No, unfortunately, this is not the answer to Chuck E. Cheese's that the above bloggers are craving. However, Nolan Bushnell, the creator of the first video game, Pong, the Atari game system and Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theater (the predecessor of Chuck E. Cheese's), believes he has the next big thing. His uWink Media Bistro is a 300-seat restaurant set to launch this fall in Los Angeles and then spread nationwide (that is, if it is a hit).
uWink Media Bistro will combine a restaurant and a video-gaming center. "It's a party and playful place for young, media-savvy adults -- not your Aunt Tilly," says Busnell. He says his new venue will be a throwback to when video games were played between people.
uWink will be different than adult eatertainment concepts like ESPN Zone and Dave & Buster's. Patrons at uWink will use touch-screen monitors installed at every dinner table, booth and barstool to play games, order food, cruise the Internet, play music and watch videos. Some 70 video and trivia games are planned for competitive play for prizes, free food and uWink merchandise. A video floor game will also be included.
uWink patrons will be given a debit card when they enter, and by swiping it, they will open an account, paying for whatever is charged to the card. Patrons will place their orders from a digital menu of burgers, pizza, salads and drinks using the video system, as there are no waiters or waitresses, only employees who will deliver the orders.
Bushnell developed the touch-screen technology and the games. The games are easy to learn but "hard to master," Bushell says. Each 2½-minute game will cost about 25¢ and is designed to engage people in social playing, such as a six-person version of Pong.
"People used to play games to socialize with one another before technology allowed them to play at home," Bushell says. Video games today "are about social isolation. There needs to be a place that brings a little more balance..., We want to shift back to a time when people played games to build relationships."
We think Bushnell's concept has promise. We believe its success
will not only be dependent on the games Bushnell includes, but also the
quality and relevance of both the food and the restaurant's ambiance
to the young adult market uWink is targeting.