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After Newtown, Massachusetts pulls violent games from rest stops

By Daniel Lovering

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Massachusetts has pulled violent arcade games from its highway service plazas after a family raised concerns they might offend residents of neighboring Connecticut, which last month witnessed the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

Tracey and Andrew Hyams called for the games' removal because they thought residents of Newtown, Connecticut, might stumble across them, Massachusetts transportation department spokeswoman Sara Lavoie said on Friday. A gunman killed 20 first graders, six adults and himself in a December 14 attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

The couple and their children were driving to Boston from New York on Christmas Eve when they stopped at a rest stop about an hour's drive from the Newtown and saw a young man pointing a life-size toy machine gun at a video game machine.

"We were struck by the possibility that someone from the Newtown community, driving east for the Christmas holiday, might stumble across this scene," they wrote in an e-mail message to the Department of Transportation.

Such games "have no place in state-sponsored highway rest stops - particularly those in such close proximity to real-life tragedy," the email continued.

In response to the complaint, Massachusetts authorities asked service plaza operators to remove violent arcade games at rest stops across the state. Nine games were replaced or removed from plazas operated by Burger King or McDonald's Corp, the spokeswoman said.

The Newtown attacks, which left a total of 28 dead including the gunman's mother, has led to calls for a boycott of violent video games, with some Americans worried they can desensitize players to violence in the real world.

Vice President Joe Biden, who is heading a White House panel aimed at coming up with ways to stop gun violence, is due to meet with representatives of the movie and video game industry on Friday.

(Editing By Scott Malone and Tim Dobbyn)

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