A small community in Newtown, Connecticut is inviting its people to participate in the 'Violent Video Games Return Program' as a gesture of solidarity in the wake of the recent Sandy Hook massacre.
Polygon reports Southington is offering $25 gift vouchers in exchange for violent video games, movies and music. The items will be thrown in a town dumpster and likely incinerated.
The initiative was set up by SounthingtonSOS, a collection of community groups including the YMCA, Chamber of Commerce, local clergy and the fire department, after the community expressed a desire to do something meaningful for Newtown.
"What happened in our community, very similar to communities across the world, is everyone wanted to do something for Newtown," said Southington School superintendent Joe Erardi. "[The SOS] convened and we looked at how do we continue to pray and support Newtown and how do we do something perhaps meaningful for Newtown and our own community."
The initiative says it's intended to encourage parents to have a "real, sound conversation with their children about video games."
"There are youngsters who appear to be consumed with violent video games," continued Erardi. "I'm not certain if that's a good thing. If this encourages one courageous conversation with a parent and their child, then it's a success.
"We're suggesting that for parents who have a child or children who play violent video games, to first of all view the games. We're asking parents to better understand what their child is doing. Have a conversation about next steps. If parents are comfortable (with their child's gaming habits), we're comfortable."
In an official statement from the SouthingtonSOS, it said the event was not intended as a condemnation of video games, or to blame games for the tragedy.
"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," reads the statement.
"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."
Following the tragedy National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre layed the blame squarely at the feet of the video game industry, describing it as a "callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people".
However, SouthingtonSOS said that a number of factors beyond games have been linked to violent crimes.
"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."