I was trading emails the other day with Sarah Rousey and over the course of our writings the subject of pool and kids came up. Over the years, one of the arguments that seems to come up over and over is that video games are killing pool. The theory is that kids are more interested in playing on their Xbox, PS3 or Wii than they are in playing pool. I respectfully disagree.
When I was a kid, I had an Atari 2600. My friends all had either the Atari, Intellivision or Colecovision (yes, this was a long time ago). When we weren’t playing our home gaming systems, we would religiously dump our respective allowances into numerous coin-op games. In addition to having a severe case of Pac-Man fever, I also poured quarters into Donkey Kong, Frogger, Gauntlet, Tron, Q-bert and Galaga (not to mention pinball). This was in fact the height of the coin-op industry’s success and I spent much of my youth in a place that looked a little like this:
Photo Courtesy of Lyons Classic Pinball
The place we played was the local bowling alley. After we got tired of playing video games, we’d bowl a few frames or we’d rent a pool table for a couple hours. We’d do this after school, on weekends and pretty much every day during the summer.
The key though was that we had the opportunity to play. We could go to the bowling alley and play pool whenever we wanted. There were 4 tables which were pretty much always full, so we’d put our name on the waiting list and play video games until a table was available. Nowadays, this sort of scenario just doesn’t happen as much. There are still bowling alleys and arcades, but the accessibility to pool tables seems to be far less than when I was a kid. What’s worse is that many places that have pool tables don’t want to have kids playing on them, in many cases stating you have to be 18 to play pool.
If we want kids to embrace pool, there needs to be greater access to tables. Video games and pool can co-exist. In many ways, the two go hand in hand. If you make pool affordable and accessible to kids, they will play.