Skip to main content

Massachusetts Town Lifts 32 Year Ban On Arcade Games

Pogs, roller-blading and R.L. Stine still non-negotiable.


If you grew up in Marshfield, Massachusetts, then it’s unlikely that Pac Man, pepperoni farts, and fanny packs full of quarters hold their rightful place of reverence in your heart– the small town just repealed a 32 year ban on arcade games.

The Christian Science Monitor covered Marshfield’s Pong prohibition when it was first instigated in 1983, collecting anti-arcade quotes that veer into John Lithgow Footloose territory. Jim Judge, an instigator of the ban who was raising three young daughters in Marshfield at the time, explained to the  Monitor why forbidding Pong and Pinball would protect the moral fabric of his community:

This is a progressive step in that it protects life in a small town from an urban-type hony-tonk environment . . . the fewer distractions of that type, the easier it is to transfer my ideas and values to my youngster.

Yup! An urban, “honky-tonk environment.” That’s definitely the kind of arcade experience I had growing up. My mom was totally never there to dab grease off my pizza and/or tears off my face.

Jim Judge’s wife Betsy agreed with her husband that the devil was alive and well and educating Marshfield youth in the ways of ghost-eating, saying ”If we have these [arcades] in the town, it draws the wrong type of people and we want to protect our town.” Mrs. Judge admitted to The Monitor that while she herself hadn’t witnessed the corrupting influence of gaming firsthand,  she remained suspicious of “hanging out” in general.

Did you ever go to an R-rated movie? Look around and see how many 10-year-olds are there on a Saturday afternoon. Let’s not have it, if we can’t enforce it.

The ban was initiated by retired narcotics agent and full-time hard ass Thomas R. Jackson, who believed arcade games were addictive, wasted students’ hard-earned quarters, and encouraged truancy, drug use, and gambling. The town’s distrust of coin-ops remained even as the golden age of arcading arguably ended– attempts to overturn the ban in 1994 and 2011 were unsuccessful.

Marshfield resident Craig Rondeau recently encouraged local business owners to put the law to another vote, and earlier this week the ban was finally repealed 203 to 175. Yup, even in 2014 almost 200 of the town’s most influential members are still concerned about raising a generation of Donkey Kong delinquents.

For those of you Marshfieldians now lacking the arcade nostalgia that should be your birthright as a twenty or thirty-something, enjoy making up for lost time. And good luck! God knows how your neighbors will feel about Oculus Rift.

(via Uproxx and Christian Science Monitor, images via Sam Howzit)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue: