BOSTON (CBS) – The state of Massachusetts has removed some video games from highway rest stops because of their violent content. It all started with the Hyams family of Newton, traveling home Christmas Eve and stopping at the rest stop in Charlton along the Turnpike.
“There was this teenager standing in front of a video game holding a life-like machine gun,” said Tracey Hyams. “You heard it first, it was rat-a-tat-tat,” said her husband Andy. The game was located just outside a rest room.
The family, traveling with their two sons, was shocked by what they saw, especially after passing the Newtown, Connecticut exit just an hour earlier, the scene of the tragic mass shooting. “We were with our kids and just haunted by what happened,” said Tracey Hyams.
She wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation, describing what she saw, and requesting they “remove this and similar video game machines.” The family believes video games contribute to a culture of violence writing “they de-sensitize players to the realities of mass destruction.”
They were surprised by a response in a matter of days. The state had contacted the vendors, McDonald’s and Burger King, which run the travel plazas and the family received a letter that their request would be honored. This week nine machines at four plazas in Charlton, Lee, Lenox and Beverly were removed and replaced with more family-friendly games.
Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey calls it common sense. “It’s raising awareness that this kind of violence is unacceptable,” he says. “This may be a small token, but the family brought it to our attention and it was right.”
The machines often go unnoticed by drivers making a quick stop, but the Hyams say this time the stop was noteworthy. “It’s a little step of citizen activism and it was gratifying that it worked,” said Tracey Hyams.