Took the family bowling yesterday. What happened to what used to be a relaxing afternoon in the lanes, trying to knock down a set of pins 60 feet away with a heavy round ball? Technology has been changing this sport for a long time, so this isn’t new to anyone, but it struck me yesterday how the casual bowling experience is entirely different than it was twenty plus years ago. I’m sure the owners of the alleys are happy, as they are able to cram more bowlers into an afternoon than ever before, and the accountants for those alleys are happy, as they can track more effective use of each alley and indeed every ball that is thrown down the lanes, but is the casual player still happy?
Does anyone else miss coloring in the little boxes? …teaching the little ones how to add up the score after a spare or strike? …taking a practice turn at the start to get a “feel” for the lanes? The score is done instantly, and the pin positions after the first ball immediately identified (now, there’s a great “real time” feature). Years ago the area behind the lane had lots of room for everyone, and we used to fight over who could sit at the little lighted table with the overhead projector so the score could be placed overhead. There was advertising on the edges of the score sheet, and lots of room for doodles. It was bad luck to complete the score when someone had a run of strikes, and there was an “extra” throw for fun if you had two strikes and (say) a seven on the third throw of the tenth frame.
Now it’s all done for you. The cashier entered our names at the counter, we prepaid for all the games we would play (and the next family was “waiting” to enter the lane when we were almost thru), you couldn’t compare one game vs another, and the whole thing was rushed. We finished two games in 1/2 the time that it took years ago and the afternoon was not as satisfying as it could have been. Something was missing. Perhaps it was just the location. Hard to say.
Technology is great, and as a data integration specialist, I’m intrigued about the data warehouse some of the companies must have, breaking down revenue by the number of balls thrown. But this is one place where “real time” has diminished the overall experience.