Alcohol-favoring bros are abuzz this morning with the newest import from Canada, "Alco-hockey." The Imgur photo appeared on Reddit Friday morning as "the Canadian variation of beer pong," and blew up from there. Fawning writers quickly billed it as a "better beer pong" (SB Nation) and a "total game changer" (Business Insider), championing the union of two great wonders of the world: cheap beer and air hockey.
That unabashed excitement for a drinking game upgrade was the initial assessment I made as well. But upon closer review, alco-hockey falls decidedly short of "next best thing in drinking games" status. In fact, it looks like a waste of a good air hockey table. Alco-hockey fails the basic test of drinking games: It requires too much concentration, it's anti-social, and it just won't work logistically. Here's five reasons why alco-hockey won't ever catch on:
1. Needs more brainless – Beer pong is a simple game for simple minds. You and a partner take a ping pong ball. You toss it into an arrangement of cups. If it goes in, they drink. If you miss, the other team scrambles to get the ball. Then it's their turn to shoot. Easy peasy. This is not a criticism; beer pong's greatest asset is its pure simplicity and ease of access. You shoot, and then you wait, and then shoot again. You don't have to be particularly coordinated (read: sober) to be able to play adequately.
Alco-hockey, meanwhile, requires constant concentration and deft hand-eye movements. Air hockey itself is already difficult enough with just one goal to defend; six goals is downright impossible. It would be like playing beer pong from a foot away, as almost every shot would go in. A good drinking game mixes good-time chugging with something approaching a real challenge. Alco-hockey seems like it would result in a constant barrage of drinking. And when you're sipping PBR, Natty Light, or (heaven-forbid) Genny Light, constantly drinking doesn't sound quite so appealing.
2. No partners – How would you fit two players on an air hockey table? There isn't enough space for each to have their own swinging mallet, and the fear of smashed hands makes this game best played mono a mono. So for binge-drinking introverts, this game's for you. At a packed house party, it's hard to imagine it would work.
3. Wet pucks don't move – Where alco-hockey really falls apart is the logistics. After falling in the beer-filled cups, the puck will be too wet to slide along the table's surface. A towel would fix that, or a dirty pant leg, but wiping down the puck every turn sounds like the least fun, most annoying activity ever. And a sticky table is equally bad.
4. It's not "pong" at all. As Time's Eric Dodds noted on Twitter, not every drinking game is another version of beer pong. It's simple, really: No ping pong ball, no "pong" in the name. Is Quarters an upgraded version of beer pong? What about Kings? Of course not. They aren't upgrades of beer pong, they are just different drinking games. Alco-hockey might be another drinking game, but it certainly is not an upgrade on beer pong.
5. Air hockey itself is more fun. – You can turn any normal game into a drinking contest without changing the basic rules. But cutting out cup-sized holes in the air hockey table, the game changes at a very fundamental level, and not for the better. Look at how great of a time German politician Volker Bouffier is having with regular air hockey!
Air hockey is fun. Drinking (in reasonable amounts) is fun. There is a simpler, much better way to get drunk combining these two that doesn't require handyman skills. Just drink from a beer off to the side after each goal on a regulation table, people. You'll need to use the table as a bed at 2 A.M. anyway. Better that it doesn't have holes drilled into it, damaging the structural integrity.