A short time ago, a story hit the net that the New York town of Beacon closed an arcade/pinball museum down using an old law that banned such machines. As a follow-up to that story, the mayor of Beacon explains why it came about but I have some problems with their answer for a couple of reasons.
First off, here’s the source explaining that there will be a public hearing on the issue on Monday the 30th. In that story, Mayor Steve Gold is quoted as saying that the reason the arcade was shut down was due to noise complaints against the Retro Arcade Museum. The story also states: “The city’s current zoning does not allow amusement centers on Main Street.”
Here’s my problem with this, which I will comment on as it’s not an issue that applies just to Beacon but it’s something that seems pervasive in other parts of the world too.First problem: If there were noise complaints then why not address that issue with the operator directly as opposed to outright closing them down? It is so hard to pick up a phone or make a visit in person and discuss an issue with someone these days or are some people so dumbed down by technology that talking with a real human being is a nightmare? All games have this magical device on them known as volume controls and that can be adjusted if it’s a problem. If they tried that and got no results then one can understand the issue but I also find it hard to believe that store with an enclosed front is a noise nuisance outside on Main Street. Perhaps it is to the neighbors that share a wall with the arcade but again, they should stop being cowards and go talk with the arcade directly if they have a problem. I know all too well about the noise excuse – my arcade’s current location is where it is because the mall thinks we would be too noisy. They never define what too noisy means and they never actually walked into my store to find out for themselves(as I actually keep the attract modes off on a lot of games as they get too annoying and I like my hearing so I keep things low usually), they just consider all arcades to be really noisy and banished us to where we are now, a small location with low foot traffic compared to the rest of the mall.
Second, if the cities zoning laws prohibit an arcade to be in operation on Main Street then how did the Museum open in the first place? Naturally I disagree with the law being there in the first place but since it’s there the question needs to be asked. I’m pretty sure you need a business license from the city, who sends someone out to inspect the location and ensure that everything is up to code for that zone before they issue that license. If the law is clear that no arcades are to be allowed in an area but the city doesn’t tell that to an entrepreneur and let’s them open in that zone and operate there for a year and a half, then the city is at fault and should compensate the operator for their own incompetence.
If this whole thing wasn’t silly enough, here’s the new law being considered: “If approved, the new law will allow by special permit amusement centers that contain only vintage arcade devices built prior to 1980.” I really hope that someone intelligent attends this public hearing to set the record straight and use some logic with these council members. Why 1980 and before? Is there something inherently evil about games made after 1981? Is there a good, logical reason to ban all games no matter what their content for the public to play? Is there any direct evidence that allowing an arcade with recent machines will deprave a community of it’s integrity? I don’t know of any. If noise really is the issue here then this also doesn’t make any better sense. Everything made since then has had volume controls. The only type of game that I could see being an issue would be old EM pinball machines. They can be noisy because they used little xylophone devices in them. Even then I’m sure that the noise could be dampened if it’s a problem. Or let the operator add sound-proofing to his walls to keep the noise from the outside.
Hopefully something good comes out of this public hearing – even though I live far away from Beacon I just hate to see this irrational fear of arcades (Arcadieophobia perhaps?) prevail in some cities as though arcades are an infectious disease that will harm fragile minds and destroy all that is good in the world.