But picking up agency copy without checking the facts for themselves, the Mail and Sun have accused the wrong game of being involved in the case.
The Sun's (now-removed) article said:
A mum let her two dogs starve to death and neglected her three kids after becoming hooked on online game Small World.
The Mail's article by Jaya Narain, which is still online, claimed:
The 33-year-old woman played the Small World game almost non-stop on the internet for months while her children were reduced to eating cold baked beans straight from the tin with their fingers.
Both papers identify Small World, instead of Small Worlds. Small World is not an online game but a board game. It is available on the iPad but not in an online version. And it isn't on Facebook, as the Mail (inevitably) claim. The game's publisher, Days of Wonder, has responded:
In a classic case of “Google Journalism”, erroneous press reports from British newspapers, the Daily Mail and the Sun that implicate Days of Wonder’s Small World board game have spread like wildfire over the internet.
The stories mistakenly blame the Small World board game as the reason a British woman neglected her children and let the family dogs die because she was so addicted to online game play.
We can only assume that the so-called “journalists” mistook Small World, for a similarly named online virtual world.
While unable to spend a few minutes fact-checking to learn that their story could not be possibly true (Small World has no online play – the only digital version is the two player Small World for iPad); they were able to search our website to download graphics of the board game and further smear our name.
Days of Wonder categorically states that the Small World board game is not in any way connected to this tragic story and we are asking the papers in question retract their stories.
And a statement from Days of Wonder CEO Eric Hautemont says:
"One wonders if reporters check their sources! The information published on the websites of the Daily Mail and the Sun has spread like wildfire on the Web. The copyrighted images attempting to incriminate our Small World game have circulated from England to Australia and no one bothered to check if this was indeed the right game in question."
Days of Wonder is currently considering legal action regarding this misrepresentation of the Small World board game and hopes the newspapers responsible for these defamatory statements will give similar coverage to a retraction.
It seems the Sun have taken note and taken their article down. When will the Mail?
Moreover, this wasn't the only error in the Mail's article. Originally, they had included a screenshot from yet another game, Warhammer, which also wasn't involved in the case.
According the Willard Foxton, Warhammer's lawyers had the image removed from the article yesterday afternoon and received an apology.
When will Days of Wonder receive the same?
(Hat-tip to Dick Mandrake)