Video Gaming Spins Controversy

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March, 2018

In March, 2018, Orland Park residents voted on two advisory referenda on video gaming. This occurred as Sears, one of the founding anchor stores in Orland Square Mall, held its liquidation sale before closing its doors. Village sales tax revenues were down about $1.2 million in 2017. Supporters of video gaming claim that  a third of this loss could be recouped annually by video gaming revenues.

The controversy over video gaming remains with the 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. In addition to the potential for addiction, video gaming potentially hurts the under privileged as a regressive form of taxation.

Screens; the common factor

Perhaps a deeper issue underlies both the concern about lost retail sales and the renewed interest in local gambling. Both video gaming and online sales that are destroying classic brick-and-mortar retail stores rely on computer technology. Is it possible that we community members are becoming more addicted to “screens” (electronic devices)? 

Don’t get me wrong, I love screens. In fact, I compose this letter on my laptop computer, which I purchased online.  In the background, 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 SEO and social-media marketing, both 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? 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, will not ebb soon. The texting-social-media obsession shows no sign of abating – swiping, Skyping and typing replaced the art of conversation. And the McDonald’s-influenced expectation of instant gratification looms more super-sized than ever.

Addressing Video Gaming

No simple solutions to the serious problems surrounding video gaming exist. However, I would like to suggest a good old-fashioned approach to problem solving – illuminate, evaluate and innovate. First, we as a community need to view each issue with an open mind. Second, we must weigh option pros and cons objectively. Finally, we need to generate creative solutions to promote our community interests while keeping our core values intact.