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Itv News Feature On Videogame Violence


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As I was surfing through channels last night, by some extreme coincidence I flicked onto ITV just as Trevor McDonald was uttering the words, "violent video games." What followed was a fifteen minute feature mainly about Manhunt and GTA.

I was getting ready to start booing and throwing chips at the TV, anticipating tawdry sensationalism and poorly-researched journalism, but what followed was surprisingly even-handed.

The focus was very much on educating parents about the violent content of the latest games and shaming retailers for selling 18 rated games to 12 year olds (they sent a couple of tykes out into the field with hidden cameras). Generic retailers such as Virgin and Dixons came of worst, whereas the specialist shops weren't mentioned so I assume they refused sale. Well done Game!

High-profile tragedies such as Columbine, the Stephan Pakeerah murder and the GTA-style highway shooting that RedEye wrote about were dragged up again along with footage of a wide-eyed youth playing Manhunt in a darkened room, but at no point did anyone suggest banning or lawsuits as the answer. Instead, the BBFC classifications were spelt out clearly and parental responsibility was stressed.

All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised with the informative nature of the feature. Mentioning games in connections with things like Columbine doesn't do anyone any good, but at least it will make parents sit up and take notice. In fact, when they cited text from the Manhunt manual (stuff like "two or three chops will be enough to decapitate your victim"), even I started to feel a bit guilty as a defender of the game.

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Yep, I was pretty pleased with the balanced reporting that featured - lots of excruciating moments where I thought "Here they go, now it's time to turn the knife" but they never did.

Kinda muddied the issue when M.C. Donald and the female reporter who led the piece both confused 'videos' and 'videogames', but other than that I was quite impressed.

Of course, that snooty kid who did the consumer test buying the games while clearly underage will make most of the high street retailers set more stringent guidelines for selling to underage customers, so he's obviously going to get his little head kicked in by his schoolmates today. "You little posh twat - you've spoiled it for all of us :lol: "


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Dixons seemed to have lots of signs up proclaiming on Friday that they would feel free to refuse 18 rated games to minors.

I assume they just couldn't bring themselves not to stock the 2.5 copies of GTA:SA they had in each store.

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There's a big thread about this up on NTSC-UK

Many of them have submitted complaints to Ofcome about the program, although i am still considering doing the same myself I have submitted the following feedback to ITV.

As a young adult who has at least 10 years experience in the world of videogames, I strongly resent the types of scare tactics employed in this program.  The jump-cut footage of a teenage child staring at a TV screen, eyes bulged with images from the game reflecting off his eyeballs and edited in a manner that seems to try and emulate the kind of camera techniques frequently employed in a typical horror movie and is used at frequent intervals throughout the film seems to serve little purpose other than to instill unease and fear in what I suspect are a large proportion of the audience for this film.  It does little more than reinforce established sterotypes about videogames in the mass media.  Although I agree with the underlying point of the film (that there should be tighter regulations on the sale of adult content in videogames to minors) it was presented in a frequently biased, ill researched manner which in some instances bordered on the sensationalist and unprofessional.

There are several other instances of factual innacurcay, misrepresentation and bias in this program, but i shall not bother listing them all here as I belive a complaint which covers most of my grievences has already been submitted to Ofcom.

Here's hoping towards a better standard of reporting on videogames by the mainstream press in the future.

Ruaraidh Cresswell

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Fucking hell, some of those NTSC-UK boys come across as hysterical as the bereaved mothers after Columbine.

Anyone who saw the appalling C4 episode of 'Distpatches' a few years ago will realise how poor a programme about videogame violence can be.

The ITV feature was aimed at parents, not twenty and thirty-something gamers. Of course they're not going to go into depth about how GTA is really about exloration and is pushing the boundaries of technology. What kind of parent gives a shit about that?

When the Manhunt debate erupted a couple of months back, the over-riding opinion was that kids shouldn't be allowed to get hold of 18-rated game so easily, and that parents should be informed about the violent nature of some games. That is exactly what the programme addressed. So they used 'sinister' footage and said 'videos' instead of 'videogames' - it's ITV not Newsnight, what do they expect?

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I stumbled across this as well and thought it was mostly OK. I disagree with the complaints about the show completely. Educating parents to the fact that videogame content has the same broad spectrum of maturity as movies is absolutely essential. This show made a genuine attempt to do this. Complaining to OFCOM could well have the effect of scaring broadcasters away from the subject altogether.

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What about those american parents blaming GTA3 for their sons gunning a load of cars. So, the fact dad had a fucking rifle in the house had nothing to do with it then?

Apart from that and the parent of that murdered kid insisting it was all Manhunts fault ( I certainly wouldn't have given her any airtime) it was a well balanced programme. It made me realise just how much of this problem lies with the retailers.

I also thought it was strange that SA wasn't mentioned.

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