Jun 14, 2018

And the Wankley goes to … everyone getting in a tizz about a video game

Crikey's coveted Wankley Award -- which recognises those who go the extra mile to create truly terrible journalism -- goes to everyone tying themselves in a knot about the "dangers" of the latest video-game craze, Fortnite.

Emily Watkins — Media reporter

Emily Watkins

Media reporter

Sometimes the news media goes above and beyond in tarnishing the well-earned disdain many people have for the industry. And Crikey likes to recognise that effort with a coveted Wankley Award. And today, we’re handing out a rare collective award to the tabloid media’s obsession with the damage being done to our children by their obsession with a video game.

With upwards of 125 million players around the world, Fortnite, a cartoonish, multiplayer, online shoot-em-up, is the video game du jour, and it’s been rattling commentators across the media for months now.

In March, The Daily Telegraph was warning parents that the game could turn their kids into addicts. A Current Affair joined in, reporting on the “deadly, serious premise”, and dangers of addiction.

The UK’s Mirror reported this week that a nine-year-old girl had wet herself because she was too addicted to stop playing to use the toilet. That was, predictably, widely picked up and reported around the world, including in Australia.

Yesterday, Nine’s Today program jumped on board, with guest psychologist Sandy Rea quoting “unequivocal research” showing that violent games increased aggressiveness, angry thoughts and aggressive behaviour.

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Today, Daily Telegraph columnist Louise Roberts, in her piece about “outrage” over pictures of Prince George playing with a toy gun, she refers to Fortnite as “spreading like an anger plague through teens in Australia”.

Last week, Fairfax’s Madonna King was stepping up the panic about the game, concerned about how addictive the game was and quoting Canadian game-addiction expert Cam Adair. “This is the teenage boy’s version of the topless selfie, that parents of girls worry about,” she wrote. “But it might even be worse because of the sheer volume of those playing it and its competitive lure, particularly to boys.”

Concern about Fortnite has been bubbling away for months. Seven’s Sunrise has had two goes at covering it, sharing concern about children chatting to strangers online through it, and in April covering it as a “new obsession” for teenagers.

Rea’s claim that there was a lot of evidence linking aggressive behaviour to video games, is disputed. There is also plenty of research that has not found a link between video games and violent behaviour. Indeed, there is some evidence to suggest there are social and developmental benefits to playing video games that require team work, like Fortnite does.

The moral panic over video games is nothing new — in the US, mass shootings are often linked by lawmakers and commentators to playing video games, and the media periodically gets itself into a tizz over popular games. See: Doom, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto.


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4 thoughts on “And the Wankley goes to … everyone getting in a tizz about a video game

  1. Arky

    Just another case of the mainstream media repeating themselves. Violent video games and young people’s music have been annual targets for 25 years (longer, in the case of music).

    The Madonna King piece managed to be sexist in about 3 separate ways even without the astoundingly stupid comparison between boys playing video games and underage girls circulating topless selfies of themselves, as well as being so “Won’t Someone Think Of the CHILDREN?!?!?!” that her byline photo should have been replaced with Maude Flanders.

  2. AR

    How does one go about “..tarnishing the well-earned disdain many people have for the industry“?
    Burnish it perhaps or would that be like polishing a turd?

  3. Dog's Breakfast

    “quoting Canadian game-addiction expert Cam Adair”

    Ha, as if such a creature exists, really! Couldn’t get a quote from a unicorn???

    1. AR

      Could he be related to Red Adair?

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