In the wake of tragedy, violence in games under scrutiny

The impact of violent video games on society is being reexamined in the wake of the Newtown shooting.

One group of gamers called for a one-day online cease-fire in virtual warfare, a sort of gamer moment of silence. Another young gamer, in Newtown, Conn., is asking children to join him in throwing away violent video games. The National Rifle Association partially blamed violent video games and other violent entertainment for the Sandy Hook massacre. And a Democratic Senator introduced legislation in Congress that would direct the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of violent video games and other content on children.

This wave of renewed interest comes just over a year after the United States Supreme Court confirmed video games' status as a protected medium under the First Amendment. In the majority decision, Justice Scalia dismissed any evidence of a connection between violent video games and aggression, writing: "These studies have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with good reason: They do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively."

The national tragedy at Sandy Hook is sure to ignite debates over many facets of today's culture, laws and society. Polygon will continue to cover how that conversation impacts video games and how both the people who make and play games struggle to come to grips with the shooting and its implications.

Newtown Recovery Project to hold forum on video game addiction

The Newtown Public Schools Recovery Project will hold a forum for parents on April 24 to discuss video game addiction, The Newtown Bee reports.

The forum will be lead by Mark Augustine, a licensed marriage and family therapist from Wellmore Behavioral Health, Rosa Baldino, who holds a Master of Social Work degree, and Leanne Fuccillo, a school counselor.

"The forum will provide information on the definition and criteria for video game addiction, the psychology of video game addiction, signs a child may need help, what makes them so addicting, negative consequences of gaming addiction...

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Sandy Hook report profiles shooter, finds no link between games and motive

The summary report was filed by Connecticut State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III, and details the events of Dec. 14, 2012, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and, using a military-style assault rifle, murdered children and teachers before turning the gun on himself. A more detailed report from the Connecticut State Police is due to be released at a later date.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Lanza's interest in video games became a focal point for media, politicians and investigators. According to reports at the time, Lanza owned a large collection of...

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Conn. Rep. wants to end the 'nefarious relationship' between game devs and firearm makers

Connecticut Speaker of the House J. Brendan Sharkey called upon members of the video game industry last week to end "the nefarious relationship between video game makers and gun makers."

Sharkey requested that video game developers end the "reckless practice" of "licensing, marketing" and entering into "financial arrangements" that allow them to include real-life firearms in video games in a letter dated Aug. 14, 2013 (PDF link). It was addressed to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, Valve head Gabe Newell, Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick and Electronic Software Association president...

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Sandy Hook Arcade Center closing its doors Aug. 31

The Sandy Hook Arcade Center, a pop-up arcade created by two dads in Newtown, Conn., in the wake of last year's elementary school shooting, will close its doors in August, according to a post on the group's Facebook page.

"It is with tremendous sadness that we are announcing the closing of the SHAC on Saturday, August 31," the post reads. "What an amazing experience it has been for us to meet you all. Thank you for playing the games, volunteering your time, making generous donations and having fun with us. Your smiles, laughter and gracious words meant the world to us."

"When we launched...

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Curing the country of gun violence requires research into video games too

And that's why video games needs to be part of the research that goes into curing this bullet-fueled epidemic. Video games have become so deeply ingrained in modern society, that ignoring their impact would be akin to ignoring the effects of movies, of music or of the daily news on society. And all of those forms of media play an important role in any complete, holistic approach to solving the problem of American gun violence.

In tackling this disease — which has injured or killed 105,000 people in 2010 alone — the CDC is setting out to identify the epidemiologic triangle of gun violence:...

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CDC closer to kicking off study into gun violence and gaming

Sources tell Polygon that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent are reviewing a new report and research questions created by the Institute of Medicine that calls for, among other things, a study focusing on firearm violence as a specific outcome of violence in the media, including music, social media and video games. If approved and funded, the new studies would take three to five years to conduct.

The research agenda, requested by the CDC, bolsters earlier reports that the Centers believe further research into any possible connection between video games, media and violence is both...

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Coalition calls for veto of NJ media violence 'disinformation bill'

The National Coalition Against Censorship, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and the Center for Democracy and Technology sent a letter to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today asking him to veto Senate Bill 2715, which would require the state's Department of Education "to prepare and distribute informational pamphlets on how parents can limit a child's exposure to media violence," which includes video games, according to the text of the bill.

The letter, which is cosigned by Joan Bertin, NCAC's executive director, and Chris Finan, American Booksellers Foundation for...

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New Jersey SAFE Task Force recommends regulating 'violent video games'

The New Jersey SAFE Task Force on Gun Protection, Addiction, Mental Health and Families, and Education Safety recommended regulating "violent video games" in a report dated April 10, 2013 (PDF link).

Governor Chris Christie convened the Task Force in January 2013, and the group's recent report includes 50 recommendations "that are both aspirational in their reach and practical in their implementation," according to the document's introduction.

The document is organized into chapters like "Keeping Guns Out of the Wrong Hands," "Urban Violence," "Mental Health" and "Violence in the Media."...

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Lawmakers renew calls for research into and regulation of violent video games

Politicians renewed calls for research into, and regulation of, violent video games this week after a New York Daily News report suggested that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza planned and executed the massacre with logic he learned from games, according to the Daily News.

The March 18 report was based on an anonymous law enforcement veteran who had heard a Connecticut State Police colonel speak about the police investigation into Lanza and the materials found at his home. According to the unnamed cop, the State Police believe Lanza was heavily influenced by video games in the way he planned...

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Sandy Hook shooter used 'score sheet' and video game logic, according to NY Daily News report

The Connecticut State Police believe Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza applied video game logic to the shooting, based on documents the State Police found at his home — including a massive "score sheet" containing meticulous research into past massacres, reports the New York Daily News.

Lanza listed approximately 500 names in the spreadsheet along with details of the incidents, including the numbers of victims and the weapons used, according to an unnamed law enforcement veteran that the Daily News spoke with. The career cop was in attendance when Danny Stebbins, a colonel from the State...

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Stern Pinball company partners with Sandy Hook Arcade Center for charity tournament

Pinball table manufacturer Stern Pinball, Inc. is partnering with the Sandy Hook Arcade Center to host a video game challenge tournament for charity, the company announced today.

The Sandy Hook Charity Challenge Tournament is open to children and teenagers and will be held at the Sandy Hook Arcade Center, a non-profit and free arcade, in Newtown. The tournament will be held this Saturday, March 16, with qualifying rounds beginning at 4 p.m. ET. The final round will begin at 6:30 p.m., and winners will be awarded prizes provided by Stern Pinball and driving games developer Raw Thrills.

P...

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Connecticut legislators hear opposing arguments in light gun game ban proposal

The Connecticut legislation to ban children under 18 from playing "point-and-shoot" video games in public has received contrasting testimonials, following its hearing at General Assembly's Children's Committee on Tuesday.

Connecticut state senator Toni Nathaniel Harp proposed committee bill 328 recently, which was published online last week. It reads: "To prevent minors from using violent point-and-shoot video games in public arcades and to create a task force to study the effects of violent video games on youth behavior."

The American Civil Liberties Union and a body of media trade...

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Sandy Hook arcade practices healing through gaming

They came. They played. They smiled.

Last weekend, a new arcade opened its doors in Newtown, Conn. conceived not to make money, but to spread joy.

The not-for-profit Sandy Hook Arcade Center is the brainchild of Newtown residents Andrew and Scott. The two, who asked that their last names not be used because of concern for their privacy, designed the arcade as a place for families to come together around fun experiences and to simply be happy.

"When you get back to some of the core values of who and what we are all about as people and families," Scott said, "and you start to bring...

Conn. lawmaker proposes bill preventing minors from playing light gun games publicly

Connecticut state senator Toni Nathaniel Harp recently proposed a bill "to prevent minors from using violent point-and-shoot video games in public arcades and to create a task force to study the effects of violent video games on youth behavior," according to the text of the committee bill 328 published online.

The bill would prevent minors from playing any games in which an "essential component" involves using a "facsimile of a firearm," a light gun which players hold like a real gun and shoot at the screen. Committee bill 328 puts the onus on each "owner or operator of any public...

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PBS NewsHour looks at violent video games, research on violent behavior

Today's broadcast of PBS NewsHour takes a look at the ongoing debate surrounding gun violence in the United States and what role violent media, specifically video games, might have in connection to violent behavior.

The segment is part of PBS's weeklong special "After Newtown," and features interviews with researchers, special interest groups, journalists and young video game players. PBS NewsHour focuses on recent violent games in its segment, including Grand Theft Auto 4, Hitman Absolution and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, what effect that violent content may have on agression and the...

Obama extols the benefits of gaming

A passion for video games could be a good way to attract children to computer programming, President Barack Obama said in a recent Google+ Fireside Hangout.

In a group interview, President Obama said that it "makes sense" to introduce computer programming requirements in schools because children are interested in the Internet and video games. Introducing them to programming early will also prepare them to be job-ready after high school, especially if they do not plan to seek an additional four-year degree.

"Part of what I'm trying to do here is make sure that we're working with high...

Detectives 'exploring' whether Sandy Hook shooter was emulating video games, shooting range during massacre

Detectives investigating the Sandy Hook massacre are "exploring whether Adam Lanza might have been emulating the shooting range or a video-game scenario," law enforcement officials tell the Hartford Courant.

The in-depth newspaper investigation into Adam Lanza also found that the 20-year-old owned a large quantity of violent video games and was raised from a young age with knowledge of firearm shooting.

The story, created in tandem with PBS Frontline, describes a child that struggled to deal with a sensory integration disorder and Asperger's syndrome and who had trouble fitting in....

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Sandy Hook Arcade Center opening to help heal Newtown

This weekend, two Newtown residents are opening the Sandy Hook Arcade Center, an all-ages arcade intended to help the town heal and promote family values.

It is named for the elementary school where 26 children and educators were killed last December in one of the worst mass shootings in history.

Co-founders Andrew Clure and Scott Cicciari, who have each called Newtown home for more than a decade, came up with the idea because they both love pinball. When they reached out to contacts in the arcade industry and the local community, "the response was tremendous," said Clure.

"For us this...

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Pastor of church affected by shooting blames video games for mass shooting violence

Brady Boyd, Colonel Senior Pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, which sustained two murders and two injuries by a gunman five years ago, says games and not guns are the problem.

He made the comments in a recent interview with The Christian Broadcasting Network about the Newtown shootings and Washington's debate on gun control.

"Gun control is not an issue that should be on the frontline of the churches. Violence is another topic," the Colo. Pastor Brady said in the interview. "We should be talking about violence — in fact, two Sundays ago, I stood in front of my congregation and...

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Violent video game sales coincide with drop in violent youth crimes, according to study

High sales of violent video games do not result in spikes in crime rates, instead correlating with a decrease in violent youth activity, according to research statistics shared in The New York Times.

According to the Times, between 1994 and 2010 the number of violent crimes among youth offenders fell by more than half, to 224 crimes per population of 100,000. At the same time, sales of video games have more than doubled since 1996.

In a working paper published online by a group of economists from three universities, weekly sales of violent video games were monitored across several...

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Nancy Pelosi disagrees that video games are the cause of violence

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi isn't sold on the idea of violent video games, movies and TV shows as the reason for violent behavior in America, according to a recent interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday.

Research into the effect of violent video games has become a hot topic, with bills making their way back into Congress. According to Vice President Joe Biden, no one should "be afraid of the facts" of doing research.

Wallace, however, doesn't think that more study is necessary. A video of the interview was posted by The Huffington Post.

"As part of your plan, you call for...

Conn. lawmaker proposes video game tax to educate families about the 'danger of violent video games'

Connecticut state representative Debralee Hovey recently proposed a sales tax on "mature" video games to "provide funds for education concerning the danger of violent video games," according to the text of the bill published online.

Proposed House bill 5735 draws an explicit link between violence and "mature" video games and would impose a 10 percent sales tax on each. Though the text of Hovey's bill does not define what constitutes a "mature" video game, it may refer to the Entertainment Software Rating Board's M-rated games. The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services would...

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National Coalition Against Censorship reacts to public library policy against video games

The National Coalition Against Censorship is rallying against a new policy enacted by a New Jersey public library that empowers staff to bar patrons from playing certain video games on library computers.

The policy was voted on and passed in January by Paterson Library board members. According to The Alternative Press, library staff members petitioned for the right to ban patrons from playing games. Quoted at the time of the article, library director Cindy Czesak said that staff had already adopted an unofficial policy of discouraging video game playing, and that "they asked the board to...

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CNN host blames video games for violence despite expert disagreeing

The gun violence debate remains a heated topic among government and press, and during a recent CNN broadcast, Out Front host Erin Burnett continued to push the idea of video games as the cause.

Burnett spoke with psychologist and author William Pollack, asking "point blank" if games were the cause of mass shootings.

"A lot of people out there now, they think this is accepted as a fact that all these violent games — and by the way they are horrifically violent — is why we are seeing this seemingly explosion in mass shootings," Burnett said. "True?"

"No, not true," Pollack replied. " ......

Video games fund gun manufacturers, according to report

Like candy cigarettes with name brand manufacturers on their boxes, models of real cars in racing games and athletic sponsorships in sports games, some gun manufacturers hope that the weapons that appear in shooters will entice players to purchase their products, according to a report in Eurogamer.

"It is hard to qualify to what extent rifle sales have increased as a result of being in games," said Ralph Vaughn, who negotiates deals with game developers for Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, whose M82 sniper rifle has appeared in Call of Duty games. "But video games expose our brand to a...

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Anti-censorship group blasts removal of games from Massachusetts rest stops

Saying there is no legitimate state interest that justifies the removal of arcade games from rest stops, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship this week wrote the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to voice her concern with its "constitutionally problematic" decision.

Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation pulled nine games which it deemed violent out of rest stops in four cities along the Massachusetts Turnpike. The move was prompted by complaints from a family who viewed the games, which included plastic guns as...

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Video games 'a bigger problem than guns,' says U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

U.S. Tenn. State Senator Lamar Alexander believes video games pose a greater threat than guns, according to a statement he made during The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd on MSNBC.

A video of the statement was posted by YouTube by Daily Kos, a weblog that covers current events and politics from a liberal perspective.

"I think video games is [sic] a bigger problem than guns, because video games affect people," Alexander. "The First Amendment limits what we can do about video games. The Second Amendment to the Constitution limits what we can do about guns."

Senator Alexander is currently...

Calif. State Senator apologizes for saying that gamers have 'no credibility' in the discussion on violent entertainment

Californian State Senator Leland Yee back-pedaled on comments he made to The San Francisco Chronicle last week when he said that gamers lack credibility in the discussion on violence in video games and need to be quiet.

In the original comments, Senator Yee said: "Gamers have got to just quiet down. [They] have no credibility in this argument. This is all about their lust for violence and the industry's lust for money. This is a billion-dollar industry. This is about their self-interest."

Senator Yee clarified these comments on Twitter soon after, saying that he didn't use the best words...

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National Amusements theater chain reassessing violent video games in lobbies

Massachusetts-based movie theater chain National Amusements plans to review violent video games found in its theater lobbies for possible removal, according to an article in Komo News.

"We are going to meet with our vendor who supplies the games, and we're going to review it on a case-by-case basis," said Steve Horton, National Amusements' vice president of operations.

The decision came after Richard Reitnauer complained about an arcade game that he saw in a Yonkers, N.Y. theater lobby shortly after the Dec. 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

"I was upset to the point of...

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Disney CEO Bob Iger examining violence in Disney video games

Disney CEO Bob Iger met with company executives last week to talk about violence in the company's video games and "take stock in everything we've got that can be considered near the line or over the line," according to a report published in Deadline.

Iger revealed the meeting during a Jan. 23 luncheon sponsored by the Hollywood Radio & Television Society. He spoke about violent content and what Disney might do in the wake of the Dec. 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.

"Fortunately at Disney there's very little [violence], but I still want to make sure we're asking ourselves the...

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Calif. state Senator says gamers have 'no credibility' and a 'lust for violence'

California state Sen. Leland Yee believes that gamers lust for violence, lack credibility and need to be quiet, according to an article published in the San Francisco Gate.

"Gamers have got to just quiet down," Yee said. "Gamers have no credibility in this argument. This is all about their lust for violence and the industry's lust for money. This is a billion-dollar industry. This is about their self-interest."

Yee is also pessimistic about President Obama's recent directive to have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study the link between video games, media images and...

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Senator links video games, assault rifles and Sandy Hook shootings

Speaking yesterday at a press conference in which a group of Democratic Senators and Representatives announced a proposed assault weapons ban, Connecticut Sen. Christopher Murphy drew a link between video games, "assault weapons" and Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooter.

"I think there's a question," Murphy said, "as to whether he would have driven in his mother's car in the first place if he didn't have access to a weapon that he saw in video games that gave him a false sense of courage about what he could do that day."

Sen. Murphy went on to say that, had the proposed...

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Bill calling for study of violent video games reintroduced to Congress

A bill originally introduced in Congress last year calling for a study into the effects of violent video games and other content on children, was re-introduced in Congress this week by West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

The original bill died when the 112th session ended on Jan. 2, but Rockefeller's office told Polygon that the senator planned on reintroducing it this year. He did so yesterday, where it was referred to committee, according to Congressional records. While the bill has four co-sponsors, GovTrack lists its chance of getting out of committee at 12 percent, and becoming law at...

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'We shouldn't be afraid of the facts,' says Vice President Biden on violent video game research

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged citizens, lawmakers and special interest groups to not "be afraid of the facts" when it comes to researching the effects of violent media.

In a "fireside hangout" on reducing gun violence in the United States conducted through Google Plus, Biden fielded a question from entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki about the pervasiveness of special interest group lobbying in Congress.

"How did it come to this point where special interests seems to control Congress," Kawasaki asked, "even to the point of what research can be done?"

"Part of the interest group population...

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Creators of violent video games are 'electronic child molesters,' says Ralph Nader

President Obama's package of proposals to combat gun violence doesn't go far enough in protecting children and families from creators of violent entertainment such as television and video games, Ralph Nader told Politico this past weekend.

Nader, a five-time presidential candidate who has run as an independent and a member of the Green Party, criticized Obama for what he views as broken promises and a lack of progress during the president's first term in office. He also called out Obama's anti-gun-violence package, which the president unveiled last week, because it doesn't put a sharp...

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Video games 'destigmatize' violence, says Connecticut governor

At the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy criticized the entertainment industry for "destigmatizing" violence and urged his peers to focus more on handling mental health issues, Connecticut Post reports.

Malloy, former Stamford mayor for 14 years, spoke in front of hundreds of U.S. mayors on Saturday, Jan. 19, regarding issues of gun control, mental health and media violence following the Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown.

"If we spent as much time and energy on destigmatizing mental health treatment as we do in the proliferation of these...

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Time Warner Cable banning select gun ads

Cable telecommunications company Time Warner Cable will no longer allow certain ads featuring weapons to run on their provided channels, Multichannel reports.

"We no longer accept ads showing semiautomatic weapons and guns pointed at people," Time Warner Cable said. "We stand by this policy. If it's essential to a business owner to show this kind of imagery in their commercials, there are other advertising options in the marketplace."

The statement does not specify whether Time Warner Cable's policy also applies to virtual weapons, which could affect video game ads. Time Warner Cable...

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New bill proposes video game rating labels, prohibiting 'adult-rated' game sales to minors

A new bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives proposes legislation that would require ratings labels on video games and would "prohibit the sales and rentals of adult-rated video games to minors."

House bill H.R. 287, sponsored by Democratic representative Jim Matheson of Utah, was introduced on Jan. 15. A summary of the bill is not available, according to congressional records online, but the proposal echoes legislation introduced multiple times by Democratic representative Joe Baca of California.

Baca's 2012 bill proposed warning labels stating that "exposure to violent...

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Sources: CDC believes link between media and violence still needs research

While President Barack Obama specifically mentioned video games when detailing plans for further study into the causes and prevention of gun violence today, the official Presidential Memorandum he signed doesn't.

But sources with knowledge of the Memorandum and the CDC tell Polygon that further research into any possible connection between video games, media and violence is both necessary and likely, but only if Congress agrees to fund it.

In a pre-briefing for press by senior White House officials and in the now-public plan, the Presidential Memorandum is described as a call for the CDC...

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Missouri House member sponsors bill for a 'violent video game' tax

Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Mo., is sponsoring a state bill that would levy a 1 percent sales tax on "violent video games" based on their ESRB ratings, according to the online publication of House Bill No. 157 (PDF link).

The act, which was presented to the Missouri House on Jan. 14, defines all video games with Teen, Mature and Adult Only ratings as violent and eligible for the tax. The revenue generated would be earmarked for "the treatment of mental health conditions associated with exposure to violent video games."

Section B of the proposal states "immediate action is necessary to protect...

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Obama calls for research into link between video games, 'media images' and violence

That Presidential Memorandum was among 23 gun violence reduction executive actions laid out this morning during a nationally televised address. Those actions, all of which are being initiated today, include proposing bans on "military-style" assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, increasing mental health services, making schools safer and improving background checks.

Addressing a packed room filled with the press, victims of previous shootings and children who have written to the White House about the shootings, President Obama acknowledged that the road ahead would be difficult.

"...

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Apple changes age rating for NRA's practice range game

Apple this week changed the age rating for the National Rifle Association's target-shooting game NRA: Practice Range. The free iPad and iPhone app, originally rated as appropriate for children 4 years and up, is now rated for children 12 and up, according to iTunes. The rating bump comes as some politicians decry the app, which was released one month after the Newtown shootings, as insensitive and inappropriate.

"It is the height of hypocrisy," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told CBS News. "If you remember the head of the NRA's speech on television, he blamed violent children's games for...

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Stephen Colbert recalls urban planning craze spawned by SimCity

On last night's episode of The Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert presented a succinct analysis of arguments that video games, particularly violent ones, affect the behavior of their players.

Colbert came out in a ghillie suit as if he had been hiding with his guns in a bunker, and showed clips of politicians and pundits citing violent video games as a factor in gun violence. He also ran footage of games such as Half-Life 2, with its crowbar-wielding protagonist, while satirically noting the potential for teens to learn from the games and use objects like crowbars and chainsaws as...

NRA: Practice Range educational game now available on iOS

NRA: Practice Range, a National Rifle Association-licensed educational game for mobile devices, launched yesterday on iOS.

Targeted to players aged 4 and up, NRA: Practice Range focuses primarily on safety, training and education regarding firearms, according to the game's description on the iTunes App Store. Interstitial screens offer instruction such as, "Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction."

The app includes a first-person shooter, advertised as having three "immersive shooting ranges," that allows players to fire virtual versions of real guns — a Colt pistol and MK11...

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Video games don't create violence in society, they reflect it

Last week the long-debated subject of violence in video games hit a crescendo of sorts. A topic often debated among game makers, game players, parents and politicians found itself at the center of a discussion in the White House about the broader topic of violence in America.

Is the video game industry, as the National Rifle Association recently claimed, a "callous, corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people?"

Of course not. The more reasonable question is: Are video games too violent?

Video games, like many forms of artistic expression, sometimes deal...

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Massachusetts town to launch rewards program for turning in violent media and toys

Mayor Robert Dolan of Melrose, Mass. is planning to launch a program that will reward children who turn in violent media with gift certificates and nights without homework, reports The Boston Globe.

Dolan was compelled to start the program, called "New Year New Direction," in the wake of the Newtown shootings, and hopes to have it running by Feb. 1. Under the program, Melrose residents who discard violent video games, movies, music and toys will receive a sheet of coupons including deals with local businesses and even special "get out of homework free" coupons, Dolan said.

"The child...

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Video game industry emerges from White House meetings unscathed

It appears that the video game industry will be relatively unimpacted by the three-day White House hunt for concrete proposals to address gun violence in America.

An hours-long meeting between video game industry executives and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House Friday afternoon was "cordial" and "reasonable," people in attendance at the meeting told Polygon. While Biden said he called the meeting in part to examine whether the U.S. was undergoing a "coarsening of our culture," that wasn't the main thrust of the behind-closed-doors meeting.

Instead, the meeting seemed centered...

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Activision, EA, Epic, Take-Two and others join industry association in Biden meeting (Update)

The heads of the Entertainment Software Association and gaming ratings board were joined by top executives from Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Take-Two, Epic Games and GameStop, among others, during today's meeting with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss violence in video games, Polygon has learned.

The Vice President was joined by Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in the meetings, according to White House officials. Among those attending for the video game industry were ESA president Michael Gallagher, ESRB head Patricia...

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Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation pulls violent games out of state-owned rest stops

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has pulled nine games which it deemed "violent" out of rest stops in four cities along the Massachusetts Turnpike, the Boston Globe reports.

Service plazas in Charlton, Ludlow, Lee, and Beverly, Mass. had the arcade titles removed following complaints from a family who worried that family members of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting could come across the titles (Newtown, Conn. is "within an hour's drive" of one of the stops in Charlton, Mass.). One of the game's in question featured a fully automatic light gun, which players...

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ECA urges Vice President to not blame games for violence, support public's right to access them

In a letter posted to the organization's website, Entertainment Consumers Association vice president Jennifer Mercurio urged U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to support the constitutional right of the public to purchase and access video games and to refrain from blaming media for the Sandy Hook shooting.

The ECA is a non-profit organization representing interactive entertainment consumers in the U.S. and Canada, and was formed to "give gamers a collective voice with which to communicate their concerns, address their issues and focus their advocacy efforts," according to Mercurio.

The...

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ESA president, scholars will be among those meeting with Biden about video games

Entertainment Software Association president Michael Gallagher will be joined by a cadre of researchers, game publishers and retail executives in Friday's meeting with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss violence in video games.

An ESA spokesman confirmed to Polygon that Gallagher will be the ESA's representative at the meeting, but declined to comment further.

Several sources involved in the meeting tell Polygon that others invited to attend include researchers on the topic of video games and their impact on children, executives from game publishers and a representative from the retail...

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SurveyUSA finds that 89 percent of parents nationwide believe violent games are a problem

A survey commissioned by the Common Sense Media and the Center for American Progress has found that 89 percent of parents in the U.S. believe that violence in today's video games is a problem, while 75 percent believe that violence in video games contributes to violent behavior.

The survey, which was conducted across 50 states in the U.S. on Jan. 4 through 5, 2013 with 1,050 parents who have children under the age of 18 living at home, aimed to identify what parents believe contributes to violence.

The survey found:

  • 93 percent of parents nationwide say lack of supervision for children...

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International Game Developers Association offers to help Biden on gun violence task force

The International Game Developers Association is offering to help Vice President Joe Biden in his examination of media violence in American culture, saying that while the group welcomes more "evidence-based research" they would not want to see the government's efforts "diverted toward non-causal sources and away from meaningful change to real dangers."

Video games, the association says, can help, not harm, in this national time of crisis.

"As creators, working in one of the most popular new forms of art and entertainment, we recognize that video game development not only allows us to...

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Bill calling for study of violent video games is dead, but will be reintroduced this month

A bill introduced in Congress last year calling for a study into the effects of violent video games and other content on children, died when the 112th session ended on January 2.

But the bill's author, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, plans to reintroduce that bill during this session, likely by the end of the month, a staffer at the senator's office tells Polygon.

Originally introduced on Dec. 17, three days after the second-deadliest school shooting in United States history, the bill calls for the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of violent video games and violent...

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Jon Stewart: It's time we talk about guns, not just video games and culture

Jon Stewart and The Daily Show returned from a hiatus this week to drop into the thick of the debate surrounding the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and what can be done to curb violence in America.

Stewart kicked off the show with a lengthy segment on the need for a national discussion on gun control, using the NRA's Wayne LaPierre and his comments about blaming the media and video games to push for a talk more centered on guns than media consumption.

Last month, LaPierre held a press briefing to call out the "callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows...

Connecticut town cancels plan to collect and destroy violent video games

The small Connecticut community that made international news last week when it announced plans to voluntarily collect and destroy violent video games, said today it won't be proceeding with that portion of its plan.

Community members of Southington, Conn., a small community about 30 miles from the site of the Newtown massacre, held a town hall press conference this morning to say that while they have canceled the planned return program, they are happy with the overall outcome of their efforts, a spokesman told Polygon.

"We succeeded in our program," said spokesman Dick Fortunato. "Our...

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Gov. Christie says guns, drugs, mental illness and video games need to be examined in wake of shooting

With a White House imposed deadline for recommendations on how to curb gun violence looming, the politics surrounding the Newtown shooting, gun control and the role of entertainment in American culture continues to heat up.

Yesterday, the White House confirmed that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his task force will be meeting with representatives from the entertainment and video game industries this week to discuss gun-related violence.

Today, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took to CBS This Morning to say that talking about gun control in the wake of the Newtown shooting isn't...

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to meet with video game industry reps to discuss gun violence

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his task force will be meeting with representatives from the entertainment and video game industries in the coming weeks to discuss gun-related violence, Reuters reports.

In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, Vice President Biden and his task force are examining legislation that would ban assault rifles while also looking into the role of violent movies and video games in the mass shootings.

The task force is slated to hold meetings this week with victims of gun violence, gun safety groups, hunting groups and gun owners. The task force will...

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Merchants association warns Vice President Biden that blaming violent media can distract from meaningful change

The Entertainment Merchants Association is asking Vice President Joe Biden not to kick off another examination of links between violent media and children without first considering what's already been done, as he works to address the problems of gun violence in America.

Following the deadly elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last month, President Barack Obama put Biden in charge of a new, inter-agency gun control task force. Obama set a January deadline for concrete proposals for ways to address gun violence.

In a letter sent to Biden this week, the EMA walked Biden...

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How to talk to your children about their gaming habits

Video games, like sports, music, television, movies, anything a child participates in routinely, are an important part of their lives. Talking with your children about those things is a great way to stay involved. It's one more avenue for meaningful discussions about morality, one more route for forming a connection with your children, a way around the walls that often form as a young child becomes a teen.

But experts say there is a certain risk in broaching the topic of your child's gaming habits now, as a grieving nation continues to struggle to find answers to the Newtown school...

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Leading media violence expert warns town that game burning could do more harm than good

One of the leading world experts on the impact of violent media on children is warning Southington, Connecticut officials that their drive to collect and destroy violent video games could do more harm than good.

"Don't get me wrong, I am fully aware you are trying to do what you think is best," wrote Christopher J. Ferguson, the chair of the Texas A&M International University's department of psychology and communication. "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...

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Connecticut town holds drive to collect and destroy violent video games

The Violent Video Games Return Program offers up gift certificates in exchange for violent games, music and movies turned in during an event later this month.

The collected items will then be broken and later incinerated by town employees.

The Jan. 12 event is being organized by the SouthingtonSOS, a collective of representatives of Southington, CT community organizations that includes the Chamber of Commerce, YMCA, board of education, fire department, town officials, United Way and local clergy. The group was formed in the aftermath of 2005's Hurricane Katrina as a way for the community...

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Investor site Motley Fool examines video game and gun company stocks in wake of shooting

Investors with stock in video game and gun companies may want to keep an eye on prices. According to financial site The Motley Fool, although there is no proven link between violent games and aggression, companies producing media with violent content might still see a price dip after the recent shooting and NRA denouncement.

According to Motley Fool's Rich Duprey, investors in Electronic Arts, Activision and Microsoft stocks will want to keep an eye on them. Stock for publisher TakeTwo Interactive, parent company to 2K Games and Rockstar Games, has gone down 10 percent in the past week,...

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EA removes links to weapon companies from Medal of Honor Warfighter website

A "virtual showroom" linking Medal of Honor Warfighter to real-life products from its gunmaker marketing partners illustrates how the firearms and video game industries have "quietly forged a mutually beneficial marketing relationship," according to The New York Times.

The subpage on the official website for Medal of Honor Warfighter displayed information for the McMillan Group and Magpul, two weapon manufacturers, and allowed viewers to peruse guns, knives and other combat gear depicted in Warfighter. Magpul and EA have even filmed promotional videos for the game featuring the weapons....

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ACLU warns against blaming video games for Newtown tragedy too quickly

In wake of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., Legislative Counsel Gabe Rottman of the American Civil Liberties Union warns that rushing to place the blame on violent video games leads to "the worst facts, and they will make the worst laws if we let them."

The American Civil Liberties Union, shortened as ACLU, is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization that aims to preserve individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Rottman's article, titled "Worst Facts Make Worst Law with Violent Video Games," urges readers to not move too quicky due to...

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Newtown boy starts 'Played Out,' asks kids to toss violent games

A 12-year-old boy from Newtown, Conn. is asking kids to join him in tossing out their violent video games in a movement called "Played Out," the Hartford Courant reports.

Max Goldstein, pictured above, announced his idea on Wednesday at the local public library. According to the Courant, Goldstein came up with the idea after attending a funeral for one of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting — Daniel Barden, 7, a friend's brother. While listening to prayers and songs, Goldestein realized "how real this was." He didn't want to kill in games again.

A bin will be placed outside the Newtown...

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California senator calls NRA's reaction to violent games 'pathetic and unacceptable'

In response to the National Rifle Association's rally against violent video games, California Senator Leland Yee has called their reaction "pathetic and completely unacceptable," via a statement issued yesterday.

According to Yee (pictured above), when a law against the sale of violent games to children went before the Supreme Court in 2011, the NRA did nothing to help.

"I find it mind-boggling that the NRA suddenly cares about the harmful effects of ultra-violent video games," Yee said. "When our law was before the Supreme Court — while several states, medical organizations and child...

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What is Kindergarten Killer, the NRA's showpiece for video game violence?

In a press conference earlier today, the National Rifle Association's executive vice president Wayne LaPierre blamed violent video games as a contributor to last week's Sandy Hook school shootings, citing Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat, Splatterhouse and a free flash game called Kindergarten Killer as examples of games with destructive influence.

Kindergarten Killer?

La Pierre said the media has been hiding the existence of web-based Kindergarten Killer, making it his showpiece for the "dirty little truth" that an activist media works to conceal a culture of violence so it...

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Online shooter cease-fire creator touts 'an ocean of peace'

The creator of today's Online Shooter Cease Fire, a gamers' pledge to pay respect to the victims of the Newtown massacre by taking a day off from playing shooters, said the event has received a significant groundswell of support and is making a statement.

"From mere drops in a bucket," said Antwand Pearman, CEO of health-focused gaming site GamerFitNation, "we've become an ocean of peace."

More than 3,400 people have indicated they're "attending" the Facebook event for the cease-fire, and an individual identifying himself as an acolyte of hacker group Anonymous posted a brief video...

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National Rifle Association exec blames video games for 'selling violence' to children

The National Rifle Association placed a portion of the blame for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on violent video games during a press briefing this morning.

"There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people," NRA head Wayne LaPierre said during the press conference. "Through vicious violent video games, with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here's one: It's called Kindergarten Killers. It's been online for 10 years. How come my research staff...

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West Virginia Sen. Rockefeller introduces bill for study of violent video games' effects (update)

Jay Rockefeller, a Democratic Senator from West Virginia, is introducing legislation in Congress that would direct the National Academy of Sciences to study the effects of "violent video games and other content" on children, his office announced today.

The bill comes less than one week after the shooting at a grade school in Sandy Hook, Conn., that left 20 children and six adults at the school dead, in addition to the alleged killer and his mother.

"At times like this, we need to take a comprehensive look at all the ways we can keep our kids safe," said Sen. Rockefeller, the chairman of...

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Gamers call for an online cease-fire in wake of Sandy Hook massacre

Consider it a moment of silence.

A group of gamers is asking players of the many nonstop virtual wars of online shooters like Call of Duty, Battlefield and Halo to put down their controllers for a day in a moment of gamer solidarity out of respect for the lives lost in Connecticut last week.

The 24-hour Online Cease Fire isn't meant to draw any links between the very real violence of Sandy Hook and the virtual violence of video games, but rather send a message of support from the gaming community, said event organizer Antwand Pearman, editor-in-chief of GamerFitNation.com.

"There's no...

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