As a card-carrying member of the human race, there are a number of things that have to be fought on a regular basis. The big one that I run across over and over again in Game Design is players going blind.
Not in a literal sense. I could (and sometimes do) develop for that, but in a figurative one. Once something becomes familiar, the brain sort of shunts it out of the way, you stop *looking* at it and it becomes background noise.
The peanuts at our local Burger Chain serve (to me, as a game designer) a dual purpose. 1. They give the customers something to snack on because it takes a while to cook food. I can only imagine how many 7 year old appetites have been ruined by the “free peanut” policy.
Reason #2 is, as a game designer, far more interesting. See, floors are annoying. They gather crud of all kinds, they have to be mopped and swept. In many eating establishments you find that the floors are brightly patterned or darkly colored to try and hide this. They are high-traffic places and as such, have a high maintenance. But to an employee, those floors become invisible after awhile, they go blind to the state of the floors. Not because they necessarily don’t care, but because that’s just what happens after a while. The floors are also one of the first things a player, erm, patron sees when they come in the door.
Your establishment is JUDGED by the state of your floors.
So a dark tile floor, coupled with peanut shells would be a recipe for disaster, right?
See, those shells draw attention to themselves. The patterns change all the time, they get kicked around. There’s always something new to see (unlike that one french fry in the corner), the patterns change and the brain is triggered to see what’s different. Fries and other comestibles don’t really drop often enough, or in enough quantity to trigger this effect.
So the floors stop becoming invisible.
The peanuts, possibly incidentally, solve the problem of clean floors by making those floors dirty, but in such a way as to draw attention to them. So while you might think that providing such a thing as un-shelled peanuts is crazy, I’m thinking it’s “crazy like a fox”.