Video Game Hysteria News Report from 1982 Shows How Much The Media Scared Us
Once upon a time, there was a world before Fortnite, COD, and even Angry Birds when most people needed to visit arcades and other public places to get their video game fix. Yet instead of enjoying their time outside of the house, socializing at arcades as they gamed with their friends, basically, everyone and their mom thought that video games were actively destroying their brains, sparking mass hysteria among parents. "GRONK! FLASH! ZAP! Video Games are Blitzing the World!" read a cover of Time Magazine in 1982.
Meanwhile, a Dallas suburb banned children under the age of 17 from gaming without direct supervision from a parent or guardian, with The New York Times publishing a letter to the editor, saying that video games were "cultivating a generation of mindless, ill-tempered adolescents," according to Smithsonian Magazine. In short, the panic was very, very real.
Last week, Twitter account @bostonradio shared a clip from a vintage CBS news segment dating back to July 1982, reporting on how Boston began zoning video game machines at the urging of concerned parents, terrified of how Space Invaders had invaded their town.
In an attempt to curb this "electronic blight," with 4,000 to 5,000 consoles popping up in arcades, pizza parlors, grocery stores, and drugstores, city officials passed regulatory laws, only allotting video games in commercial or industrial areas. Because nothing says good, wholesome fun like a bunch of unsupervised children heading down to their local factory district area to play some Pac-Man, right? Apparently not. "Officials say they are responding to complaints from parents that children have skipped school or stolen money to play the games and made a nuisance of themselves," the anchor said over footage of kids seemingly having a great time playing games.
"Senior citizens have rights, they have rights to go into the laundromat and wash their laundry in peace," Commissioner of Licenses, Joanne Prevost, said in what may plausibly be the world's thickest Boston accent. "They don't have to go buy two or three machines, our kids congregating and passing fast remarks as they walk in, and terrorizing them, in some instances, as they go in."
Those meddling, video-game-playing children, get 'em every time. After cutting to an incredibly awkward shot of a kid taking his shirt off in front of a machine before more community members expressed their ire with video games, one local youth was simply not having this slander. "You're always talking about this [demeaning], making kids minds like vegetables, talk about them on the street smoking pot," Point taken, kid. Point taken.
The '80s! What a time!