A wildly misrepresented study could have actually helped raise health awareness instead of fueling flamewars.
A few months ago, a study was published in Pediatrics which pointed to a deficiency of Vitamin D in U.S. children and listed time spent playing videogames and TV watching among many contributing factors. Websites such as Destructoid, Koku Gamer and Gamepolitics all ran with the story as if the lead researcher, Dr. Michal Melamed, had blamed videogames specifically and was writing the paper from an anti-gaming stance. In fact, Melamed said no such thing.
Gamers don’t really have a thick skin when it comes to their hobby being criticized in the press. With attacks from Fox News and the inevitable finger-pointing after every school shooting, it is easy to understand why each perceived attack is immediately rebutted on gaming blogs and websites. The reaction can go too far, however, and as Chris LaVigne explains in issue 227 of The Escapist, over-reacting can be a disservice to the gaming community as a whole.
Gaming media chose not to raise awareness of Melamed’s study among gamers. Those that discussed it did so mostly with scorn, giving the impression that potential health risks associated with gaming should be ridiculed rather than investigated. As many people continue to turn to blogs and specialist websites for their news, those providers may want to re-evaluate their journalistic obligations. With so many devoted readers, a more considered kind of gaming journalism could play an important role in shaping a healthier generation of gamers.
It is important to realize that gamers do not exist in a vacuum and that health and science is not our enemy. In the case outlined above, a simple investigation into the actual study would have prevented the media sensationalism to which our hobby is so often the victim. Read Step Into the Light and let us know how it is sometimes better for games media to help put out fires instead of fanning the flamewars.