A 30-Year Ban on Video Games… in America

Photo: Kevin Twombly

Photo: Kevin Twombly

The photos above are from an unidentified 1983 story about a ban prohibiting the use of “any mechanical or electronic amusement device, whether coin-operated or not” in the coastal town of Marshfield, Massachusetts. (Exceptions were made for devices used in the home.) The ban, initially passed by a “smut”-conscious minority of residents in 1982 and immediately appealed by Marshfield business owners whose game cabinets were removed by police, was upheld the following year by the  Massachusetts Supreme Court.

It was upheld by Marshfield residents again in 1994 and one more time, by a vote of 655 to 544, in 2011. Apparently Marshfield doesn’t understand that (1) we live in a free country, and (2) it’s the 21st century and everyone is holding an “electronic amusement device.” Maybe they’ll ban iPhones next.

It’s like all those apocryphal stories of Japanese (or German) soldiers trapped on a deserted island for 20 years who, after getting rescued, refuse to believe that the war is over and their side lost. It’s also a real life version of Footloose, which might be even more desperately sad. Where’s Kevin Bacon on a tractor (or reciting applicable biblical verses) when you need him?

You can read about the original ban in the December 1983 issue of InfoWorld magazine. And check out the 2011 decision in The Patriot Ledger.

(Image source: Lexibell Vintage Photos)

3 Responses to “A 30-Year Ban on Video Games… in America”


  1. 1 leftylimbo September 5, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Crazy! How (in ’94) they thought arcade games would lead to the influx of “smut” is ridiculous!

  2. 2 2W2N September 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    They thought it would lead to smut in 2011!


  1. 1 TV News Story, 1981: `Video Games Are Colonizing the Planet’ | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on May 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm

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