Jeremy Clarkson called Gordon Brown a “one-eyed Scottish idiot” and the whole world cheered. Clarkson was probably referring to Brown’s gross mismanagement of the British economy whilst he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, but this is not Brown’s only idiocy. When he blamed knife crime on video games he was being patently stupid. Studies show that the graphs over time of video game playing and of violent crime by youths tend to be inversely proportional. So the reality is the opposite of what Brown said. No surprise there.
And then there are the other idiots, the ones in the “old” media, who consistently attack gaming. Partly out of sheer ignorance and partly out of fear that their days are numbered. Fox News in America and the Mail in the UK are prime examples of this. What they report would be totally laughable if it weren’t for the fact that some people are gullible enough to believe what the news media say.
So now the European parliament has done an investigation into the effects of video games and issued a report. And it will come as no surprise to the intelligent, educated people who read this blog that the report blows Gordon Brown, Keith Vaz and all the other populist self publicists completely out of the water. Just as the book “Grand Theft Childhood” did. And even the Byron review as well.
How about this for a quote from the report: “Video games can stimulate learning of facts and skills such as strategic thinking, creativity, cooperation and innovative thinking, which are important skills in the information society.” Sounds just like this blog, doesn’t it? So I commend the European parliament on their erudition and judgement.
The fact is that video gaming is merely a communication medium, just like books, television, film and newspapers. The detractors seem to continually fail to get their heads round this one. What video gaming has over the older media is that it is interactive, non linear and connected. It is for these three reasons that we are taking over.
So what matters is the content. And, quite frankly, video gaming is tame compared with the older media. Anyone who has any knowledge of this will agree. And remember that large swathes of old media have no child protection whatsoever, whereas video games have a strong age rating system which also translates into very responsible advertising standards.
Parents are responsible for bringing up their own children. So allowing kids to have an 18+ game is just the same as allowing them to watch Debbie Does Dallas or giving them a bottle of Laphroig to drink. The politicians and the news media would be far better occupied getting this message over than their current Pavlovian responses to gaming.
You see, what most people don’t realise is that we are still at the very beginning of video gaming. In the near term it will grow to be bigger than TV and Film put together. But over the longer term the three technical advantages it has as a medium will make it all pervasive. It will take over older methods of human communication in many aspects of every one’s lives. Education, certainly, will be far more effective once it fully embraces gaming. As will many areas of business. Just wait and see.
And just so I am not accused of being a propagandist for gaming being the best thing on planet earth, let me say that there is a major problem with what our industry does. A problem that is not properly addressed and a problem that has featured on these pages before. And that problem is game and internet addiction. But I am not proposing that Vaz, Brown etc now jump on this in a misinformed, alarmist tirade. What I am saying is that this is an area that deserves far, far more informed debate.