Massachusetts Town Lifts 32-Year Ban on Arcade Games

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dig dug

Video games have been scapegoats for all sorts of bad behavior and grownups who never even picked up a controller have tried to keep them out of the hands of children since the days of the Atari 2600. One town, however, took it farther than just about any other in America when they passed an outright ban on arcade video games back in 1982.

Marshfield, Massachusetts finally got around to overturning that confusing and outdated law that made it illegal for businesses to offer coin-up video and arcade games to their customers. They left the decision up to the voters and the vote was still fairly close with a final tally of 203-175. The law went on the books after some council members believed that the publicly operated video game machines would turn its younger residents into…well, we’re not really sure. It’s hard to see how games like Pac-Man and Dig Dug could turn children into hardened criminals unless those “power pellets” that Pac-Man was eating had a lot more “power” than we thought.

Opponents of the measure tried to get the Supreme Court to overturn the ban but they refused to hear the case and the ban stayed in effect ever since then. Voters were given the option of overturning the ban twice in 1994 and 2011 but they voted it down each time. Of course, it’s a little late now that arcades are disappearing from malls, shopping centers and movie theaters. They seem almost quaint compared to the powerful console machines that occupy our living rooms and dens. Still, some of our fondest video game memories came from arcades. So we sincerely hope that the town of Marshfield will be able to make up for all that lost time by getting its own massive arcade or even some kind of classic video game convention.

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