Saturday, January 5, 2013

Southington Plans Video Game Burning

I wrote the following article for  Please be sure to visit Nerdzy regularly for my daily articles.

In 1692 and 1693 we saw Witches burned at the stake in Salem, MA.  Throughout the 20th century we saw many book burnings to protest risque or misunderstood content.  In 1966, there was even a record burnings as a result of a comment John Lennon made.

Looking back, it seems pretty silly to burn something because we do not understand it.  Our lack of comprehension on the subjects seem to translate to evil, so we must burn it to rid it from our presence.  I would assume that most people, looking back, would have reacted differently knowing what we know now.
However, to a group in the town of Southington, Conneticut, burning violent video games seems like the solution to America’s violence problem.

Before I continue, please advise that I am saddened by the Sandy Hook Tragedy.  That day will forever be in our American history, and we must now live with that.  The event should not have happened and could have been prevented.  However, I refuse to believe that video games are the cause of the perpetrators unspeakable acts.  His issues reside much deeper in his soul.  However, much like the burnings of the past, we focus on one element of his lifestyle and condemn it to burn into ashes, rather than focus on the true issue because it is too hard to fathom.

The group, named SouthingtonSOS, has organized the “Violent Video Games Return Program”, which will take place on January 12, 2013.  In a press release, they stated the following:

“As people arrive in their cars to turn in their games of violence, they will be offered a gift certificate donated by a member of the Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce as a token of appreciation for their action of responsible citizenship. Violent games turned in will be destroyed and placed in the town dumpster for appropriate permanent disposal.”
Now, SouthingtonSOS is not blaming video games for the tragedy, at least not outright.  They are leaning heavily on evidence that video games lead to violence:

“The publication of the first press story today has attracted a significant response which was no surprise to SouthingtonSOS. 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.
Rather, SouthingtonSOS is saying is 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. Social and political commentators, as well as elected officials including the president,are attributing violent crime to many factors including inadequate gun control laws, a culture of violence and a recreational culture of violence.”

Honestly, I am almost at a loss for words.  They state that they are not blaming violent video games, yet go on to say that video games have given evidence to violent behavior, such as bullying, increased aggressiveness, fear, etc.  I have to say that I am very disturbed that our nation has moved on from taking responsibility for our actions, and passed blame onto scapegoats.

As a child, I can remember being bullied.  I was not rich, I never had the latest clothes, or swatch watch.  When not around my friends I was a loner, and I was okay with that.

Before Sophmore year of High School, I had to attend a two week band camp for marching band.  While waiting my turn to march in a line, I sat on the sidelines with all the other band students.  We had a band of about 200 students, and only twenty were marching at a time.  As I sat there, in the grass, awaiting my turn, I just daydreamed.  Finally, it was my turn.  As I stood up, some of the juniors were laughing.  Apparently, there was a small amount of dog poop right where I was sitting.  Just enough to make it look like I had soiled myself.  I was immediately embarrassed, and could not wait for the next hour to pass.  Although I had hoped they would forget about it, I was known as “Mr. Poopy Pants” for the next two years by that small group of bullies. Of course, they took every opportunity to bully me in the class.

That was only one example, however there are many more.  For me, video games were an escape from all of that.  I could go home and be Link or Samus, or Raiden.  I could escape in the other worlds and be the hero.  Not once did I ever feel the need to take it to the next level and become violent.

Today, I am grown up with children of my own.  They play video games as much as I used to.  One of my 15 year old daughter’s favorite games is Call of Duty: Black Ops.  I am okay with that.  Why, you ask?  Because I am involved in her life.  I do not use the XboxMicrosoft Xbox 360 Slim 4GB Kinect Holiday Bundle Video Game System - S4G16P (Google Affiliate Ad), PlayStation, Nintendo, or any of the 40 plus gaming consoles as a babysitter.  Her Mother and I make it our business to know what is happening in her life.  It is not always easy, and we are not always the “good guys”, but parents are supposed to be the bad guys sometimes.

I do not condone the burning of the violent video games.  However, I hope that by coming together for the event, a dialogue opens about what can be done to prevent future atrocities from happening.  I hope that, in that dialogue, people realize that the best way to prevent violence is to be there for those you love.  Be involved, know what they are doing, who they are hanging out with, who is picking on them.  Whether a Parent, relative, or friend, you must step into the lives of those you care about.  If there is an underlying issue that you cannot solve, then seek out professional help.  Remember, if you are aware of the potential for violent behavior, and you do not step in to help, you could be contributing to the outcome.

Violence is preventable.  As a society, we can prevent future tragedies, as long as we step in and take responsibility.  Burning/banning inanimate objects is not the answer.  It just draws attention away from the true issue at hand.  From witches to books, to records, to video games, when do we learn that we cannot continue to pass the blame?

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