September 9, 2005

Chuck E. Cheese on Fortune’s Wheel

by Nick Montfort · , 12:31 am

Proud Americans will recall the other great corporate innovation of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell: Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theater, where one room featured a band of mechanical animal automata and others housed a resplendent array of video games, not to mention that great cash cow, skee ball. International readers and nostalgic Americans alike can find copious information online about the history of Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theater and Showbiz Pizza Place. Curious readers can learn about the different stage configurations and the transition from a band of robot entertainers to a single animatronic rat/mouse supported by video screens; they can even read reviews of shows. Those who remain puzzled after reviewing these documents may need to study this nation’s cultural context further.

I still remember whining to be taken to Chuck E. Cheese’s the last time I spotted one, but no matter how much I pleaded, Scott wouldn’t stop the car. I guess that may be one of those rare occasions when he knew best. Franchises are now showing Department of Defense propaganda to pizza-eating children and calling in the police to taser a patron suspected of stealing from the salad bar. Despite nostalgia, I think I’ll be finding another outlet for my whack-a-mole urges.