The Town That Banned Video Games, Seriously

Video games have gotten blamed for everything from causing aggression in kids to causing laziness and truancy. For almost as long as these ludicrous claims have been around, there has also been the threat of banning certain games. One small Massachusetts town took this threat to the next level by actually banning arcade games way back in 1982.  The reason for the ban?

The games are said to be addictive to youth, who will skip school and spend unreasonable sums of money to play them at a quarter — and sometimes 50 cents — a pop, says Thomas R. Jackson, a retired narcotics agent and the resident who proposed the ban. Further, he says, gambling and drug activity are connected to the video game locations where youth congregate unsupervised.

These were actual words from a real life human being. To be fair, this ban was enacted in the infancy of video games, so I can see how the more alarmist opinions were the ones that were listened to. Opponents of the ban weren’t even defending video games, but instead were focused on the ramifications towards other entertainment mediums.

Residents of Marshfield, MA unsuccessfully tried to get the ban repealed in 1994, and astoundingly even as recently as 2011. I don’t know what confounds me more: the fact that they couldn’t get the decision overturned or that three years ago people still equated arcade cabinets with truancy. Things weren’t as smooth as would be assumed this vote either. While the law was repealed by a town vote, the final count was 203 votes to 175. Really? 175 people? Dammit, western MA. Way to make the rest of us look like jackasses. God forbid they ever find out about these home console things coming from Japan. Who knows how long they’ll ban those for.

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