Earlier this week, a number of virtual citizens who were cast out years ago were allowed to come back to a small town in Massachusetts. A law was passed in 1982 which banned stores from having coin-operated video games on their property. The law has now been overturned, and PacMan and his comrades are now able to return to Marshfield.
Upon hearing the story, most find it hard to believe that there is a town out there that spent so much time without something the rest of the world took for granted; coin operated arcade games. In 1982 the town of Marshfield, Massachusetts passed a law that banned their local businesses from having classic arcade games on their floors. The citizens who voted the law into power claimed that the games were addictive to children and caused them to completely dump their spare change into the games. They also claimed that kids were skipping school to spend more time playing the games and top of everything else the arcade games were accused of bringing an “undesirable crowd” into the town.
Local business owners tried to fight the law in 1983, but the Supreme Court refused to open a case on the matter. The small town had succeeded in kicking PacMan out of their small town in Massachusetts. Citizens continued to uphold the ban on two separate occasions. The first time was in 1994 and the second time was in 2011, but both times were successful and the ban continued to remain active.
In 1983 an article was published in Christian Science Monitor. The article supported those in favor of the ban and reinforced their arguments by stating that the game is addictive to kids. It went on to say that kids would skip school and pay large sums of their money to keep playing games. Thomas R. Jackson, who used to be a narcotics agent, is the person who proposed the ban. He stated that gambling and drugs are connected to the places where people play video games.
One concerned citizen, who grew up in the small town of Marshfield, brought about a petition which would nullify the ban and bring arcade games back to his home town for all to enjoy. That citizen’s name was Craig Rondeau . When the ban came about, he was in the fourth grade. Rondeau stated that he believes video games help children learn social skills when they are playing with friends, hone their problem solving skills, and encourage creative thinking. He went on to say that the games allow those who don’t enjoy sports to experience a challenge,
Rondeau’s petition was successful in bringing the ban to the attention of the officials in a town meeting. During the meeting, citizens voted on whether or not the ban would remain in effect. A majority vote was needed to defeat the ban and the votes tallied showed the results as 203 to 175. The ban was overturned by a narrow margin and now PacMan and a number of other games are able to return to the town of Marshfield, Massachusetts.
The ban in 1983 is an earlier version of the stigma video games receive today. Parents all over the country are quick to blame video games for their kids not doing well in school, or not wanting to spend time with their families. An advocate for the opposing view, resident Nicki Boutiette stated that she met her husband at her college gaming club, and that parents who do not wish for their children to play should simply not allow them to, rather than legislate their parenting duties. It is the strength of arguments like hers and those of Craig Rondeau that have allowed PacMan and other games like it to make their return to Marshfield, Massachusetts.
By Mike White