The Needles

The Needles
The Big Lie of Brandon Crisp

Andy Chalk | 10 Mar 2009 21:00
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"But what happens when all that marketing money reaches into our children's bedrooms, hands them a sniper rifle and an assassin's mission, and promises fame and fortune to those who kill their way to the top?" she continued. "The family of Brandon Crisp found out the hard way."

It wasn't easy but I watched the entire show and you should, too. Not because there's an ounce of journalistic value to it but because this sort of damaging nonsense is being fed to a viewing public that in many cases will swallow it whole unless other people take the initiative to counter the half-truths and misleading statements with facts. Calling this show biased is like calling water wet; the interviewer is eager to swallow the facts as offered by some of her guests, like Crisp's supposed "best friend" (who oddly keeps referring to him as a "nice kid"), a self-professed former gaming addict or National Institute on Media and the Family founder Dr. David Walsh, but her interviews with industry representatives don't go quite as smoothly.

For example, when she claimed retailers don't have signs warning that many videogames are inappropriate for young children, Entertainment Software Association of Canada Director Danielle LaBossiere pointed out that all games sold in Canada are plainly labeled with ESRB stickers, which anyone who's ever actually looked at a game box will know include not only age ratings but descriptions of the game's potentially inappropriate content. But the facts are apparently irrelevant; the interviewer, having obviously already made up her mind, reiterated her claim that these aren't really "warnings," then quickly moved on to another subject. And while she grudgingly accepted that Major League Gaming tournaments require signed parental consent forms for competitors under the age of 16, MLG CEO Matthew Bromberg's suggestion that parents, rather than himself, would be more appropriate for determining what kids are allowed to play is treated like a cheap excuse for the industry's irresponsibility.

Where is this kind of Enquirer-level garbage journalism coming from? My guess is that it's the same sort of thickheadedness that led to the Fox News/Mass Effect debacle in early 2008: A belief that demonizing videogames is not only good for ratings but also the sort of indiscriminate headline-grabbing attack that can be made with impunity because videogamers are either kids or weirdos. We don't matter.

I'd like to demonstrate that we do matter. I'd like the fifth estate to hear from gamers, not just Canadian gamers but anyone from any country who feels insulted by this investigative bottom-feeding. Comments can be sent to the show at the CBC's fifth estate website, so drop them a line. Leave the bad language at home but be firm and be clear: The videogame industry has been more active and more successful in keeping inappropriate content out of the hands of children than any other entertainment medium in history. Claiming that some kind of Joe Camel-style campaign is underway to hook kids on the brainsmack of horrifically violent videogames is not just wrong but deceitful, and no longer something that gamers - job-holding, tax-paying, socially well-adjusted and all-around dreadfully normal gamers - are willing to quietly tolerate.

Andy Chalk wonders why the fifth estate didn't do an in-depth report about parents who let their young teenage children play M-rated videogames unsupervised in their bedrooms.

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