By Michelle Curtis on May 7, 2014 at 8:00am
Remember the thrill of walking into your local arcade? The bright lights of your favorite game shining like a beacon, the rattle of quarters in your pockets as you made your way to the machine, the hype of another Saturday night spent in the bluish glow of your favorite arcade cabinet. For many people of a certain age, the nostalgia of their early days of gaming often evokes these memories. However, if you grew up in Marshfield, Mass., chances are that you never got those experiences.
Marshfield is known for its history. Founded in 1620, it was an early Pilgrim colony. It also holds the honor of being the birthplace of Peregrine White, the first English child born in New England. It made the history books in the 20th century too by banning coin-operated video games in 1982. Many local business owners fought the ban, but in July 1983, the state Supreme Judicial Court upheld the ban, citing that it “did not, as applied to video game entertainment, infringe upon any right of free expression guaranteed under the Federal or State Constitution.” This was the first state court decision to uphold this law.
Proponents of the ban explained that coin-op video games and like-entertainment robbed children of their hard-earned quarters and created an unsavory environment for the youth. According to Thomas R. Jackson, a returned narcotics agent and resident who proposed the ban:
The games are said to be addictive to youth who will skip school and spend unreasonable sums of money to play them at a quarter -- and sometimes 50 cents -- a pop.
There were five titles named in the case: "Ms. Pac-Man," "Tron," "Donkey Kong," "Zaxxon," and "Kangaroo."
However, 32 years after the case, Marshfield is in the news again - this time, for repealing the ban on arcade games. Residents overturned the bylaw banning coin-operated amusements in a majority vote of 203-175. Proposals to lift the ban had been made previously, once in 1994 and again in 2011.
What great gaming experiences did the youth of Marshfield miss in 32 years?
- Mario Brothers" (1983).
- "Punch Out!" (1984).
- "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (1989).
- "Street Fighter II" (1991).
- "Tekken Tag" (1999).
And that's just the bottom of the barrel, Donkey Kong.
Notable Game Release Dates Tekken Tag Arcade Game Releases Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game Marshfield, MA history Court Case: Marshfield, MA 1983 article on ban Patriot-Ledger article Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong