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Why One Massachusetts Town Banned Every Single Arcade Game

Although it doesn't happen very often, the banning of video games isn't an entirely new concept. Games that depict extreme violence or are overly controversial have faced legal consequences when developers of said titles were brought to court. Titles such as The Guy Game and Thrill Kill were banned in the United States and have become perfect examples of what not to include in a video game. Franchises like Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct have also pushed the envelope as to how much adult content video games could get away with but managed to slip by in the end.


But in one small Massachusetts town, all arcade games were completely banned, regardless of the content. Even child-friendly games like Pac-Man or Space Invaders had no place in the town of Marshfield. We can only imagine how miserable it must have been to be a kid in Marshfield during the '80s. So what did this town have against gaming?

Marshfield's parents feared for their children's futures

Marshfield, Massachusetts, was faced with a crisis unlike no other during 1982, and it came in the form of arcade machines. Parents in the town were anxious that their children would become addicted to these new contraptions and start stealing money in order to continue to feed their gaming habit. In fact, they were so worried that they decided to expand an existing 1972 ban on coin machines to include arcade games.


The town was taken to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for this proposal, and they actually won the battle. The court ruled that the ban was "a proper exercise of the town of Marshfield's police power." The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in 1983, and children all across Marshfield were left out of the arcade gaming craze of the '80s. The ban was finally repealed in 2014, but considering that arcade machines had essentially died by the 2010s, it didn't really matter anymore. But who knows? Maybe someone who'd lived in Marshfield all their life finally got to experience Donkey Kong for the first time. And that's definitely worth over 30 years of waiting.