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Connecticut town to collect and destroy violent games

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As Connecticut residents continue to try to come to grips with the horrific school shootings in Newtown, one nearby city is calling on citizens to round up and destroy their violent video games.

On Jan. 12, citizens of Southington, located about 30 miles to the northeast of Newtown, will have the opportunity to visit their city's drive-in theater and deposit violent games in a trash bin in return for a $25 gift certificate to a family-friendly local attraction.

Those games will be snapped into pieces and likely later incinerated, town officials told Polygon.

The Violent Video Games Return Program was organized by a group called the SouthingtonSOS, which includes members of the town’s Chamber of Commerce, board of education, fire department and clergy, among others. While the idea of games being collected and destroyed might raise memories of book burnings among some people, the group is quick to point out that the return program is not meant to be a construed as a statement blaming games for the school shooting.

That said, organizers are no fans of violent games either.

"The group's action is not intended to be construed as statement declaring that violent video games were the cause of the shocking violence in Newtown on 14th December," the group said in a statement.

"Rather, 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. Social and political commentators, as well as elected officials including the president, are attributing violent crime to many factors including inadequate gun control laws, a culture of violence and a recreational culture of violence."

Members of the video game community, not surprisingly, are criticizing the return program.

“This is an offensive and ignorant action," tweeted George Broussard, creator of the Duke Nukem game franchise.

Violent games have been under the microscope since the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school. Politicians have called for new studies to determine if there is a correlation between video game violence and real-world aggression. The National Rifle Association has pointed a finger of blame squarely at the industry, though industry trade groups have denied the accusations, pointing to years of research that maintains games are not tied to violent behavior.

Southington School superintendent Joe Erardi says that debate might have been the spark for the return program, but its real purpose is for the community to come together and for parents to have a conversation with children about the media they consume.

"It's not about the NRA endorsing, or video game production companies defending, it's a grassroots movement," says Erardi. "It's simple and we believe it's meaningful."

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