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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 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.

"So we deemed it became unnecessary to have the physical return on Saturday of violent games. Also because it would create an unnecessary amount of logistical details for us."

Last week, SouthingtonSOS, a collective of representatives of Southington community organizations that includes the local chamber of commerce, YMCA, board of education, fire department, town officials, United Way and local clergy, announced the Violent Video Games Return Program.

The idea for the program came about a month after the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that left 28 dead, 20 of them children.

The program asked parents to speak with their children about their gaming habits and if they decided that there were games that they weren't comfortable owning any more, to go to the local drive-in movie theater on Jan. 12 to turn them in. In exchange, each family was to receive a $25 gift voucher intended to be used for other forms of entertainment, like perhaps, a local water park. The gift certificates were to be donated by a member of the Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce as a "token of appreciation for their action of responsible citizenship," according to a press release.

Once turned in, those discs were to be snapped, tossed into a town dumpster and likely later incinerated, SOS officials told Polygon.

"The result has been a swift, positive and supportive response of parents, young people and the general population of our community."

The program came under fire from some experts, including the parenting editor at Common Sense Media, who likened the destruction of the games to censorship, and Christopher J. Ferguson, the chair of the Texas A&M International University's department of psychology and communication. Ferguson, who has written dozens of papers on numerous longitudinal studies on the topic of the impact of media consumption on children, wrote the organizers to warn them that their efforts might do more harm than good.

While the plan to collect and destroy video games isn't moving forward, SouthingtonSOS officials said the local Chamber of Commerce will still be providing gift certificates to families who had "the violent video games conversation with their children." More details on what that will entail are forthcoming, they said.

In a prepared statement, SouthingtonSOS officials said that they were very pleased with the results of their plan.

"Today," they wrote, "after just one week, we are pleased to announce that awareness has been raised significantly, thanks to the support of the media and widely disseminated e-mail communications within our community through our local SouthingtonSOS member organizations. The result has been a swift, positive and supportive response of parents, young people and the general population of our community.

"Our mission now continues as a work in progress in the hands of a very caring Southington community."