I got a lot of great feedback on my project that made me rethink how I designed my solutions (which indicates that designing for yourself can possibly cause you to be selfish). One of the most insightful responses was:
How do you think customers would react to a more “assigned seating” sort of approach? Do you think there would be some who stopped going to that theater?
Which is an excellent point. Movies are all about escaping “real” life and experiencing a strange, fantastic, alternate world; the last thing anyone would want is to be controlled in a setting where people often go to get away from the rigidity of everyday experiences. I agree that many would stop going to theaters outright and wait for the movie to come out.
Assuredly, there are solutions to program a functional system that distributes theater seats while keeping in consideration group size, seat position, accessibility, and traffic patterns, but this system will never be able to gauge how much the user wants that seat or the suitability of that user’s preferences to the people next to him/her. If the seating assignment system is discarded, that leaves the current system in place of selecting your own seat on a diagram that exists outside the theater space. As I mentioned in my Pressure Project post, this removes the user from being able to avoid sitting next to a loud family, a crying baby, or those jerks that browse their phones the whole time.
I prefer the time-tested method of buying a ticket at the door and picking your own seat from inside the theater. This way, people who arrive the earliest are rewarded with the first pick of seats, groups can choose seats that are together, and you can choose edge, middle, or corner seats depending on your preference. I personally feel that the ticket kiosks are over-engineering an experience that is fine as it is.