The GameCore inbox has been overflowing since Tuesday, when CBS Evening News. Correspondent Cynthia Bowers reported that game-cheat devices and downloadable patches could unlock x-rated scenes in the game.
At the heart of the debate was whether or not federal or state governments should step in to regulate video game sales to minors, and whether violent games are detrimental to children.
Reaction to the Evening News piece has all been similar: They hated it. As one correspondent wrote, "This is ENTERTAINMENT."
After countless years of inaccurate, one-sided reporting by the mainstream media, video game journalists barely bat an eye when we see yet another shoddy expose on the current state of video game violence. It was hard not to squint, however, after watching Cynthia Bowers bludgeon a dead horse with another misinformed, wildly biased stab at this issue. The inaccuracies are blatant, from the very first sentence (GTA doesn't reward players for killing cops, and does, in fact, throw you in prison for it) to her mystifying choice of data suggesting that far too many children have played Mature games. Try asking how many of those kids have seen an R-rated film and I'm sure you'll be stunned all over again. She fails to mention that precisely zero studies have found any substantial link between violent video games and violent behavior. While she interviews a high-school teacher and the governor of Illinois to represent a concerned society, she chooses a fifteen year-old boy to represent the video game industry. Hope he was an honor student.
The most telling aspect of this report, however, comes in her Web-only addendum, in which she admits that the real problem is her inability to keep up with her kid's technological savvy and her outright fear of losing touch. I appreciate the honest admission, but you're worried about video games? Guess what - in a few clicks on the Internet, he can find the kind of pornographic filth most thirteen year-olds only dream of (try doing a Google search for the word "sex." I imagine he's tried sketchier lingo that that.)
Frankly, Ms. Bowers, this kind of fear-inducing hooey only furthers the public's misunderstanding of contemporary games and gamers. You should spend less time filing sloppy reports about topics you know little about and more time telling other parents to touch base with their kids. Just as they don't want Johnny eating candy all day long, it's healthy to be aware of what films he watches, television he enjoys and games he plays. And more than anything, they shouldn't believe everything they read.
-Ben Silverman, Editor in Chief of GameRevolution.com
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