Dave & Buster's Is Watching You

The food and entertainment chain has a new way to feed folks while they game.

My 15th birthday party was at Dave & Buster's, because I was very, very cool. The orders of greasy potato skins, the oh-so-sophisticated swipe-card system that dispensed your Skee-Ball winnings right into your account rather than spitting out paper tickets—the place felt like the hip, urban, decidedly teenaged alternative to Chuck E. Cheese's. These days, D&B is catering to the young people by tracking their data using cool new technology. Game on!

According to an article on Nation's Restaurant News with the perplexing headline "Dave & Buster's opens Coca-Cola market with automated checkout," Dave & Buster's is testing out a new grab-and-go minimart inside its Hollywood, Florida location. Rather than sitting down to a full meal at the restaurant, guests now have the option to head straight for the gaming area with some grab-and-go snacks and drinks—which they pay for via technology that scans their movements as they make their selections. Here's how NRN describes it:

The technology works much like a walk-through vending machine, where customers can put their credit card through EMV technology. Then the sensors assign an identification to the customer's head and hands and can identify when a customer picks up a Coca-Cola bottle and bag of chips, or when they put it back down. The customer is only charged when they walk out of the store.

I love having an identification assigned to my head and hands by sensors. That is, in fact, my favorite way to purchase Coca-Cola products. How did D&B know?

How Dave & Buster’s “Game & Go” model works

The technology is that of Zippin, a company specializing in "frictionless" payment solutions in order to "banish standing in line—for good." NRN notes that this technology also requires fewer staffers to oversee food and beverage transactions, a plus for any restaurant dealing with staffing shortages.


This sort of technology has been in place at Amazon Go Grocery locations for some time, and it's worth pointing out that for all the cost associated with the implementation, maintenance, and updating of this technology, any business wooed by customer-scanning capabilities could always just... hire workers. In fact, the Dave & Buster's "Game & Go" store will have to have employees on hand in order to check the ID of anyone purchasing alcohol. Are Dave & Buster's locations so swamped with customers seeking snack chips that the same employee couldn't just ring people up as needed? Must we all opt into a full-body scan when we decide we could use a little treat?

I love a good Dave & Buster's. I like watching skilled Pop-a-Shot competitors and sipping Blue Moon as I strategize the best way to approach the Star Trek coin-pusher game. I'm glad to see that this chain has weathered the pandemic and is ready to try new things. I just think we should all be able to enjoy these creature comforts without turning our credit cards into our bodies' GPS systems. Or is the idea of analog interactions becoming increasingly hopelessly romantic?