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When Charlottetown declared arcades off-limits for kids

It used to be that pool halls were considered "corrupters of youth." But in 1982 a new menace was threatening teenagers, at least in Charlottetown: the video arcade.

City passed bylaw aimed at keeping kids in school and out of video game establishments in 1982

The P.E.I. city passes a bylaw aimed at keeping kids out of video-game venues in 1982. 2:00

It used to be that pool halls were considered "corrupters of youth." But in 1982 a glowing new menace was threatening the young: the video arcade.

"The parents of teenagers in Charlottetown are sleeping easier these days," said Knowlton Nash, host of CBC's The National, on Feb. 9, 1982. "There, the city council has passed a bylaw to control video arcades."

Reporter Michael Vaughan visited one such arcade, where two girls could be seen absorbed in an Incredible Hulk pinball game.

Nearby, Pac-Man gobbled dots while other games bleeped as players shot at things that exploded on the screen.

'Sleazy hangouts'

Kids under the age of 14 who were unaccompanied by an adult were barred from Charlottetown arcades altogether. (The National/CBC Archives)

"In Charlottetown, aldermen have called arcades 'sleazy hangouts,' and have banned them from school kids during school hours," said Vaughan.

In fact, the bylaw said arcades were off-limits to anyone under age 14 at any time, unless they were with an adult.

"I don't think kids ... should be able to hang out in any establishment such as a pool room or an arcade," said Russell Stewart, a city alderman.

Vaughn ran into a trio, described as former regulars, who had just been booted out for being under 14.

13-year-olds want in

"At 13, you're a teenager, you should be allowed in to play," said a boy who was affected by the ban. (The National/CBC Archives)

"Should be allowed in, 13 and over," said one of the ousted teens. "Because [at] 13, you're a teenager. You should be allowed in to play." 

The ban posed a significant loss of revenue to one arcade operator.

"It's put the locks on my door because it just forces me out of business," said Gerard MacDonald.

Another operator said she was still in business and was resigned to the law.

"What can I do? I can't do anything about it," said Frances Mugridge.

"If they were causing any harm ... it would be different," said arcade operator Frances Mugridge of the kids who visited her establishment. "But they're not." (The National/CBC Archives)