Posted January 3, 2013 by Amy in Features

Burn Baby Burn: Violent Games To Be Put To the Match In Connecticut


Save those literary classics for next month, this burnin’s for video games.

Unless you’ve been living in a box lately, you heard about recent, tragic act of violence in Newtown, Connecticut. Many innocent people, mainly children, lost their lives to an obviously disturbed individual who unfortunately had easy access to weapons.Because of this undeniably horrible tragedy, one town in Connecticut has decided to collect violent video games and burn them. Wait….what?

Oh, man. It is just way too easy to say video games are the problem, isn’t it? Even the NRA, in their statement about the whole problem stated that violent video games, not access to weapons, or not enough access to care, were to blame for the crime. Oh, yes, they blamed violent games marketed to our children for the problem of violence. The one thing that really bothers me whenever I hear that, is that those games are not marketed to children. In fact, children can’t buy them themselves, so there is definitely adults making the decision to buy those games for their kids, so even if they did lead to violence – kids shouldn’t have them anyway.

Reputable study after reputable study proves that that isn’t the case, though. Violent games do not incite violence. But it’s just so easy to say they do, cause then no one has to actually fix any problems, right? In Southington, CT, they figure collecting video games and burning them ought to fix things quite nicely. In fact, though their Chamber of Commerce starts out by saying “The group’s action is not intended to be construed as statement declaring that violent video games were the cause of the shocking violence in Newtown on December 14th,” they go on to assert just that, “there is ample evidence that violent video games, along with violent media of all kinds, including TV and Movies portraying story after story showing a continuous stream of violence and killing, has contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying.” Never mind that there actually isn’t actually reputable evidence showing violent video games are increasing aggressiveness. It’s an easy scapegoat, and an easy solution to an overwhelmingly complicated issue.

To be honest, it boggles my mind that video games come up so often in this sort of debate. As video game usage has increased, violent crime has decreased. That likely isn’t a causational thing, but if games were causing it, shouldn’t it be increasing in kind? Not to mention the whole issue of who is committing these horrible mass killings. Overwhelmingly, they are young white males. And yet, the average gamer is 35. Gamers are young and old, male and female, rich and poor. If games are a factor, the mix of killers should match the mix of gamers, at least somewhat. The fact is, no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary, video games will be reviled in much the same way controversial books are. People don’t like to step out of their comfort zones, and when some game designer, author, or script writer does it, the accusations start.

In Southington, CT, they have good intentions. They want to reduce violence, and they think getting rid of the violent games is going to do it. Kids or parents can turn the games in, and get gift certificates in return. The games are then snapped in half, and placed in a dumpster to be burned. It saddens me that all that time, money, and effort could have really done a lot of good if only it was used differently. What if they used that donated money and time to fund programs that have been shown to reduce violence in young males? What if they funded a center for teens, where they can go to hang out and meet good role models? What if they used it to fund effective parenting classes, or intervention tools for at risk youth? Sadly, none of that is easy, or good press, and so they burn video games instead. Viva La Flamme.




U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)