). I know 10 feet might not sound like much, but it is way further away than the rule we have posted.That was the real issue the group had. The fact that they wanted to bend the rules to fit their agenda & when it comes to young children- the rules are in place for the kids safety, not the convenience of the adults. We are tired of seeing little kids hurt in situations they shouldn’t have been left alone in. Yes this is an arcade- but that doesn’t mean that people can treat us like crap. I never yelled at this lady- I had to remind her of the rules many times. Like I said my voice was shot & even if I wanted to, I couldn’t have yelled @ anyone.I wouldn’t have said anything on facebook, if it wasn’t for her first slamming us on our “friends” page & then proceeded to repost the same rant on our “like” page. It flooded our page- so that’s all you could see was what she wrote.To clear things up- it wasn’t the kids fault for all this drama- it was the adults & their complete lack of respect for our business & the rules we have. If the group did, then they wouldn’t have to hear me repeat them. Ask anyone who comes here- I never bring the rules back up if you are following them correctly. This group was so concerned that I was singling them out- that they didn’t notice the other people I had to talk to, or the people that I kicked out. I really don’t care if you think I food is gross, so many people love what we do. To any other people reading this- If you come into my business & have an issue- come talk to me in person & I will find a way to resolve the issue. Everyone who has come to me in person with a problem has had positive results.I guess the other reviews would speak for themselves-  & I hope that people will give us a chance & judge for themselves. As for the lady who wrote this review- you were asked not to come back, so I’m glad you have decided to not come back. It’s just sad that you ruined it for your kids by not following the rules. Bending the rules is not following them.

      • Me

         You did yell and my sister was standing right next to me and saw it happen.  I was ordering food he gave me that cup and you said ” You can’t use that number there are kids here”  “That means murder”  “That is why we didn’t want kids in here in the first place.  My son never go hurt was not without an adult like you claim to say and he was playing air hockey with his sister, aunts and mother.  We didn’t abuse your arcade or break any machines.  Like I said you were the only one that had a problem because when you left there were kids crawling and hanging all over your machines and not one of them said anything to them or their parents.  This picking and choosing who can and can’t go in go for it but it is discrimination.  I like how I was unfriended on your page and am unable to defend myself.  And for you to call my son an uncontrollable brat which all of a sudden was deleted.  I had 24 friends that were friends with your company and I know at least 10 of them put up comments and all of a sudden they were deleted.  Nice to show what you want people to see and not the truth.  I have had many people message me about you guys and I stand by what I said you are a very RUDE person!!

      • Me

           You NEVER once said anything to me, my son or his aunt about him
        playing air hockey.  He was with his 10 year old sister, aunt and me
        playing air hockey he didn’t get hurt and we didn’t complain anything
        about it.  Get back to what the complaint was that you were rude and
        didn’t get the facts.  Didn’t take the time either and obviously you
        still haven’t and you won’t.  Oh well you are the one that has it out
        here all over the place with what you started you are just using me as a
        scapegoat.  Just wait.  There is that thing call Karma and it does bite
        ya  :)

      • Dsunq

        It seems you are doing the right thing, I worked in a retail store deli, and had numerous encounters with rude adults. Sometimes people get upset when they are hungry, or some people have a gift for being rude. The store manager would take advantage of this, they repremand people behind closed doors, she would have another manager there, once she had the manager say that he did not like me, she was rude to many employees, and would target people. It seems most of the stores operate like this. the one I worked at was in Auburn. The initials are FM. anywho, what I am trying to imply, is that I am sympathetic, and empathetic to what transpired, I recieved both ends, unruly bosses and customers.

  • Pinball Wizard

    It’s their right to ban certain ages but they need to uphold that rule for everyone or else it IS discrimination. What I don’t get is how they came up with 7. Are they carding kids now? And what makes 7 such a magic number? So a kid is an unruly 6 yr old but as soon as they turn 7 they mature somehow? WTF? I have seen kids of ALL ages act unruly and disrespectful, from high school on down. Maybe a better policy is that ALL kids playing the video games be directly supervised by an adult, regardless of age. 

  • Beautifulginger23

    I am curious to know how all of these people that were not there when the situation happened are able to say whether the establishment was right or wrong?? It seems to me that maybe Dorky’s Arcade just had all of their personal friends comment in their favor so that they don’t need to deal with a complaint…Any business owner will tell you that there will be good and bad comments you just can’t get away with that, it’s how you deal with it that makes the difference, posting comments on facebook in regards to your customers complaint is quite unprofessional.

  • http://twitter.com/jclaussftw Jason Gerard Clauss

    I must say that looks like a really lame game selection.

    • Dorky’s Arcade

      We have over 100 of the best arcade and pinball machine ever made. That is an old photo of just one row of 9 rows

      • http://twitter.com/jclaussftw Jason Gerard Clauss

        I wondered if that might be the case. That’s why I went to your website to… oh wait. You guys don’t have a site. I don’t go to arcades much, but I always vet them on their websites before going. I do UX. I’ll message your Facebook profile and we can talk. B-)

  • Dorky’s Arcade

    Sorry to burst every ones bubble- but a business has the right to refuse service to people. If we chose to let some families stay in hear & not others, it is our right. We didn’t start this controversy- we merely responded to to it, since we were being slammed all over the internet. I didn’t have any say in who else replied- there were people who were for us & against us- many of those people were not present for the incident. We run a classic arcade. We respect people who respect us. Too often people come in here thinking that they can do what ever they want, because of other arcades they have been in. We are not like other arcades- we are vintage games for the most part. Our games almost all cost 25cents. Everyone keeps thinking that I hate kids- that isn’t true. I don’t like seeing kids get hurt- hence the “within arms reach” rule is in place. Parents try to bend this rule so they can play their game while neglecting their child. I am just fed up with kids getting hurt for the same reason- they weren’t in arms reach. I choose to let some families still bring their kids because of the way they behave. It has nothing to do with discrimination. I don’t base these actions on race, creed, religion, or anything of that sort- just how you behave in public & in my business. I know some people really hate that businesses have rights too.

  • Dorky’s Arcade

    Sorry to burst every ones bubble- but a business has the right to refuse service to people. If we chose to let some families stay in here & not others, it is our right. We didn’t start this controversy- we merely responded to it, since we were being slammed all over the internet. I didn’t have any say in who else replied- there were people who were for us & against us- many of those people were not present for the incident. We run a classic arcade. We respect people who respect us. Too often people come in here thinking that they can do what ever they want, because of other arcades they have been in. We are not like other arcades- we are vintage games for the most part. Our games almost all cost 25cents. Everyone keeps thinking that I hate kids- that isn’t true. I don’t like seeing kids get hurt- hence the “within arms reach” rule is in place. Parents try to bend this rule so they can play their game while neglecting their child. I am just fed up with kids getting hurt for the same reason- they weren’t in arms reach. I choose to let some families still bring their kids because of the way they behave. It has nothing to do with discrimination. I don’t base these actions on race, creed, religion, or anything of that sort- just how you behave in public & in my business. I know some people really hate that businesses have rights too.

  • Luvenrake

    I am very dismissive of any criticism regarding management towards this establishment, you open the door and know the owner’s primary goal. You simply can not find this many arcade and pinball machines in one place that isn’t a museum of sorts.
    Arcades have evolved a lot since their inception, and this needs to be known. Today’s (B)arcades can not rely just quarters anymore, so more “adult” themes have to be pursued to ensure a flow of revenue (beer, food, nostalgia, etc). A liquor license creates more opportunities, but of course can create issues regarding the admittance of minors. Seeing as how adults will always have more money than children, I would not understand a business model that catered towards children.There are far more appropriate places for children, city parks spring to mind instantly. B & I is great if you want to turn a blind-eye to your children and let them break expensive equipment (and further the general disrespect towards original craftsmanship). 

  • Victim_14

    The joys and pitfalls of running an all ages place. No one is ever truly happy. They have a 9pm cut off for people under 21, and people complain about that. They close for special events, people complain about that. They have a rule about not putting your drinks on the games and people even complain about THAT. Lets face it people will complain about anything and over exaggerate to make them seem more a victim then the situation might of actually been. I think this lady just might of disliked being reprimanded and her bruised ego had to vent on the internet. 

    • Janesmith6752

      So true, if you don’t like the way they run their establishment don’t go. When I have a bad enough experience somewhere, I simply don’t return. Gotta agree with Dorky’s, I saw the troll session on fb. I’d say it’s the parent’s behavior they’re really trying to keep out.

    • Me

       I didn’t know it was the owner.  I wrote them something and they have turned it into this.  I am unable to answer them back because I am defriended.  She didn’t hurt my ego at all.  I have witnesses to her actions and she can’t deny them so she just has a problem because someone called her out on the way she treats people.

  • Regentcid

    Strange that this article neglects to mention that Dorky’s will be appointing awesome kids buttons for those kids known to be have well. Basically they just don’t want to be a daycare. Plenty of kids are weel behaved, but without screening you end up with kids climbing on machines, running outside unaccompanied, or trying to buy rockstar. All of which isn’t nearly as bad as the negative reaction of parents being asked to mind said children. Nobody wants to be in the uncomfortable postion of having to tell people how to watch there children, and with a bacade in downtown Tacoma it is clear that its not the sort of place for kids to be going unattended to begin with.

    • Kenandhuck

      Why in the world would a business not only allow under age children but advertise that it is all ages until 9pm and then bitch about them? Why in the world would a business have expensive old vintage arcade games and allow liquor?? It seems to me that maybe they should have thought this out a little bit more?? I also think its strange that this business is being so defensive about one complaint, realistically a business owner would contact the disgruntled customer privately and work it out or just ignore it all together, but it seems that they are being extremely defensive..

      • Crazycatwoman

        Back in the day the Better Business Bureau  or in the store is where people posted their complaints whether they are valid or not, today it’s on social networks, it happens, and if your going to put your name out there then you need to be prepared for the publics reactions….. and any business owner should be prepared to take the good with the bad.

      • Me

         Thank you Kenanhuck.  I didn’t know it was the owner when i put up the complaint. Now defriended I can’t say anything about it either.  I have witnesses to her actions she is just mad that someone called her out about how she treats people.

    • Beautifulginger23

      Im really confused about something, If a business doesn’t want to be a daycare then why in the world would you have  a business that allows all ages? that makes absolutely no sense to me..

      • Djrekles

        We allow people to bring their kids so they can show them what a real arcade is. Plenty of people understand this play games with the fam and have a beer. We only sell beer no liquor, big difference. I have a 10yr old son and love to play pinball with him. I opened cause there was no place to play around here besides bowling alleys. (Bowling alleys are all age and serve beer and liquor). Games are better with beer.

        As I mentioned I can fix all the games. Not a big deal game are easy to fix and it keeps me busy. I can’t fix your kid if they get hurt. We want everyone to have fun and be safe too.

      • Forever

        the whole point of “not being a daycare” just means they want You to watch your kids. Would you let your child wander around a grocery store, climb up all the shelves, open every box of cereal to find the toy they want? A grocery store is open to all ages just like Dorky’s was, but they are not responsible for taking care of your child, that’s the parents job!

    • Me

       My child was never unattended and for people to assume that they don’t know the facts.  We had 7 adults.  He was with his 10 year old sister or with is aunts or me his mother at all times.  I don’t let me kid out of my site unless he is with someone I know.  I am not stupid and know what happen and have witnesses to prove it but no on bothers to ask me what happened or anyone else that was at the place with us.  We went there at 6 we weren’t there in the daylight.  We didn’t know it was a barcade it was our first time being their.  We did an impromptu birthday party for my sister who is older and a mom of a 19 year old autistic child.  If we would have known it was going to be like that then we wouldn’t have gone.  I drove out from Enumclaw because I heard it was the best place around for kids and adults to have fun together and now I am Disrespectful parent with an uncontrollable brat is what was said….Like I said we will stick with Louie G’s.

      • Dorkys253

        His 10 year old sister is not an adult. My attitude was from every adult not paying attention to the kids they brought in. I was not the one who called your child an uncontrollable brat. But they are out there. Next to the child is different than 10 feet away. I’m glad you don’t let your child out of your site… but that wasn’t the rule. Next to- arms length- that’s the rule. Get over yourself. The only comments I erased, were ones where people were being overly rude.. I erased plenty that were defending us too, that were out of line. Who the hell has an impromptu party with that many people & doesn’t even call the business ahead of time. I’ll tell you- a person who has no respect for other people. 
        One good thing came from all of this, a better quality of parents. SO many parents bring their kids in now & we have little to no problem with  them staying WITHIN ARMS REACH OF THEIR CHILD AT ALL TIME!!!
        Like I said… get over yourself.
        & I am rude, when people think they have the right to come into my business & treat me like shit. I’m glad you were in my face, because I would have really laid into you if you ever talked/treated my staff like you treated me. Of course your family sided with you, what kind of family member would side against you. But after weeding out people like you our business has gotten way better. So, thanks!

  • HappyOwnersAssociation

    I for one would never set foot in this establishment based on the owner’s lack of respect to anyone who has an opinion about her actions besides herself. She doesn’t care to even attempt to rectify any complaints and as she has so eloquently said, doesn’t care if people think her food taste like crap. ANYONE who runs a business this way is a sad excuse of a business owner. If small business owners who serve food don’t “give a crap” how their food taste then that’s exactly what it will taste like and they’ll go under in no time. She gave a “crap” so much she attempted to get voted best sandwich in the King 5 best of contest? Fat chance of that now!

    I’ll fly to Vegas and visit the Pinball Hall of Fame before I go anywhere near this “craptastic” place.

    • Djrekles

      If you actualy read the reviews dorky’s makes the best sandwiches in Tacoma.

    • LaughingOtter

      Good luck with that. Do tell us how that turns out. Tim Arnold (who runs the Pinball Hall of Fame) isn’t shy at all about giving ANY kid the boot he doesn’t like. He gave three kids the boot the day we were there for the PinPin Anti-Drain Tournament earlier this year. The parents weren’t happy, but Tim is adamant about parental supervision. Two of the kids who got kicked out were running around and one of them tripped over a game player. That’s the sort of thing that leads to unnecessary lawsuits, and who do you think would get screwed on that deal? Case in point: Mom brings brat to furniture store, brat trips and falls on something while running around, and even though the store people warned the mother several times about her kid, the mom still successfully sued the furniture store. True story. Look it up.

      Actually, Dorky’s food is very good. I always make a point of having a proper meal when I’m there. There will always be people who disagree with other people’s cooking. Saw that often enough working as a prep/sous chef. Screw them. McDonald’s is right up the street.

      Another nice little fact for you to digest is that people come from all over the USA to play at Dorky’s. Canada, too.

      I’ve been playing in arcades all up and down the West Coast for the last 42 years. I was once one of those 7-year-old kids, but my friend and I were interested enough in pinball that we actually learned how to play the game properly, so were welcome in the two local arcades. There are such things as well-behaved kids in the arcade. One of the mid-rank players in the Seattle Pinball League is only 11. Two other pre-teen players there, too.

      Dorky’s is a Gold Standard for what arcades once were in the 1980 and 1990s. It helps if you think of the place as more an interactive museum than an arcade, because that’s what it is as well!

    • Dorkys253

      I didn’t say I didn’t give a crap about how the food tasted, I said I didn’t care if SHE thought the food tasted like crap, because she was complaining about everything. I bend over backwards for people, but this lady is on a vendetta & made a point to not talk to me in person. Just blast me on facebook & every other forum she could find. People who come to me to resolve issues they have, usually turn out great. But that takes both parties. We care about every aspect of our business, that’s why we don’t want people coming in here that think they are the only thing in the flipping universe that matter. Since you said you won’t be coming here for yourself, then I guess you’ll never know.  

  • http://www.ephealy.com/ Ed Healy

    The Gamerati are going to go check this puppy out in a couple weeks. Hope to see you there: http://www.facebook.com/events/415964878418174/

  • Guest

    I LOVE Dorkys! I’m not even remotely familiar with this incident but just want to put out there how much I enjoy going to this establishment, playing games from my childhood and being surrounded by like-minded people. Its a unique place and I wish there were more places like it.

    I can sympathize with the business owner in terms of having to make rules about children. Every parent has different ideas about what is appropriate and what is not in terms of behavior in public. The bottom line is the business gets to make that decision, not the parent. Dorkys is not a daycare, nor should the owners have to babysit children on the equipment. I also work in an establishment with expensive equipment and constantly have to remind kids to get off of it. I often have parents who disagree with me on that issue. The bottom line is your kids are not the exception to the rule and that the establishment gets to the make the decision. Its laughable that someone would consider that discrimination.

  • T. Molnar

    Fact: Gameworks in Seattle, older than Dorky’s, also serves Alcohol and promotes an “All ages” environment. However if any customer, regardless of age, shows to be a problem, they escort them out. I only know this because during a convention across the street, we attempted to go in while in costume and they told us to leave because that was forbidden there.(mostly due to props). I’ve seen kids and parents be escorted from gameworks. Restrictive rules is not exclusive to one business alone and bad incidents that have been repeated not usually by the same customer are the cause of implementation of those rules. I wasn’t there, I don’t know what happened, however I did see the comments on facebook and it could have been dealt better, yes, but ultimately the decision was made that best protects both business and customer.