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Conn. town collects violent games from parents

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Children playing violent video games has re-emerged as a national topic of scrutiny since the Newtown, Conn. shooting which left 28 dead. Now, the nearby town of Southington says it hopes to encourage conversation between parents and kids by offering an exchange program to collect and destroy the games on January 12, Polygon reports.

The Violent Video Games Return program offers a $25 voucher to parents who turns in games they decide are inappropriate for their kids, as well as music and movies (maybe they just wanted the title to have some alliteration). The voucher can be redeemed for other forms of entertainment from members of the Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce, such as tickets to a local water park.

"We're suggesting that for parents who have a child or children who play violent video games, to first of all view the games," Southington School superintendent Joe Erardi told Polygon. "We're asking parents to better understand what their child is doing. Have a conversation about next steps. If parents are comfortable [with their child's gaming habits], we're comfortable."

The organization running the collection, SouthingtonSOS, was careful to note that it isn't specifically linking games to the massacre, nor to any other violent actions. Instead, it said games are part of an overall media climate which parents should be more concerned about--the National Rifle Association had significantly harsher words.

"SouthingtonSOS is saying is that there is ample evidence that violent video games, along with violent media of all kinds, including TV and Movies portraying story after story showing a continuous stream of violence and killing, has contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying," reads a statement from the organization.

Returned games and other media will be snapped, placed in a town dumpster, and likely incinerated, Erardi said.

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74 comments

  • Person5 - January 8, 2013 12:10 a.m.

    This sounds A LOT like they plan on having a good ol' fashioned book burning. Destroying works of art and creativity that they find offensive, only difference now being its not paper but discs. *Sigh* the more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • ObliqueZombie - January 7, 2013 6:17 p.m.

    "SouthingtonSOS is saying is that there is ample evidence that violent video games, along with violent media of all kinds, including TV and Movies portraying story after story showing a continuous stream of violence and killing, has contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying," Oh, except that there's "ample evidence" proving otherwise. Just don't be a dumbass parent and let your CHILD play M-rated games. Hell, even take cation with T-rate ones.
  • sxh967 - January 7, 2013 11:18 a.m.

    Killing your mother and then going into a school and killing dozens of children, as well as teaching staff, cannot be considered "normal" behaviour in anyone's book. Without even having to look at academic literature, it is plain to see that the vast majority of people do not feel the urge to go on a killing rampage, no matter how bad they may perceive their situation to be. Even if they do feel the urge, the vast (VAST) majority of people do not follow through with it. There are studies suggesting that violence in video games does increase the aggressive behaviour in children, but those studies also neglect a wide variety of other variables (history of domestic violence, child abuse etc. in the family, the occupation of the parent(s), the criminal records of other family members). "Playing Highly Competitive Video Games May Lead to Aggessive Behavior" http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2011/08/video-games.aspx I know this will be called out as cherry picking, but I want to show people there are also studies (from organisations that have implicitly blamed video games in the past) showing that competitiveness in video games (rather than violence) causes aggression in users. It's not just video game hobbyists against the professional researchers, as many would like the masses to believe. What I'm getting at is that there are a million possible reasons to explain why a tiny percentage of people go out and kill others in mad rampages like we've seen recently. It may be very easy to single out video games as something that may encourage people to recreate what they see, but this kind of sensationalism needs to stop.
  • sxh967 - January 7, 2013 11:21 a.m.

    If competitiveness is more to blame than violence... why don't we start pointing the finger at sports like football, baseball and golf? What? They're all competitive... Oh.. what's that you say? They're only sports and are for fun? Why didn't you say so! Gosh!
  • lancevance821 - January 7, 2013 4:40 a.m.

    Reminds me of all the book burning of the Nazi's. "If you don't like something don't sell it or throw it away. Join us all out here in the open and destroy it or burn it." Great message to teach your kids. If they don't like something.... destroy it. lol pathetic
  • CUFCfan616 - January 6, 2013 12:57 p.m.

    Most readers are just assuming that all the games in the town are going to be rounded up and destroyed. The parents get to take a look at what they actually buy for their kids and they might pay more attention to the age restrictions in the future. There's a reason games like CoD have age limits and aren't meant to be played by 12 year olds, but we all know they get these games bought by mum and dad without them realising the content. Anything that raises awareness amongst the parents is a good thing imo
  • Whit - January 6, 2013 6:08 a.m.

    Am I the only one that thinks this is a great deal? Halo 1 and the original Call of Duty are worth less than $5 when sold to GameStop used--and these guys will give me $25? Plus I am betting you can turn in the game box with an old CD inside.. Time to turn in those really old games and pickup Halo 4, Black Op2 II, AC III, and hopefully have money left over for GT5.
  • Godzillarex - January 6, 2013 11:44 a.m.

    Damn. When you put it that way it is a pretty good deal.
  • TheMaxassin - January 7, 2013 7:24 a.m.

    Yeah, it's going to be great when the parents trade in $60 games by the bucket load with $20 worth of now unusable DLC lost to get a $25 voucher. That only works with really old games that aren't played any more. New games that might get traded in by parents will be a big loss in cash to the parents and a loss to the players.
  • Divine Paladin - January 5, 2013 10:54 p.m.

    I'm just gonna point out that video game sales quadrupled over the past decade or so, and juvenile violence dropped somewhere around 30% in that same time span. Just sayin'.
  • Bruingirl24 - January 6, 2013 10:57 a.m.

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc/correlation does not imply causation. There are about 40 other dependent variables you are ignoring with this statement. Just sayin'
  • Divine Paladin - January 12, 2013 10:27 a.m.

    I have studies to verify just that one particular out-of-context stat, ones that did take into account these different variables that I couldn't bring up in the fifteen or so seconds I had to comment before having to return to my regular life. Besides, I don't see you arguing the same towards any of the other thousand or so websites arguing the exact opposite using similar types of data to support their cause, so what's the point in you doing it here? Unless you're actually in favor of this joke of a witch hunt against games (I'd doubt you are, since you're on a gaming site, and I'm guessing you're just trying to be a devil's advocate of sorts by making a point that only you care about). Bottom line, there is bona fide proof that gaming in no way causes these types of shootings for the masses, and any time gaming DOES have something to do with violence it is usually not the direct cause of it, but rather something else is (like the case of that one kid that killed his father for taking away his CoD - the kid had severe anger issues that were actually lessened greatly through the playing of violent games).
  • ~LanceR. - January 5, 2013 10:36 p.m.

    Lol, people always tring to find reasons for violence. The blame game is always fun
  • Bruingirl24 - January 5, 2013 12:59 p.m.

    Reading through some of these comments has made me wince more than my daily quota. I believe this forum is populated in a large majority by young adults who are fully able to appraise an argument, identify potential flaws, and most importantly acknowledge evidence even if it might go against their own personal beliefs. This is a basic skill all adults possess – it’s what sets us apart from non-sentient beings, the ability to make decisions based on the evidence and data available to us. Given this fact, it still surprises me when gamers resort to puerile/sarcastic arguments to defend their hobby – “another attempt to attack freedom of expression”, “yeah, because before video games there was no murder, premarital sex, violence”, “I’m surprised they would destroy this media instead of sending it to an enemy town in order to destroy them with its deadly power”. Where are the objectiveness and the adult taking of responsibility in these arguments? I am not against video games. On the contrary, my boyfriend of three years is what you would call a hardcore gamer (an avid contributor to these forums, I might add) and I personally bought my small 7, 8, and 12 year old siblings a Wii. So, yes, all is well with my righteous sense regarding “freedom of expressions” and my support to the rights of individuals to choose to play whatever the hell they want. So where am I going with this? Responsibility. Accountability. Flexibility. Are these traits you possess when you argue so passionately and heatedly about how violent media (including video games) is not responsible for increased aggressive behavior in people, especially kids? Have you done research (I should specify – legitimate, scientific, ACADEMIC research as opposed to a quick search on Wikipedia/google/the ever omniscient Gamesradar experts) about the effects of violence on the human psyche? Do B.J. Bushman, L.R. Huesmann, J.J. Lindsay, R. L. Marsh, M.L. Bink, L. Berkowits, L.V. Hedges, N.M. Malamuth (among so many others) ring a bell? In case they do not, they’re all seasoned psychologists/psychiatrists from well-known schools such as Harvard, Columbia, Brown, UCLA etc. who have done research on violent media and its effect on human behavior (both kids and adults). Guess what? They do not make recommendations on whether we should let kids play violent videogames. That’s not their job. What they have done is scientifically study the relationship between exposures to different levels of violence (using movies/TV shows/video games depending on the controlled experiment) and five dependent measures: aggressive behavior, prosocial behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, and physiological arousal. Five decades of research into the effects of exposure to violent television, movies, and video games have produced a thoroughly documented and highly sophisticated set of research findings. It is known that even brief exposure to violent media causes significant increases in aggression, that repeated exposure of children to media violence increases aggressiveness as young adults, and that media violence is a significant risk factor in youth violence (I have over 70 different articles on this, let me know if you want a comprehensive list). Is this a direct attack on gamers? Should you immediately go out and throw that awesomely, cool new PS3 to the recycling bin? Are these evil scientists trying to take away your precious freedom of expression? Please. Many of these egghead scientists can probably afford a better console and media set-up than many of us and actually do have it gracing their media centers. Ever heard of C. Binnewies, S. Sonnentag, and E. Mojza? Take a peek at their study titled “Recovery during the weekend and fluctuations in weekly job performance: A week-level study examination intra-individual relationships” published in the Journal of Organizational and Occupational Psychology, 83 (2), 419-441. They found that people use “resources” (whether physical strength, attention, patience, emotional control) in their daily lives (personal and professional) and that people need “recovery experiences” that lead to renewed resources. Want to guess what these recovery experiences must have? They must provide psychological detachment, relaxation, and mastery experiences. Sound familiar? Leonard Reinecke certainly thought of video games when he read this paper. Well, I should say DOCTOR Leonard Reinecke. He published a study titled “Games and Recovery: The Use of Video and Computer Games to Recuperate from Stress and Strain” on the scientifically sound Journal of Media Psychology, 21(3), 126-142. He found that all adults turn to hobbies in order to meet these needs. He also found that gamers routinely turned to games in response to stress, and that playing video games was often experienced as acts of psychological detachment, relaxation and skill mastery. Okay, so what now? Both of these assessments are scientific and valid as opposed to raw personal opinions and suppositions. Video games increase aggression (case in point: the violence found in video games stimulates your anterior hypothalamus which is a major integrator of neural processes that triggers both aggression AND pleasure/excitement/arousal), but may also play a part as “recovery experiences” to help an adult, fully developed brain unwind. On the downside, if someone starts to experience video game violence at too young an age or for excessive periods of time, there is a higher likelihood this person will develop aggressive, antisocial, and volatile physiological arousal. It is also more likely this person will become desensitized to violence and require a more intense stimulus in order to reach the level of desired arousal/excitement. Again, this is fact, not an attack and definitely not fiction. Did violence exist before video games? Yes. Should video gaming be banned because it increases the aggression potential of individuals? No. If a person believes violent games leads to increased aggression, let that person find another activity to provide them with an efficient “recovery experience”. Should gamers be aware of the true, scientific findings regarding the relationship between violent media and increased aggression? DEFINITELY YES. Again, informed adults are free to make decisions and choices, but they do so responsibly. This knowledge makes us accountable. As an adult gamer, please do not irresponsibly tell younger people that there is absolutely nothing wrong with violent video games – that there is no correlation between gaming and violence. This is a gross negligence and disservice done for very selfish reasons to protect a right that can easily be supported using evidence other than painting it as something completely innocent. Game responsibly, yea? Lastly, to address this article…our nation is grieving. We had a very misguided, mentally ill young adult murder little kids. Many important debates are being held right now about how to prevent future acts of violence – be it about gun control or violence in the media. It’s fine if we don’t agree about what this specific organization is doing about it. But can you attack a parent who has a serious talk with his child about the relationship between gaming and violence? Who chooses to raise that kid without violent games in the house? It’s that adult’s choice just as it is yours to have them in your house. I find the idea behind this project noble. It’s asking parents to really get to know what their kids play, to take responsibility over it. If the execution is misguided, then comments on that would be edifying…but not many of the comments I read here are. On a closing note, love, if you read this (which I am sure you will), please be careful about what you write? Accountability. Responsibility.
  • BladedFalcon - January 5, 2013 2:38 p.m.

    “I’m surprised they would destroy this media instead of sending it to an enemy town in order to destroy them with its deadly power” What? no one made such a post! *coughs* Okay, so I do admit to have reacted abrasively immediately after I read this piece of news. And more so, being insensitive to the fact that this has been a reaction of a very real, and very recent tragedy. And regardless of points of view, acting like a jackass helps nobody. Also... wow, I do have to commend you for being very well prepared and for doing some real research about the subject matter. That's something VERY rare to be seen in forums like these... And for a reason, I'm honestly not gonna try to challenge or read those articles >>; However, the point that you bring up, articles or no, is certainly valid, and I do not argue that violent media can have a negative effect in still-developing minds. Heck, If I had children, (or when I eventually have them, hopefully XD) I know I wouldn't let them play a lot of the games I have. But that's the thing, and that's what pissed me off about this reactions, and a LOT of the reactions that have occurred regarding this situation recently. "I" Would, and SHOULD take responsibility of my own kids, what they see and what they do. And i believe that's what most families in general SHOULD do. But instead, what we see in the news is a ton of cases of people doing the OPPOSITE, not taking accounts of their own actions, and looking for scapegoats instead of admitting their own faults. And idiotic speeches such as what the speaker for the NRA did recently have caused me to grow weary of such accusations, even if some part of it might have a valid point. I am going off a tangent though, what I was trying to say is that. YES, parents definitely should be more aware in what things their kids do and play, I think we both agree there, and yes, in a way, what they are doing in this town at least makes an attempt to raise such an awareness. What I do NOT agree though, is on taking away that media, and destroying it outright, I still hold that that is just a waste of effort, time and money. Because such action only serves to demonize the object that's being destroyed, and make it seem as if was things that SHOULD be destroyed or get rid off, as opposed to simply be managed more carefully. Overall though, you are right in that even we, as commentators, should be more careful of what we write and say, because this being the Internet, it's easy to not take things seriously and write irresponsibly. But we also set a bad example and image. And certainly, if any news media bothered to check and broadcasts the comments and reactions written in here. They would probably write them all off (including my previous, original post) as childish, immature rants of people that get immediately over-defensive of their hobby. Because that is very one-sided reaction and stand to take, which, when one thinks of it, is sad since such reactions are in response of other one-sided, hyperbolic reactions. And that only serves to escalate things, not solve them.
  • Rub3z - January 5, 2013 7:01 p.m.

    Achievement Unlocked: 100% Agreement Rating
  • TheMaxassin - January 7, 2013 7:32 a.m.

    I also agree that the choice for the games played should be chosen by the parents, but many parents listen to the media and believe the media whole heartedly, and most are choosing to cling on to video games, bad music, etc. as scapegoats. Responsible, relatively mature children will see that video games or TV are different from real life. The people who commit the acts of violence are usually the minority, who either have had a bad upbringing, were uneducated by the parents in the distinction between video games and reality, or those who just have problems or were bad eggs. I believe video games are important for children to play and for the parents to use as educational tools to help teach the difference between video games and reality. Obviously no 5 year old should play CoD or Halo or Far Cry or other M rated first person shooters, but at the age of ten or twelve they should be taught that violence is not something to be initiated.
  • sergey-piatkovski - January 5, 2013 10:46 a.m.

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/easy-trade-revolution!/id561100481?l=ru&ls=1&mt=8 my first app and its free
  • mentalityljs - January 4, 2013 4:49 p.m.

    I'm actually somewhat impressed with the SouthingtonSOS admin for suggesting the parents take responsibility, rather than the event be mandated by city/state officials. However, I also believe they are responding to the incident in a desperate attempt to censor something they don't fully understand. There's no doubt in my mind the entire community is still grieving, and sympathies to them, but making rash decisions, jumping to conclusions, and scape goating the shit out of media for violence are issues within themselves that have already had so much publicity that I can't help but be appalled that people still continue to blame it(media) for violence. Why does retributon need to go beyond the death of those responsible? Why can't their silence be enough?
  • oryanbelt - January 4, 2013 2:42 p.m.

    Is it just me or does the incinerating part seem unnecessary?

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