The Lobster Claw Machine: Intriguing or Disturbing?
Have you ever seen this contraption in Maine?
Roughly five years ago, claw machines started cropping up all over the US in seafood restaurants. That's right; the arcade game where you put in money and use controls to zero in on a target and drop the claw to claim your prize. However in these new iterations of the classic game, instead of toys and dollar store tchotchkes, there are - you guessed it - live lobsters. According to comments on the reddit post below, machines have been spotted in Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Nevada to name a few... Even Japan and a similar crab version in China!
The gimmick of the game is that squirming lobsters are arguably harder than inanimate objects to grasp with the grabby claw, but if you succeed despite your odds, you're eating lobster for free. Unsurprisingly, PETA calls the invention a new-age torture machine, while Kitchen Nightmares host and acclaimed chef Gordon Ramsey went so far as to include one in a restaurant makeover. So what's the verdict: are these augmented arcade games horrifyingly disrespectful to our crustacean friends or a simple way to make selection of our entree a bit more interactive?
One seasoned arcade claw machine champion Nate Ferra of Arizona described the jarring nature of playing the game, indicating his relief at his own failure:
"My heart started racing. And I was like, Oh my God. I started to realize -- I thought they were docile or whatever, I didn't know they moved so fast and stuff. And it was kind of like fighting the claw, which would be cool if they didn't tape it up so it had a fair chance. It would be able to fight the claw. All I can say is that I'm glad I didn't win anything. And I'll probably never play that thing again."
I have yet to see one in Maine, which is basically "lobster central" of the world. Why is that? Are we above this display of the darker side of humanity, or have we just not caught up to the rest of the country?