Sunday, 30 August 2009

Mail tries to link Cherie Blair to Virginia Tech massacre

The Daily Mail is attacking two of its favourite hate figures - Cherie Blair and video games - in an entirely pathetic story with what appears to have no news value whatsoever.

Cherie Blair and her son join firm linked to violent computer game explains that she and son Nicky have become directors of a company called Magnitude Gaming.

The actual link between the firm and the 'violent computer game' Counter Strike seems very tenuous at best. The Mail explains that the company:

manage[s] semi-professional teams in the growing ‘e-sport’ world...The company has run a team playing the Counter-Strike combat game.

So it's not as if they designed or published the game, but simply run a team playing it (along with many other games, no doubt). Or did. The statement from company secretary Gabriel Moraes says:

‘Magnitude has never been involved with games containing any kind of street violence. We had one game involving soldiers in military combat but it had a rating of 18-plus and was a team game. We stopped involvement with that game some months ago.’

As the Blairs only became directors in February, it's likely there was only a few months overlap.

And then the two journalists who wrote the story, Brendan Carlin and Simon McGee, get to their main point:

There have been claims that perpetrators of massacres in the US and Germany have been fans of the game.

Ah. 'Claims'. How very definitive.

The 'claims' appear to have been made by serial trouble-maker Jack Thompson, who has made a living out of blaming video games for real-life violence. He linked the Virginia Tech shootings by Cho Seung-Hui to the game but failed to understand that:

Thompson has also linked the game to another shooting at Northern Illinois University, where the perpetrator had played the game, but was also a former psychiatric patient who had stopped taking anti-depressant medication.

But back to Cherie and they try to make her sound like a hypocrite because she:

chaired a major inquiry into the growth of knife and gun crime on Britain’s streets which acknowledged the ‘dire consequences on some young people’ of the video games and films they watched.

But that is a very selective bit of cut-and-pasting. Here's the section in full in which that 'dire consequences' quote actually appears:

Finally, the broader cultural context in which young people live – the music they listen to, the films they watch, the video games and sports they play – are important in articulating values, defining what is ‘cool’ and fashionable and legitimising social norms.

Nevertheless, the impact that these cultural factors have on encouraging violence, desensitizing empathy and legitimising anti-social behaviour is contested.

Among the questions communities feel the need to address is why these factors impact with such dire consequences on some young people while others from the same background and subject to these same cultural influences have different aspirations and choose a lifestyle that does not reinforce their social exclusion.

That is the only section of the whole 121-page report which mentions video games - and appears on page 76. And it says any link is 'contested'. It is not a damning conclusion as the Mail tries to suggest.

1 comment:

  1. "Ah. 'Claims'. How very definitive." Kudos for your turn of phrase. It made me smile.


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