After the parents of a 12-year-old boy complained, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation decided to remove arcade games that utilize light guns from state-run rest stops.
Parents Andrew and Tracy Hyams spoke with The Boston Globe about their objection to the light-gun games:
“People have the freedom to have whatever video games in their own homes that they want,” Hyams said. “We were struck by walking into a [state-owned] rest stop within an hour’s drive of Newtown and seeing and hearing a life-sized, mounted machine gun on a video game.”
The couple felt that such games had no place in public rest stops, and the state Department of Transportation agreed. After receiving an e-mail from the Hyams, the Massachusetts agency removed nine violent games from service plazas in Charlton, Ludlow, Lee, and Beverly.
In defending the decision, Transportation Secretary Richard Davey cited much of the same inaccurate rhetoric that has dominated the discussion of video games in wake of the Newtown shootings:
“Bottom line is I think there isn’t a person who doesn’t believe that there isn’t too much violence in our society, and games can glorify that,” Davey said. “A video game in a public space could be used by anybody of any age.
“At the end of the day, those games are there to entertain kids, probably for a few minutes, while their parents are resting from a long trip. I just think it makes all the sense in the world to have it be a more passive” game.
The Globe spoke with visitors to a rest stop and found that visitors generally supported the move but several expressed doubt as to whether the move will actually stop gun violence:
Chris Gerdes, 32, a truck driver who lives in California, said removing the games may be well-intentioned, but he had doubts about the effectiveness of such a move. “I think it’s just a little over the top,” said Gerdes, who sometimes plays hunting video games at rest stops. “I do sympathize, with all the stuff that’s going on.”
…Of the arcade games removed, Time Crisis and Beach Head 2000 were the only ones mentioned by name. As the Hyams were offended by the plastic machine gun control mounted on the game they saw, it’s safe to assume the nine titles removed were of the light-gun variety, one of the last genres to have any substantial presence in the remaining American arcades.
The state can do this because the rest stops are on the Mass Pike and therefore operated under state contract; they’re there so travelers can gas up and eat without exiting the road, which would require them to pay a toll.