From the Department of WTF comes word of a panel of British teenagers who – lacking, apparently, the capacity to recognize that grown-ups do not comprehend sarcasm when it comes from kids – claim that the the UK’s recent spate of knife crime is fueled by violent video games. I don’t… even know where to start with this.
Assuming for a moment that these teenagers were not amusing themselves at the expense of the overly dour knife-phobic adults in the room, one must wonder what British kids are thinking… in fact, it kind of disproves in one stroke the whole claim that lots of mackerel is good for the brain.
Oh, we all agree that games should be rated, that the ratings should be prominently displayed, and that many games include content totally inappropriate for young people’s delicate sensibilities. But the games industry has been struggling for the past 30 years to convince the world of something that you’d think would be a foregone conclusion: that there’s not a single shred of real world longitudinal evidence that even suggests that exposure to violent media makes people more violent. Any studies that indicate otherwise are conducted in labs using highly subjective conditions and are often paid for by anti-gaming advocates.
The thing is, I think the games industry assumed that teenagers, British and otherwise, were on their side in this. Teenagers play games. Those who don’t are weird. You’d think that they’d generally consense in the direction of supporting games and not blaming them for stuff. And with the specter of censorship still looming large despite the largely favorable Byron Report and Jack Thompson’s recent ouster, the games industry needs to know that its consumers have its back.
This panel of British teens apparently thinks otherwise, and their unwelcome candor will probably lead to a frenzy of teen-panel-inspired Xbox unplugging by overly concerned parents. So while I really would like to believe that this panel of younglings was just having a laugh, I fear for them and their upcoming Boxing Day. There’re gonna be a lot of Liverpudlian teens getting socks instead of Dead Space for the holiday, and it’s their own damn fault.