Thursday, September 22, 2011

They're at it AGAIN!

As gamers, we are somewhat used to the ridiculous musings of journalists who seem to think that our hobby is not just fair game to be the blame for the ills of an entire world, but also as a convenient hanging post for whatever nonsense they feel fit to print at any given time. Maybe they think we are easy targets, or that perhaps we can't read, but whatever the cause it is clear that print journalists can not resist writing the kind of incomprehensible garbage that could only make sense in the mind of someone who has spent the last few years trying to find proof of terrorist events in their breakfast cereal.

Today, I came across a piece so astonishingly inane that it literally beggars belief that anybody could find the time to attempt to justify it. Ordinarily, I just shrug my shoulders and laugh them off. After all, we have seen various forms of entertainment blasted as being the works of Satan himself down the years, with videogames simply being the most recent magnet for hatred. The Daily Mail is infamous in the UK for their hatred of all things videogame.

But, a new low has been reached. A piece so mind-bendingly ... I was about to hesitate to use the word "stupid" but I don't know why, for "stupid" is the only word that fits ... so unimaginably stupid that I can only assume that the authors cornflakes were laced with hallucinogenic cocktails that he accidentally inhaled whilst searching for Bin Laden amongst them. The kind of piece that needs to be singled out as the WORST VIDEOGAME STORY OF ALL TIME. And it was not even in the Daily Mail! Nope, this missive was to be found on page 7 of the Metro newspaper, a free newspaper handed out to commuters in all the major cities.

It is entitled Gamers 'can't tell real world from fantasy', written by one Fred Attewill, and centres around a study apparently undertaken at Nottingham Trent University. The opening paragraph sets the tone, and I reproduce it here unedited. (The piece is actually so short that I could probably just type it out in its entirety, but I do not wish to sully my blog any more than I have to with this one.)

"HARDCORE gamers become so immersed in virtual worlds that they turn to imaginary consoles to 'zoom in' to people in crowds or to pick things up from the floor."

Read that again, because I promise you I am not even paraphrasing.

"A study of 42 gamers aged 15 to 21 who played for at least ten hours a week revealed that most have experienced 'games transfer phenomena' - doing or thinking things in real life as if they were still in a fantasy environment.

Researchers from Nottingham Trent university (his choice to not capitalise, not mine) said gamers sometimes use reflex actions instinctively picked up over hours in front of the screen."

In other words, some teenagers have wanted to do the things they have done in a game in real life. Which, apparently, is a terrible thing. Because, nobody ever tried to use the Force. No Harry Potter reader even tried to use "Accio" on anything. And nobody has ever played the Air Guitar. Nope, this kind of thing only happens to people who play videogames. Those poor fools, do they not know how their enjoyment is tragic?

Also, and this may be pedantic, but to criticise for using reflex actions instinctively ... I'd like to know how many other ways of using reflex actions there are? Perhaps Mr Attewill plans his reflex actions. If so, I wonder if he can teach the rest of us to OVERCOME THIS BASIC AND UNAVOIDABLE ACTIVITY, which is by very definition an action performed without conscious thought.

"One 15-year old named Simon admitted wanting to use a 'gravity gun' from the game Half Life to fetch something from the fridge."

Well, apart from not giving it the correct name of Zero-Point Energy Field Manipulator, the main mistake with this sentence would have to be - what exactly is the problem here? CALL THE COPS! Some kid likes the idea behind the Gravity Gun! Know something? I am 41 years old, and I would gladly sacrifice one of my testes to have an actual Gravity Gun. Anybody who has seen that weapon and has even one gram of joy in their soul would simply love a Gravity Gun. After the Portal Gun, it would simply be the most useful and awe-inspiring tool that humanity would ever have access to. If you DON'T want one, there is something wrong with you. Imagine the fun possible? Imagine the potential for scientific achievment?

"Another gamer, Milton, 19, said when he dropped a sandwich after playing Prince of Persia: Sands of Time his finger 'twitched' as he tried to revive it with his console."

This poor adolescent is so deluded by his years of playing games that he has even wished he could turn back time to undo a mistake. Surely no normal and sane human has ever had such thoughts?

I could go on, but I really don't want to. Besides which, you can see the "story" yourself by going to the e-edition of the paper. In an age where terrible journalism is rampant, I think we have found a new prize-winner for the accolade of "World's Most Massive Wanker." The guy actually gets paid to come up with stuff like this! But, what can we do about it?

If only he had a twitter account on which we could tell him what we think of him. If only the Metro had a contact section where we could tell them what we think of both Mr. Attewill and this particular article. Whilst I am sure that my small readership would never consider any kind of retaliatory actions, none of which I would condone should they surface, I am also aware that the internet does home plenty of people who may well want to express their distaste in ways which are alien to me. It is therefore to be hoped that this information does not find its way to those less savoury areas of the web that may well take offence to what has been written.

If only we didn't have to constantly put up with this bullshit. I, for one, am tired of it.


  1. I once got on a bus and accidentally asked the driver for a single to Bastok instead of the city centre. True story. (Bastok is a city in Final Fantasy XI).

    There's no real harm in games transfer phenomena, it can even be educational, e.g. whenever my daughter is a passenger in the car I get her to keep score each time I run over a cyclist.

  2. Thus teaching her the values of mathematics as well as road safety at the same time. And, perhaps instilling some determination and ambition into her because once she drives herself I am sure she will be aiming to beat your scores.

  3. Exactly! She's a chip off the old block. Anyway, the upshot of it is that at least we're not under the delusion of being a journalist, which is probably a lot more serious. I tweeted him my shrink's number just in case.