Town ditches plan to collect, destroy violent games

Event organizer says goal already accomplished, no need to follow through with actual event

A Southington, Connecticut civic group has abandoned its plan to collect and destroy violent video games. A spokesman told Polygon the group has cancelled the event, which was originally set for Saturday, January 12.

"We succeeded in our program," said SouthingtonSOS spokesman Dick Fortunato. "Our mission was to create strong awareness in Southington for parents and families and citizens and children. And we accomplished that. Our other objective was to promote discussion of violent video games and media with children and with the families at the home. And we've accomplished that in spades."

Additionally, Fortunato explained that actually following through on the drive, in which the games would be traded in for gift certificates from local Chamber of Commerce members, "would create an unnecessary amount of logistical details for us." However, the group has said it will still distribute certificates to parents who discussed violent games with their children, though the specifics of that have not yet been worked out.

SouthingtonSOS was established after last month's school shooting in nearby Newtown to create "a greater proactive public awareness response" to such events. The group stressed it was not accusing violent games of being the cause of the Newtown shooting. However, it did release a statement saying, "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."

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Latest comments (8)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 5 years ago
Sounds like a tactical withdrawal to me.
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Justin Biddle Software Developer 5 years ago
Sounds like someone worked out how much it would cost them :D
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Bryan Robertson Gameplay Programmer, Ubisoft Toronto5 years ago
Getting parents to consider whether or not the video games they buy for their children is no bad thing in my opinion.

I think that whether or not you believe that violent video games cause violence, we can all agree that children shouldn't be playing games that aren't suitable for their age group.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 5 years ago
While I think this is a good move I don't think they neccesarily made this decision "just" because they got people talkiing.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
@Bryan: I used to work in an indie games store and it was VERY educational to see so many types of parents pop in to buy or ask about games.

We had the ultra-conservative types who wanted nothing to do with any games with violent content for their kids (they'd question us about every word on the ratings descriptor) and it was sometimes odd to see them return the most non-violent game because it made the kids fight over something like taking turns or who scored more points in a level.

We also had super liberal parents who would buy their kids almost anything they asked for, but even this had its limits. I recall warning a few parents about Conker's Bad Fur Day because their kids had conned them into thinking it was "like a Mario game" so they'd get the game as a gift. We even had the Playboy ad for the game posted in the shop to point out in case they thought we were joking. Still, some bought the game anyway and we had some pretty fun phone calls from parents saying "well, you were right" or walk-in returns (sometimes accompanied by a sheepish or smirking kid) for something more age appropriate.

I'd say Rockstar's games gave us the most fun and fits because titles such as the GTA series, State of Emergency and Manhunt were CLEARLY aimed at mature audiences/adults, but we saw SO many parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and other adults coming in to buy the games for their kids that we had to work up a 30-second means of finding out who was getting the game and whether or not the adult buying it knew about any content they might find offensive. Those were the parents who confused "games" with "toys" and hey, ALL toys are fun and harmless, correct?

That said, we did hear some hilarious stories: A mother bought GTA III for her 11-year old and as he always played games with his door closed, she never paid him any mind until one day she walks by his room and hears classical music playing. She was a piano teacher and trained in opera and her kid HATED classical music. She peeks in, sees her kid running down pedestrians before hopping out of the car to chase down and beat down someone with a baseball bat and yup, she was back at the store later that evening.

Another guy buys the game for his kid after giving one of the clerks a "you're questioning MY parenting skills?" look and lecture. He brings the game back the next morning when we open for a return because he's a cop and doesn't want his kid "playing a game where cops are disrespected like that" with an apology to the guy he was cranky to.

On the other hand, we also had those family units that really didn't give a hoot in hell about ratings because they never say any game as close to reality, influencing their kids or them either way. The came from every possible background, bought all sorts of horror, shooter, RPG or whatever games they liked and were the most fun because you saw and knew they were just excited about games and the gaming experience.

I know we had a Halo-playing family who were regular customers. They had a six and eight year old who loved playing split screen with the parents. My eyebrow went up when I first heard the dad tell his kid they were going to shoot up some aliens, but I recalled it was the same guy who got his kids to play a Resident Evil game so they wouldn't be scared of them (which worked from what I recall).

So it's a combination of some parents needing to follow the ratings system and others needing to just do what they do because it works well for them and them alone. Case by case, not blanket solution for all as some folks think will work.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 5 years ago
@Greg Wilcox

That is just a superb piece of writing. Everyone in the industry should read it to better understand our customers.
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Joćo Namorado Project Manager, Portugal Telecom5 years ago
@Greg Wilcox

Great writing, Greg, just as Bruce said. Thanks for sharing these stories. They are definitely worth quoting in future discussions.
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Andrew Clayton QA Weapons Tester, Electronic Arts5 years ago
I used to work at a tech camp for pre-teens and teenagers. We had to be very careful to make sure none of the pre-teens were playing M-rated games like UT3 or Modern Warfare. Some of the parents were okay with it, but there were always a few that were vehemently against violent games. We offered a class on creating First Person Shooters. The course was okay, but the kids enjoyed it. One week we had a parent bring her kids in and sign them up for the FPS course. However, she insisted that her child could not make a violent game and that none of the other kids in the class could create a violent game. Our management told us to do what she said, even though FPS Creator contained barely enough content to keep our kids entertained as it was. Somehow we made it through the week, but I don't envy the instructor that had to figure out how to keep the kids from including any weapons in their levels.

Even I had my limits though. I had a lot of fun talking about games like Modern Warfare, UT3, Halo, etc. with the teenagers, but when the pre-teens (some as young as 8) told me about how many hours they'd spent on Gears of War or Black Ops it irked me. I didn't really care that they were playing the games, but I cared that their parents had no idea what the kids were actually playing. So while I was unemployed I started a site dedicated to making game reviews to show parents, in as much detail as possible, what modern games are including. So far the site has done well (considering it's all word of mouth right now).

The hardest part is trying to convince some parents that letting their 10 year old play Duke Nukem Forever is not really a great idea. It still amazes me how many parents don't let their kids see PG-13 movies but have no problem letting them play any game they want.
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