The Sound Of Inevitability

Tuffcub beat to me the punch at posting the news of how the UK tabloid the Daily Star has firmly grasped in its inky hands the imminent threat to society that is the CoD: MW2 Prestige Pack. This being a slow news week though I thought I would share my thoughts on the story.

The Daily Star contends that the inclusion of night vision goggles will transform “geeky game fans” into an “army of ogling pervs”.  Ignoring for a moment all of the many things that are wrong with that contention you have to admit that since details of the Prestige Pack were revealed back in July this story was always going to appear in a paper.

Clearly they were just waiting until the game itself was just a month away from release before alerting the public about this impending threat to their privacy and I am sure we will encounter similar stories from other news outlets over the coming weeks.

We Are Not Altogether Blameless

The Star’s only cited “evidence” (not that it really is evidence) for its story comes from comments made, presumably light-heartedly, on gaming websites.  The two comments it cites are from VG247 and PS3Attitude respectively:

“They’re good enough for stealth dogging/cruising and I think that’s all anyone really cares about.”

“Now instead of squinting to see what appears to be a shadow in the house next door, you can put these bad boys on and become the Peeping Tom you’ve always wanted to be.”

Unfortunately you do not have to look that hard on any gaming site to find similar comments.   Indeed you can read such things here on TSA.  Sure, we know that the comments have been said in jest but the fact that they are out there on a public forum does make it very easy for the press to continue their vilification and stereotyping of gamers.

Now I am not suggesting for a minute that we stop having a laugh or a joke about such subjects but as long as gamers can be seen to be writing such comments we will have to understand that some elements of the mainstream media will take them out of context and we will be left with the consequences.

Ogling For £90

Something that the Star completely ignores in its story is the fact that equivalent night vision googles have been on sale for sometime as toys marketed as suitable for anyone over the age of eight.  One example set that took me as long to find as it took to type “night vision goggles” into Google are available for under £90 (£25 less than the Prestige Pack) from such well known dens of iniquity such as John Lewis and Argos.

night-vision-goggles_alt3As you can see these proudly fly the Union Flag on the packaging and have the backing of none other than H.M. Armed Forces.  Presumably that is what makes them immune to tabloid panic-inducing mania.  The box describes the two viewing modes available:

Mode #1 Maximum Surveillance – For long range recon and scouting missions.  Patrol the outdoors and see up to 15m in complete darkness.

Mode #2 Close Proximity Stealth – For missions requiring a closer look.  Monitor your home in the night and see what goes on when the lights go out.

If that is not going to encourage eight year old kids to potentially wander around poking their night vision goggle-balancing noses where their parents might not necessarily appreciate them I do not know what is.

Why Are Gamers Different?

Given that such toys are widely available on a high street near you why is the nation not infested with “ogling pervs” all roaming the countryside already?  We know that cannot be the case because if it was the government would have experienced one of its usual knee-jerk reactions and banned their sale and use.

Why is it only now when the same kind of toy comes packaged in the special edition of a game that the nation’s privacy is suddenly in danger from “geeky game fans”?  Given that the game is similarly militarily-focused to the above toy, are gamers, especially geeky ones like myself, a higher risk group than a random sampling of the public on the average high street?

Of course we are not.  This is just the latest, inevitable, continuation of the mainstream press’ portrayal of gamers as dangerous loners – unless their gaming is confined purely to Nintendo’s current consoles, in which case gaming may even be a healthy pursuit with gamers playing Mario Kart Wii using their Wii Cyberbike!

No doubt we will have to wait until a month or two after the game’s release for the papers to be filled with reports of how a reclusive gamer became a Jame Gumb copycat killer after being enabled by the night vision goggles in his Prestige Pack.

I cannot wait until the tabloids see the latest Army of Two 2 promotional video…