READ: How an MP tried to stop Space Invaders in 1981

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Old people complaining about videogames has been a tradition dating back for as long as games have existed – but did you know in 1981 there was a discussion on games in the House of Commons, and one MP introduced a bill to attempt to regulate the menace that was Space Invaders?

spaceinvaders

Journalist Simon Parkin dug up this little gem this morning, from Hansard – Parliament’s record of everything said in the chambers.

Labour MP George Foulkes (who is now known as Baron Foulkes, and sits in the Lords) at the time was concerned with how games affect young people:

“That is what is happening to our young people. They play truant, miss meals, and give up other normal activity to play “space invaders”. They become crazed, with eyes glazed, oblivious to everything around them, as they play the machines. It is difficult to appreciate unless one has seen it for oneself. I suggest that right hon. and hon. Members who have not seen it should go incognito to an arcade or café in their own areas and see the effect that it is having on young people.”

He went on to give examples of how kids apparently stole money in order to play Space Invaders.

Perhaps unexpectedly, the person who then turned up to defend the game was right-wing Tory MP Michael Brown, who said:

“The measure proposed by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes) is outrageous and ridiculous. If I have glazed eyes, it is perhaps because I am the one hon. Member who is an avid player of “space invaders”. I make no apology for the fact that before I came to the House early this afternoon I had an innocent half pint of beer in a pub with a couple of friends, put lop in a machine, and played a game of “space invaders”. Many young people derive innocent and harmless pleasure from “space invaders”. The machines—in amusement arcades, in seaside resorts and even in pubs—provide genuine, harmless entertainment for young people.”

He later asked Mr Speaker “Can you enlighten the House on how it will be possible to deal in future with the sort of trivia that has just wasted 22 minutes of the time of the House?”.

Ouch.

You can read the full, remarkable, thing here.

James O’Malley