A town in Connecticut is offering a $25 gift card for those citizens willing to turn in their violent video games for destruction, as part of the response to the tragic shooting in nearby Newtown in December.
Southington, CT will be rounding up these games, along with violent movies and other media, as part of the Violent Video Game Return Program. Due to take place on Jan. 12, it is not the hope of the organizing group, SouthingtonSOS, that the drive will lead to further censorship. Instead, according to Southington Schools superintendent Joe Erardi the goal is to encourage a conversation between parents and children on their gaming habits:
“If this encourages one courageous conversation with a parent and their child, then it’s a success. We’re suggesting that for parents who have a child or children who play violent video games, to first of all view the games. 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 initiative, which includes the Chamber of Commerce, YMCA, board of education, fire department, town officials, United Way and local clergy, is similar to one started by a twelve year-old in Newtown who has called for his peers to give up violent games. In Southington, the video games collected will be destroyed and those handing them in will receive a gift card to a local entertainment establishment, most likely a water park.
SouthingtonSOS was quick to point out that they are not acting at the behest of the National Rifle Association in taking action. In the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, the NRA lashed out at various other targets for causing the massacre, intending to draw the blame away from firearms. In spite of the danger the NRA says that violent movies and games pose, the group still curates an exhibit displaying firearms used in motion pictures at their National Firearms Museum.
Likewise, while the drives in Southington and Newtown are voluntary, the NRA and others have pressed for investigating the potential for a ban on video games with heavy violence. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-NV) and former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) have both called for studying the impact that violent media has on causing violence in the real world. Researchers have found no correlation between playing video games and an upsurge in violent behavior.