Token Madness: After 32 years, Marshfield legalizes public arcade games


First medical marijuana, now public arcade games: What next will the hedonistic citizens of Massachusetts vote to legalize?

The Patriot Ledger’s Jessica Trufant  reports that Marshfield has overturned a 1982 bylaw banning coin-operated video and arcade games from local businesses.

Arcade activist Craig Rondeau was behind the push, telling the Patriot Ledger that this was about giving local establishments the “right to choose” on the issue:

“I was sitting thinking, ‘why is this illegal in my town, to have fun with my friends,’” he said, recalling a visit to a Hanover arcade as a child.

Believing that coin-operated video games robbed children’s piggy banks and brought an undesirable element to town, residents passed the ban in 1982. The prohibition split residents and threw Marshfield into the national spotlight as the law made its way through the state’s legal system.

Rondeau said video games help children learn social skills when playing with friends, hone their problem-solving skills and encourage creative thinking. He said the games also allow those who don’t enjoy sports to experience a challenge.

Not everyone was convinced:

Opposed to the proposal, resident Sue Walker said she likes to go out to dinner with her children so she can sit down and eat with them without the distraction of video games.

“There is gaming all over the place, and there’s nothing fun about it,” she said, adding that children running around restaurants is disturbing.

But rather than debating whether or not residents like video games, voter Dave Will told people to consider whether they want to live in a town that bans them.

“Do we want the town to make the decision for restaurants, for where we go to eat, or do we want people to decide where we eat?” he asked.

Still, Rondeau’s activism paid off, with residents voting 203-175 to overturn the ban leaving one less local bastion free of the arcade blight.

Michael Morisy is the founder and former editor of BetaBoston. Follow him on Twitter at @Morisy or email him at
Follow Michael on Twitter