When it comes to defending the video games industry against negative press, I find it pays to tread carefully. As attested to by the now former South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, citing that his family faced more danger from gamers than from bikers, it’s important that people keep a cool and calm head when defending our beloved past time. To respond to ignorance with chidlsih name calling, threats or dressing up as Pikachu simply works to support the misguided views of the industry’s detractors, doing no favors for anyone looking to support gaming in the face of adversity.
In this case however, I am prepared to make an exception. You’ll have to excuse the rather creatively lacking title for this post, but it’s quite hard to dress up any other way. This really is just 2 stupid people and a gardener talking about games on TV.
Watching people talk absolute bollocks on television is nothing new as I’m sure we’re all aware, particularly when it comes to talking about video games, but rarely must the issue have been dealt with in such an ill thought and careless manner as this.
Airing on March 18th 2010, the eve of the BAFTA awards no less, this particular edition of The Alan Titchmarsh Show challenged to discuss the issue of exposing children to violence in video games. Perhaps we should give the shows producers a round of applause at the very least for coming up with a cutting edge topic of discussion that we’ve never heard before. Yawn.
Taking part in this intellectual debate, which lasted a whole 7 minutes, was the shows host Alan Titchmarsh, a man who made a name for himself in gardening and who has no logical claim to host his own show at all, Julie Peasgood and Kelvin Mackenzie. I’ve got nothing to say about them because I don’t know who they are. Oh, and there was also Tim Ingham, editor of CVG and whose single role in this modern day envisaging of the Salem Witch Trials was to be scorned and ridiculed in line with the show’s agenda.
Without even watching the Youtube footage linked below, I’m sure you can imagine the format for this debacle. Odious soil botherer Titchmarsh reacted to valid and fair points by shrugging, grimacing and doing a weird ET thing with his fingers, whilst Kelvin Mackenzie even managed to cram in a completely unsubstantial and false claim about Jon Venables being “corrupted” by video games. Julie Peasgood went for the more simple angle of appearing the most vocally outraged by the whole scenario, shouting “video games are addictive; they promote hatred, racism, sexism and they reward violence”. Watching the pair exchange talk of dubious “proven” links to examples of violence and video gaming was comparable to watching a battle of the mind and wits between a leek and a garden trowel, which presumably is why Titchmarsh had them on the show in the first place.
In the same week that I’ve completed God of War III, a game about a vengeful warpath in which there’s a lesbian sex sequence and everything you see on screen dies, the only time I’ve wanted to exhibit acts of “hatred”, “sexism” and “violence” was when Julie Peasgood started speaking. What Ms. Peasgood failed to declare during her piece however was that back in 2000, she was involved with a spot of voice acting for the PC and Playstation title Martian Gothic: Unification, which received an ESRB rating of Mature (17+). It truly is amazing what you can conveniently forget when you’ve got an agenda to air. Almost as amazing as how many Ofcom regulations you can breach in the process.
Regardless of your opinion of video games, it would have taken a hard hearted soul to take anything but pity on Tim Ingham. Whilst the circus took swing and the lions (or should that be clowns?) performed, the audience of bored middle-England housewives and Daily Mail readers heckled and hissed at the poor fellow. At one point, Tim was asked if he had children of his own, to which a couple of audience members had the audacity to laugh and chuckle to themselves when Tim responded that he didn’t. Presumably because at that very point, Tim ceased to exist as a human being, instead becoming publicly branded as a stereotype, the archetypal troll sat in his parents basement whittling sticks out of bits of old bed post and reclusing from the outdoors. There’s girls and sunshine and stuff outside. Eww.
It was sadly ironic that whilst uncontrollable anarchy swirled around him, the whipping boy of the piece came across as the most well educated, well reasoned and level headed member of the entire “discussion”. If you could hear him above the jeers, public vilification and Peasgood’s shrieking, or if you could call 7 minutes of being interrupted and shouted down a “discussion”. Fair play to him for that.
As a 23 year old gamer (read: basement dwelling ogre) , I like Tim do not have children of my own as of yet, but this episode of The Alan Titchmarsh Show has already confirmed one thing with regards to how my future child shall be raised. I feel far more comfortable allowing my child to enjoy responsible gaming than I do allowing them to access such reactionary, insular, ignorant, misguided, uninformed and biased “journalism” on daytime TV.