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.
You can find the offending footage here, and can duly complain about it here.
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Mat, I’ve been avoiding watching this because I knew how angry it would make me, but I finally broke down based on your post.
All I can really say is this – applause to Tim Ingham for his politeness and decency while being vilified, as he himself said, as the bad guy in the segment. He behaved in an intellectual and gentlemanly way throughout. He was even able to bring up torture porn, though of course shouted down after doing so.
Now I’m all mad and shit. Excuse me, must go shoot up a school, back soon.
How do television shows get on the air with the premise of topics being discussed by amateurs on the subject? Why don’t you just plop a video camera down beside the campfire and watch my friends and I discuss which is the best Worms game?
Why aren’t there professionals, or people even remotely related to the industry in that discussion, aside from the one fellow defending video games who actually speaks sense?
How are people allowed to pull invented facts out of their ass and get away with it? She should be the one getting ridiculed, not him.
Sigh. Oh, and Steerpike, before you leave don’t forget to pack your portable gaming device and Marilyn Manson CDs! That will make it easier for the police to psychoanalyze you postmortem.
I’m confused. You guys think television producers have actual, real thoughts? This is television. Come on. TV people couldn’t conduct a postmortem on a wadded up bubble gum wrapper. These are the people who got C’s in Communication 101.
@Scout – Producers do have real thoughts. They know how to get reactions, and they know that drama (ie conflict) and the other factors of newsworthiness pull audiences in, and get ratings.
I dare say that more people are watching this clip because of its negative feedback than because of positive feedback. Producers don’t care, as long as people watch it – their job is to get people to watch TV, so that sales departments can sell advertising space. That’s pretty much it. The content doesn’t have to be good, or even accurate, it just has to get attention.
I’d wager that the producers deliberately looked for ig’nant people to host the show, looking for conflict and knowing the reactions they’d get. Producers are very, very cunning and manipulative. And every person watching this clip (or show) only serve to vindicate their decisions.
Great article Mat, it also sent me into a fit of rage at my desk.
What I am more concerned about though is the fact that Alan Titchmarsh actually has his own chat show.
I’m not really a fan of them, they are so dull and repetative and he only serves to make them worse with his waffling. Live from Studio 5 is a brilliant chat show on every evening. It has Ian Wright at the helm, which means its completely un-PC and very close to the knuckle.
I think one of the problems with these supposed ‘discussions’ is that the industry professional, in this case Tim Ingham, just spends most of the time fending off wave after wave of bullshit. Time and time again I hear baseless vitriol spew forth from these irritating cretins yet nobody ever pulls them up on their first hand experience with the very thing they are apparently enraged about. Most of their arguments, ‘facts’ and experiences are Chinese whispers.
I’d bet my right trigger finger that most of these plonkers have not actually played anything beyond fucking Tetris or Wii Sports, perhaps Manhunt and GTA (in the name of research). I’d like to see the industry professional ask if the others had heard of Portal, Peacekeeper or Grim Fandango and whether they’d base their entire world view of literature on The Da Vinci or their entire world view of film on Hostel. Even if everything deteriorated after that at least it might frame their inane contributions. Having said this Tim was deep in hostile territory here, three people against him on stage surrounded by a pack of blinkered fools on ITV. ITV of all channels. The poor bastard didn’t stand a chance.
Incidentally Mat, did you read this truly blinding letter to ITV? Oh and I haven’t watched the video yet. I daren’t for fear of my reaction. Must… resist… grghgh.
It’s frustrating because I was under the impression that the world had sort of moved on from this sort of thing. Naive? Yeah, probably. Thanks to Nintendo, mobile gaming and the rise of Farmville etc on Facbook, I doubt there has been a time where a more diverse range of people have been accessing and playing games regularly. There’s not really any excuse for this kind of ignorance anymore. The gaming industry long since shrugged off the shackles of it’s “nerds in Mom’s basement” image.
Then again, I’m not totally surprised when stories like this do appear. As was very rightly mentioned by Jarrod, this has got people talking. My only fear is that yes, sometimes stories like this are ran for the reactions, but on this particular show aired on this particular broadcaster, with it’s particular time slot and target audience, this isn’t merely a story to cause a fuss. This is a genuine ignorance and misunderstanding of our industry.
This story is a week or so late really because like Matt and Gregg, I’ve attempted to avoid watching this. Particularly with the regards to being mocked about not having any kids, I thought Tim did VERY well to keep his cool. I think that was disgusting and completely indefensible by ITV. Great letter by Sixthaxis, too.
When old generations will fade, videogames will be accepted without problems. We must teach new generations how to game properly and not to fear games because of what their parents-mentors might say, that’s all. My aim is for a future without any fear for games and no mass-market for those who want games only as means to show violence and/or soulles messages.
@Hanamigi: It’s only a matter of time before we’re past this tedious point in the medium’s history. When the current generation of kids are raising their own, well, the little blighters are going to love us:
“Dad! Come and look at this!”
“Super Evolution Solid Gear IV: Return of the Heavy Snake Eater”
“Hrmph! They don’t make games like they used to.”
@ Gregg, there are many people of our generation, our age, totally against games and all they stand for. Sadly as a result this issue won’t ever go away as long a such people filter such views into their future children…
I totally quote Gregg, and that is why I think that we should teach new generation what true gaming is, possibly giving great value to indipendent games because, let’s face it, they are the true frontline of future game design, the opposite of so-called AAA titles such as Assassin’s Creed or CoD, which live on constantly improved and “ultimate” graphics, a pretty false concept since “next-gen” consoles are now almost all 5-years old.
Acceptance will surely come, just look at Wii’s enormous userbase, but if we want it sooner we should work a bit on our sons-brothers-parents-friends etc.
I mean, I QUOTE LEWIS 🙂
Well, it’s Australia. They hate freedom along with, who was it now, the French? Indeed, reading this makes me want to kill people, thus proving that violent video games don’t actually incite violent–talk shows blaming video games for rape and hate crimes incites violence.
Great article, Matt!
Good stuff, Mat. And while I don’t agree with her views, I do love the name: Julie Peasgood. It’s just so damned British.
That was a great letter by Mr. Chapman of thesixthaxis.com.
After watching the youtube video I’d have to categorize it with Game reviewers pretending they know enough about psychology to enter the discussion.
I agree completely with your blog post, but lets face it, we don’t know what the effects are on anyone. Whether you’re biased, delirious or narrow-minded, whether you’re pro or anti “video games”, this is pointless flaming in real life, from both sides as far as I’m concerned; shouldn’t you be above this?
I don’t know, Dai, I think there’s ample evidence that the anti-gaming side rarely takes the time to educate itself on the medium or what it really does before lashing out. Witness a nongaming gardner and two random guests complaining about games; last year’s Fox News Cooper Lawrence vs. Mass Effect travesty; the recent CNN coverage of RapeLay, once again assuming that you can buy the thing at GameStop. Only certain opponents, like Dr. Walsh of NIMF, have ever made much effort to have dialogue and understanding.
As to the effects on anyone, maybe we don’t know precisely what the effects will be, but we can look at history and judge pretty well: many including myself have been playing violent video games since we were five years old and we’re fine. Well-adjusted, well-parented young people given appropriate access to appropriate games for their age group don’t appear harmed by them. That’s not a study talking, it’s 35 years of history.
But in any case I don’t see it as flaming, and I certainly disagree that keeping quiet about such attacks is the right approach. The comics industry tried that in the U.S. in the 40s and 50s; the results were not pretty.
With all due respect Dai, I don’t think anybody here has pretended to know anything about psychology and the link between gaming and violence. If the piece had said “there is no link between games and violence”, in the same way that Peasgood said there was on the show, then fair enough, but nobody has said that. Right now, I’m not convinced that there is genuine proof to support either argument, which is why as the writer of this particular piece I’ve avoided making statement to that effect in a public domain. Unlike the people involved on The Alan Titchmarsh Show, who’se audience outweighs Tap Repeatedly’s, and who appeared to show little regard for casually throwing around such claims with no evidence to support their claims (which is actually in breach of the Ofcom regulations).
Thought I’d resurrect this. [/gravedigger]
Just been watching The One Show on BBC1. The main guest was.. yes, you guessed it, Mr. Alan Titchmarsh. Speaking about the differences between his childhood and the childhood of youngsters today, he declared that he wished children would run out into the woods and collect flowers to stamp in a book, rather than “collect Space Invaders cards”.
A couple of issues:
1.) Stamping flowers in a book? Really?
2.) Space Invaders cards? Do these exist?
3.) If Space Invaders, a now 32 year old franchise, is Mr. Titchmarsh’s perception of modern entrainment, then perhaps that tells us everything we need to know about his position to comment on video games.
4.) WHERE CAN I BUY SOME SPACE INVADERS CARDS?!?
What is it about people who so want to disapprove of something that they get all… shrill and stupid? I mean, does he really care that much? If so, why? If not, why make such a scene about it?
Also: stamping flowers in a book? Really?
Of course, when we’re his age, we’ll say something like that and someone OUR age will say “What is a book? And what is a flower?”
And we’ll be off on a holoTV crusade to put an end to the children of 2057 binge-loading neuraplant tetrasims. “I remember when I was a child I just collected Space Invaders cards,” Mat’ll say sadly to the interviewer. “Why can’t kids do that?”
And the kids will be, like, “why would we collect trading cards of our Xxall-thron i’kkikk overlords?”
I just don’t get why people who have no reason to give a damn about what others do get so hot and bothered about what others do.
If some people didn’t appear ignorant, than we’d have no yardstick to judge the enlightened by.
Let’s just wave and smile at the silly man, and remember that failure to adapt to the present and future leads to extinction.
Maybe he’s talking about Space Invaders JAMMA cards or something? If they have collector’s cards, I’m right after you in line, Mat.
[…] article I thrashed out for BNBGAMING’s partners Tap Repeatedly in response to the ridiculous Alan Titchmarsh Show “debate” on this very subject. This is a road well travelled for many of us, and if you’re anything like […]