It’s no accident that Orland Park residents voted on two advisory referenda on video gaming recently as Sears, one of the founding anchor stores in Orland Square Mall, was holding its liquidation sale before closing its doors. Village sales tax revenues were down about $1.2 million in 2017, a third of which could be recouped annually by video gaming revenues.
The controversy over video gaming is nothing new to residents of Orland Park, Palos Heights or Palos Park. In fact, I wrote an editorial a few years ago citing common objections to video gaming – addiction, regressive form of taxation hurting the poor and moral distaste.
Perhaps there is a deeper issue affecting both the concern about lost retail sales and the spark of renewed interest in video gaming. Perhaps we community members are becoming more addicted to “screens” (electronic devices), used both for video gaming and the online sales that are eroding the profits of the classic brick-and-mortar retail stores.
Don’t get me wrong, I love screens. In fact, I am writing this letter on my laptop computer, which was purchased online, as I listen for text-message pings from my smart phone and watch for alerts from my Facebook page. Last night, I played Scrabble with my wife on her tablet as we binge watched a TV series on Netflix and a documentary on YouTube. Later, I watched LinkedIn tutorials on writing for SEO, B2B marketing and brand messaging, all screen-focused strategies to promote corporate sales.
As we debate the issue of video gaming, let’s ask ourselves honestly the following questions. Is video gaming the problem or a symptom of a deeper problem? Is video gaming truly more addictive or potentially harmful than smart phones, smart computers and smart TVs – all screens that are sold in abundance in the Orland Park shopping district? Is gambling addiction truly more problematic than screen-based shopping?
It’s time for us to take a long look at the big screen here. The so-called “Amazon Effect,” which left profound gouges in the bedrock of retails sales, isn’t likely to ebb soon. The texting-social-media obsession shows no sign of abating – the art of conversation has been replaced with swiping, Skyping and typing. And the McDonald’s-influenced expectation of instant gratification that is so well served by screening technology is more super-sized than ever.
There are no simple solutions to the serious problems surrounding video gaming and its triggering factors. However, I would like to suggest a good old-fashioned approach to problem solving – illuminate, evaluate and innovate. Said another way, we as a community need to view each issue with an open mind, weigh option pros and cons objectively, and generate creative solutions to promote our community interests while keeping our core values intact.