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Have Arcade Games Always Been Popular?

By today's standards, pinball might seem like a simple and harmless game, in contrast to the many video game titles that have attracted controversy for their violent content. In the 1940s, however, major U.S. cities such as New York and Los Angeles considered pinball to be a menace to society -- and made the machines illegal. The problem was that early pinball machines didn't have flippers, so the ball's path and the outcome of a game were essentially random, making it prime territory for gambling. Churches and moralizing politicians also took a stand against the machines, which they thought corrupted the nation's youth and robbed them of their nickels and dimes. It wasn't until the 1970s that pinball became an acceptable pastime, as it came to be deemed more of a game of skill than one of chance.

It's all in the game:

  • Pinball was banned in New York City until 1976. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia sometimes joined the police on raids in which pinball machines were destroyed with sledgehammers.

  • Movies and TV shows set in the mid-20th century often portray rebels as pinball lovers -- the Fonz from Happy Days is a prime example.

  • Released in 1992 and based on the 1991 film, The Addams Family is the best-selling pinball machine in history, with more than 20,000 units sold.

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More Info: History.com

Discuss this Article

anon1000966
Post 1

I met a man in Alabama who told me he threw all his pinball machines and jukeboxes in a ravine and burned them. All I could think was how valuable they were, but he was afraid of getting arrested at the time.

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