Over the last twelve months, there have been several instances of gaming being blamed for much of society’s problems. Instances such as the Alan Titchmarsh show or the Panorama special, Addicted to Games, where shows tried to belittle our hobby, so when The Wright Stuff announced plans to tackle the possibility of violence in video games being directly related for violent behaviour in the nations young, I feared this would be another unbalanced and ignorant attack on gaming.
I personally contacted the production company before it aired to advise that this subject has been covered many times in the mainstream media, but the majority have turned it into a witch hunt rather than taking a balanced look at gaming and the game industry. I thought that it is my duty as a gamer to help wherever I can to give another side of the argument.
For example, the argument that the average age of a gamer in the UK is actually 34-35, and are more likely to be a husband, one of many across the land who wait for the wife and kids to go to bed so they can stop up and play a game with their friends. This is a point that is often missed on such reports, so when they ask the usual multiple-choice questions between ad breaks, it might be enlightening for their viewers to find that the average age of a gamer is actually in that bracket, and that the fastest selling product in entertainment product in history, making $360 million in only 24 hours, was actually a game, not a film like Avatar.
I also urged that it would be quite refreshing and forward thinking for them to feature both sides of the argument, so asked them to read about the viewpoint from the gaming community and to take into account that video games now sell more than CD’s and DVD’s combined and bring a huge amount of money into the country, which is something for the country to be thankful for in the current economic climate.
Despite no reply from the show’s makers, I remained hopeful, until of course, the show was aired. To be fair to Matthew Wright, he began by trying to show both sides of the story but he was quickly shot down in flames by Anne Diamond, who confessed to having already written an article on the subject for the Daily Mail, before saying with alarming conviction:
“Look at the crimes that we’re beginning to witness now. The drive-by shootings; common in America, almost and beginning here.”
Matthew Wright asks:
“Weren’t they common before games?”
Game expert, and sometimes Daily Mail writer, Anne Diamond.
“I’m not sure about that” says Anne, “We seem to be seeing more of it. We’re seeing kids with an arsenal of weapons under their bed, then something snaps and they go into their old school and shoot it up. We do tend to be seeing crimes that are the things that are happening in video games.”
So there you have it, gamers have an arsenal of weapons under their beds and the games themselves actually inspire drive-by shootings. Regrettably, what they failed to debate or discuss was that the violent video games they speak of carry an 18 certification, and as the average gamer age is over thirty it should not be an issue.
The sad fact is that some parents are neglecting their parental responsibility by buying their kids adult entertainment and leaving them unattended in their bedrooms for hours on end, without any interaction with their family. Usually so they can sit in front of the TV in peace and quiet. This is the ticking time bomb. Why are parents giving their children adult entertainment? Why are parents leaving their children unattended for many hours?
These are the questions that are seldom asked on such shows, and mainly because every subject has to be resolved in a short article where it is much easier to blame films and video games than tackle the real complex issues in today’s society.
Have you ever noticed that if there is a subject that you are well-informed about featured on the news or media in general, you quickly realise how many inaccuracies are flippantly reported as fact, along with words such as “Could”, “Would” and “Should”. Welcome to the world of TV, which is dominated by a team of researchers who will quickly look up a subject and pass on to presenters to debate and resolve complex issues within a five-minute segment.
Print media is dying rapidly; as people are increasingly losing interest in old and out of date news that was reported online ages ago. In a world of 200+ TV channels, the main stations are also losing viewers as quickly as advertising revenues because people’s habits are changing, and the world is changing, make no mistake. Rather than sit watching the usual mind numbing two hours of soap operas each night, viewers are online talking to friends on their laptops and iPads or even through gaming consoles.
With this in mind, it was quite sad to see on Friday’s follow up show with Matthew Wright announcing that “Now, a bunch of brain-dead computer nerds seem to have a problem with you exercising your right to free speech, Anne”, in response to CVG’s W.R.O.N.G campaign.
CVG W.R.O.N.G campaign gathers pace.
Forums were full of comments on this lazy report and CVG community member, “WhereIsMyDonkey”, summed it up best by saying “This isn’t an attack on free speech Anne. It’s an attack on uninformed scaremongering and irresponsible journalism. Reasoned and informed debate on the subject has been welcomed by the games industry for the past twenty years. The continued assault on gaming is the response from an incredibly scared industry that is under threat from a newer and more intelligent form of entertainment”.
It seems that a TV programme can generalise and label an entire generation as being addicted and violent with an arsenal of weapons under their bed for drive-by shootings, but if we dare to dispute these facts, then we are called ‘Brain-dead computer nerds’. This has more than a hint of irony from our viewpoint, but the next time you see ignorance and hypocrisy on your screens, try and take a little comfort in the fact that this old world and way of thinking is slowly dying and there is a bright future where people think, debate and will no longer do or believe whatever the TV tells them.
One of the beautiful things about Twitter is that world events are no longer spoon-fed by the establishment or worse still, the Murdoch empire, but live, as it happens, from the people. Sure these changes are in their early stages but a change in people’s thinking now is just as revolutionary as when Bob Dylan wrote The Times They Are A-Changin’ back in the 1960’s.
As you read this, I am sure that W.R.O.N.G (against the Witless and Ridiculous Opinions Of Non-Gamers) campaign from CVG, which mocks those who try to spread lies and ignorance about the games industry will continue to attract high-profile support and prove that a change is going to come, and much sooner than you may think.