Southington Group Cancels Video Game Drop, But Says Effort Prompted Parental Discussions

The Hartford Courant

Copies of "Sniper 2: Ghost Warrior," "Black Ops 3" and similarly violent video games won't be piled into a garbage bin at the old Southington Drive-In on Saturday after all.

Organizers of the drive to get residents to trash their violent video games have canceled the event, but say the underlying idea was a hit.

As a response to the Newtown school massacre, the Southington SOS community coalition last week went on TV and sought news stories to spread a message: Saturday would be a good time for local families to get rid of overly violent video games.

The group invited people to gather at the old theater property to throw away violence-themed video games — or DVDs or CDs. In return, the local chamber of commerce would encourage some game-free family time by giving them vouchers for restaurant meals or admissions to local attractions.

Southington SOS insisted that it wasn't blaming video games as the cause of the Newtown shooting, and emphasized that it wasn't condemning all vioIent games. Instead, the group said it wanted to spark conversations between parents and their children about the potentially desensitizing effects of games where players kill or maim characters with guns and other weapons.

The concept was a hit with local families, who praised it to teachers and the YMCA, according to Charlie Cocuzza, board president of the chamber of commerce. Numerous video game enthusiasts from around the country and overseas reacted quite differently, though, sending complaints that the idea amounted to knee-jerk book burning.

Southington SOS said it's convinced that it achieved its goal already.

"We didn't cancel this because of pressure from anyone. The idea was never about burning games or protesting — there's been a lot of misinformation out there," Cocuzza said. "Instead of just hour after hour of video games, we wanted parents — who probably don't know much about the games — to talk with their children about them. And we're hearing that hundreds of families did."

Southington SOS and the chamber will still provide restaurant vouchers or discount admission tickets for bowling, skiing or Lake Compounce — but parents won't have to show up Saturday to get them. They won't even have to discard games.

"We're going to have a page on our website (, by Monday where parents can write us a note about their conversations. We'll send them the certificates. If the family decided not to throw away the game, that's OK," he said.

Southington SOS suggested that other communities look into ways to get parents and children talking about glorified violence in games, movies or song lyrics.

The CBS affiliate in Boston reported Thursday that the Massachusetts transportation department persuaded restaurants at rest stops along the Mass Pike to remove gun-based games from their arcades.

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