Is selective reporting responsible for videogame vilification?
By Stevie Smith Dec 22, 2007, 7:38 GMT
Videogames in the firing line as journalists ignore the truth in favour of a good story. Credit: Leggnet.com
Journalists bashing videogames and gaming for the sake of sensationalist press is becoming a worrying trend that must be thrilling the world’s anti-videogame activists as they look to tie gaming to the behaviour of dangerously imbalanced sociopaths.
For example, this week saw two violent videogame incidents reported by the mainstream media in the United States. In both cases, the ensuing reports focus in on videogame hardware and software being the main contributing factors that ultimately led to outbursts of violence by those involved.
One such report claims that Antonio Castillo (37) stabbed his nephew, Luis Alberto Santana (34), in the head and abdomen this past Thursday "following a fight over a PlayStation," in Chattanooga, Tennessee. However, the same report then outlines that Castillo had left clothing, a TV, and a PlayStation at his nephew’s house and an argument broke out when he returned to collect them. It is therefore little more than witch-hunt journalism to isolate the PlayStation as the sole catalyst for the attack.
The media dare not blame the attack on TV, one of its biggest audience platforms, but what of videogames? Now that’s a massively popular rival medium they can help knock down a peg or two with some choice reporting and a spurious tone of condemnation.
Furthermore, other reports have this week rolled the sensationalist ‘let’s bash videogames’ bandwagon in the direction of Frankie Starling, who suffered a gunshot wound to the leg courtesy of Geoffrey Alford (25), after an argument broke out while the latter was playing videogames with Mr. Starling’s cousin.
Was the argument about the sometimes-controversial content of videogames, their potentially negative effects on society, or whether the Xbox 360 is better than the PlayStation 3? No, according to local authorities, the argument erupted because one of the three parties would not close a door.
But do the press choose to highlight this seemingly banal but vitally important aspect of the incident? No, of course they don’t, because that just won’t shift print in a time when blaming videogames for all of society’s evils is the fashionable thing to do. Instead they choose to conveniently pick up on the fact that the shooter had come over to play videogames – thereby guaranteeing a readership for that particular story.
Truly horrific attacks do transpire that potentially place videogames in a poor light; the recent death of a 7-year-old girl in Colorado who died at the hands of two teenagers allegedly re-enacting "wrestling moves" from Mortal Kombat is one such foul incident. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that random acts of domestic violence, from which a journalist can connect an excruciatingly tenuous link back to videogames, should see gaming unfairly and unjustly vilified because the watching world needs something to fear.
In the case of the recent spate of gun shootings across the US, perhaps an outdated yet all-but untouchable Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights (drafted between 1789-1791), which allows virtually any imbecile barely out of puberty to own a firearm, should be the first port of call for the patriotic knee-jerk reactionaries who immediately look to whether the shooter played videogames by way of a trusty scapegoat.
In criticising America’s undying love affair with the right to bear arms, the late, great (American) comedian Bill Hicks said it best when he said: "There’s no link between having a gun and shooting someone with it, and not having a gun and not shooting someone. And you’d be a fool and a Communist to make one."