Connecticut town scraps plan to destroy games

Connecticut town scraps plan to destroy games
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

January 10th 2013 at 7:59AM

SouthingtonSOS claims victory following media frenzy

Southington Connecticut has canned a plan to collect and destroy violent games.

The initiative was formed in response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in nearby Newtown.

"Our mission was to create strong awareness in Southington for parents and families and citizens and children, and we accomplished that," spokesman Dick Fortunato told Polygon.

"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.

Fortunato explained that this success made the logistical nightmare of actually implementing the plan unnecessary.

The program was sponsored by SouthingtonSOS, a collective of local community leaders, and ignited a media firestorm over the relationship between violent media and violent actions.

One expert on the subject, Texas A&M International University's department of psychology and communication chair Christopher J. Ferguson, wrote a letter to the community warning them that their actions might be counterproductive.

"Don't get me wrong, I am fully aware you are trying to do what you think is best," wrote Ferguson.

"But there is real risk in focusing people's attention on the wrong thing, as well as contributing to historical patterns of 'moral panic' that tend to surround new media (often despite evidence media is not harmful, even if it may be offensive)."

While the group has said it did not intend to imply video games were the cause of the Sandy Hook shootings, it claimed there was ample evidence that violent media "has contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying".

This, claims Ferguson, is untrue.

"I've done a number of peer-reviewed articles myself on the topic, and have found no evidence linking video game violence to bullying or any other forms of youth aggression or violence," he told the group.

"Past research has been mixed, at best, and often weakened by substantial methodological flaws. I'll attach a couple recent articles to a separate email in case of spam filters (and could send many more if you wish). And during the video game epoch, youth violence and bullying declined, not rose."

It is unclear if Ferguson's letter had any effect on the group's decision to abandon its plan.