In light of the Newton massacre, community leaders at nearby town Southington are now offering gift certificates to people that trade in violent videogames.
According to The Hartford Courant, volunteers of the Connecticut town's Southington SOS Committee will be accepting submissions for games deemed too violent. In return, the people submitting the game will receive gift certificates to a local restaurant, a nearby lake or a bowling alley.
Upon being collected, the violent videogames will be destroyed. This offer also extends to DVDs and CDs.
At the press conference that took place on Wednesday, the committee made sure to assert that they were not linking videogames directly to the Sandy Hook massacre, although they did feel that this was the time for parents to talk about the matter with their children.
Local YMCA leader John Myers claimed that it was fine if people did not think that videogames were an issue, although he also said, "but won't it be great around dinner tables this week when families have these conversations."
Director of community services Susan Saucier stated, "we're not saying the use of video games causes people to become murderers, but there's evidence that it causes increases in aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and desensitization about actions of violence."
The committee also stated that it was aware of the larger issues surrounding the shooting, such as mental health care and better gun control legislation, although they felt this would help curtail what their official statement referred to as "a culture of violence and a recreational culture of violence."
This comes shortly after a 12-year old in Newton initiated "Played Out," a movement for all children to discard their violent videogames.
There are certainly some debatable points here, such as the comment about evidence regarding videogames causing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and desensitization to violence.
According to the director of comparative studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Henry Jenkins, "claims like this are based on the work of researchers who represent one relatively narrow school of research, 'media effects.' This research includes some 300 studies of media violence. But most of those studies are inconclusive and many have been criticized on methodological grounds."
The connection between children and videogames also seems a bit misplaced, as Jenkins also highlights that majority of gamers are adults. Besides, games sold at major retailers always carry a parental advisory so the fact that kids own such violent products raises more questions about parenting than it does about the content of the product itself.
Perhaps the area to focus on would be the actual policies regarding gun control and mental health, seeing as how Japan and Australia, two polar opposites on what to do with videogames, don't even have a fraction of the gun issues we do. So, whatever they're doing right, videogames probably aren't involved.
Either way, the people in Southington live less than an hour away from Newton so it's understandable that they are taking some action. At the end of the day, even if the claims cannot be entirely backed by data, the committee's sentiment is entirely respectable.