We don’t like it when the mainstream press tries to insinuate that anyone who plays video games is a salivating pervert or a violent sociopath. So we like to point it out in an effort to shine light on ignorance and, hopefully, have some small degree of influence over what might be reported in the future. It’s not doing us much good though. In spite of levelling sensible and reasoned debate at the producers of the Alan Titchmarsh show and pointing out the preposterousness of the Daily Star’s recent “GTA: Rothbury” invention, we still see it fairly regularly and it’s still offensive, misguided and bigoted.
Today it’s the turn of The Metro, London’s free paper. Their website is running a story (screengrab below) about a man who admitted attempted rape on a woman who was so drunk as to be almost unconscious. So drunk, in fact, that she was vomiting in the street as the man sexually assaulted her. All of this happened after a Christmas party outside a Hard Rock Cafe in London and today the man was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment.
Now, if I were to run a story like that I might, perhaps, focus on the dangers of women getting so drunk and finding themselves alone and susceptible to criminals. Maybe attempt to influence women to think more about their habits when out drinking and perhaps try to stay with friends, be a little bit safer.
I might run the story as a piece that applauded the Hard Rock Cafe’s staff who quickly phoned the police and got the situation stopped before it could develop into something even more serious. Maybe, if I was feeling particularly rebelious, I might run a story pointing out how utterly ridiculous it is that a man should try to rape a woman in the middle of a busy street and then only be sentenced to two and a half years. He’ll probably be out in under eighteen months.
At some point in my version of the story I might point out the dangers of over-indulging with alcohol and the responsibility that we as a society must shoulder to educate people more adequately against abusing the drug. I might run the story as a piece referencing some of the mountains of firm evidence that alcohol abuse is dangerous to an individual’s health and personal safety, not to mention the damage that the binge drinking culture does to our society as a whole. I could include quotes from people who know far more than I do about the subject and maybe even have a little graph to illustrate instances of violent crime around cultural drinking events like Christmas.
The Metro didn’t choose to focus on any of these points though. Instead, they chose to shoot off an incredibly lazy, narrow-minded and offensively bigoted piece which focused on the fact that this attempted rapist had a job (which he has since been fired from) testing video games. Yes, he sits in a dimly lit room testing those nasty video games about killing and stealing and drinking and rape. That’s bound to have some sort of effect on a person’s psyche isn’t it? Well, no, actually. There has never been an independent and conclusive study which proves any link between simulated video game violence and real-world instances of violence on any level other than anecdotal and extremely rare cases.
Besides, he was testing Sonic the Hedgehog, so unless he was trying to spin attack into mechanical crabs outside the Hard Rock Cafe then The Metro’s allusions are entirely ridiculous.
Not quite so ridiculous though, perhaps, as one or two of the profoundly ignorant comments on the story. One of which states:
Once again video games strike. when will these type of people people learn that you can’t do whatever you want like in Grand Theft Auto or Tekken. There are no laws in video games and it corrupts people minds. I also see that the man in question was a fan of Death Metal Music. This has a similar effect and message. call me cynical but this combination sounds bad from the start [sic] P. Wiggins, Colchester
Ok Mr. (or Mrs.) Wiggins, you’re cynical. Furthermore, you appear to be an idiot who has pulled his (or her) opinion exclusively from the baseless drivelling of other, slightly more dangerous idiots who have a wider platform from which to spew their ignorance.
I know we highlight this sort of thing quite often here on TheSixthAxis but we really think that it needs to be shown. When a widely-known news source spins a story in such a misguided, misleading and, frankly, offensive way we think it should be seen by as many people as possible. Perhaps by exposing their stupidity we can make them think twice before they launch their next entirely fictitious tirade against a group of human beings simply because they don’t understand their hobby.
This is tantamount to a hate crime, they influence their readership to think badly of a particular group of people based solely on their association with a particular entertainment medium. Replace the insinuous references to gaming in The Metro’s story with references to a religion or a race (or even gender) and see how comfortably it reads.
If anyone at The Metro would like to get in touch and talk to us about their representation of gamers, or even if they’d like to consult with us at TheSixthAxis before they cover the world’s largest grossing entertainment industry in such a negative way again, we’re all ears. We’d like to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.