Old News '82: Video Games Threaten The Model Industry

Before video games were a threat to society at large, they were a threat to the hobby of model-making. We're not talking about the creation of attractive people who appear on magazines. No, this is the other kind of modeling.

You are reading Kotaku's once-weekly (sort of) journey back to yesteryear. This week I wanted to draw inspiration from the concern about Modern Warfare 2's setting to explore an earlier time when games got people worried.

I searched the archives and found this 1982 clip from the UPI wire service, headlined: "Modelers' lament: Video games divert young from enrichment of modeling; Despite teen decline, adult hobby flourishes"

What followed was a story quoting modeler "hobby industry spokesman Richard Bennett" citing the now-familiar concerns that playing video games was taking money from other forms of entertainment and was going to cause bad effects on kids' health.

Here's a good excerpt for some flavor and vintage 1982 details:

''All they do is concentrate on how to get the highest score,'' [Bennett] said. ''The big thing is to blow up an entire galaxy. You go to an arcade and it's almost a way of life.

''We don't know the long-term effects. If they can show me the value of kids dropping $5, $10 into a machine, then fine.''

As a result of the games' popularity, the plastic modeling industry is in the doldrums. About $216 million was spent for plastic kits last year in the United States. Only a slightly higher amount is expected this year, Bennett said.

However, Bennett, a spokesman for the Hobby Industry of America, said he was concerned that young people were playing the games at the expense of the educational benefits of modeling.

For example, he said model building can help problem students do better in school.

''Teachers couldn't get the kids to read because they had no motive to read,'' he said. ''But they got into modeling and had to read to follow the directions.''

All the astronauts developed their interest in flight by building model airplanes when they were kids, Bennett said.

The nation's most popular model kit is the General Lee car of the ''Dukes of Hazzard'' television series.

It went on, but I think you get the idea. I include today's entry not so that the gaming industry can gloat about crushing the plastic-model-making industry, but because I thought we'd all find it interesting how video games came under fire back in the old days — for something you may not have realized they even did.

For the record, I haven't made a plastic model of a boat or car since I was about seven.

PIC via Flickr