I Lost my Redbox Virginity

What a feeling.

So I wrote an article recently on Blockbuster and the lost art of renting games, which gave me an urge within myself that I hadn’t felt in years. I needed to rent a game. I needed to satisfy that deep, long-lost urge inside of me, but where does one start? The only rental service that I even know of is Redbox, so operation Redbox Rental came to fruition. I had never rented anything from Redbox before, so the question became how do I even do this and what game do I rent?

I had watched movies with friends who had rented them through Redbox, and I had even seen them operate the mystical, Redbox machines (SPOILER ALERT – they look like red boxes). However, I had never physically interacted with the machine itself. I would look like a fool if I went up to my first Redbox and not even walk away with a game, so I needed a plan of action.

My first step was to hit the Redbox website. I then went to the video game section and found the games listed for PlayStation 4. I’ll be honest, the selection isn’t that big, but there are some solid titles in there like Assassins Creed: Odyssey, Spider-Man, and Grand Theft Auto V. However, there was one game that stuck out to me once I saw it, and I instantly knew it would be my first Redbox rental. There it was waiting for me – South Park: The Fractured but Whole.

The way the website works is pretty cool. You click on the game, and you can find what Box it is at near you. I plugged in my zip-code and found there was one in stock close nearby. I hit the road, knowing that heading back home I would be a changed man forever. Things would never be the same.

I pulled up to my local Walgreens ready to rock and roll. I parked near the Redbox machine, ready to conquer the beast. I soon realized that I should have dressed better for the occasion. I was wearing pajama pants and warm, fuzzy slippers. I had no idea how long my first time would take me, and I didn’t want to draw any more attention to myself. At least I had sunglasses on, they made me look a little incognito and gave me added confidence. I just had to get out of the car and do the deed.

I walked up to the red machine and held up the flap that protects the screen from the sun (I guess that’s what it’s for). I easily discovered the game section and found what I was looking for – South Park: The Fractured but Whole was there in stock, and it would soon be mine. I clicked the rent option and chose to rent for three days for just over $7 instead of one day rental for $3, because who is going to rent a game for just one day? The option to buy the disc for around $13 seemed intriguing and a great deal, but I failed to pull the trigger on that one. I hope I don’t regret it later on.

The process of finding the game was simple enough, but the task of finalizing it and paying was a whole other quest. It won’t let you rent a game without an account, so I had to set up an email address with Redbox on site. It then took me to this screen that said they sent me an email to confirm my account, and it stayed on this screen for what seemed like forever. There were no next arrows or anything I could hit, so I patiently waited until the screen took me to the next step to swipe my card for payment.

The payment aspect was awful. The area to swipe isn’t that large, and the screen shows that you can slide either up or down on the machine. I first swiped down, the natural motion, with no luck. I tried again with the same result, then started to swipe up. Still no luck. I flipped my card around several times, trying every combo of up/down swipes I possibly could until the machine finally took my form of payment. News flash Redbox, it’s 2019, get a chip reader!

The struggle made it all worth it when I saw the disc appear on the screen and then move sideways off-screen and out of the slot in the machine. I had done it. I had successfully rented my first game in years; now I just had to get home and play (after installing the game and all of the updates, since that’s the way games work nowadays). I was a changed man, renting a video game in a world where rentals are almost unheard of. I was a rebel. I was free. A whole new world opened up to me, a world with vast movie titles and games galore to try and explore. All thanks to a red box.

Grant Pfost, your gamer bro, enjoys long binges on the couch when he's not binge drinking like he's still in college. A connoisseur of tv and film, Grant hopes his articles will make you laugh, cry, and appreciate the little things in life.

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