Media Madness Part 1 —œ Introduction
By Daniel Ball
There is growing trend within mainstream media today—presumably when they run out of ‘real news’—to cover the dreaded theory of video game addiction.
These stories, of course, are presented preposterously. A recent promo of a story covering the aforementioned issue had the presenter straight-faced, talking deathly serious, as if to say ‘Don’t laugh. This video game stuff is real and ruining life after life. It an epidemic. We’re all doomed!’
Ok, so it may not have played out exactly like that, not word for word at least, but it might as well have. The dramatic music over the top—reminiscent of one that might have played of a climactic death scene in a movie—played forebodingly in the background, and served the purpose of intensifying the ‘serious’ message. This is about the time I had to refrain from bursting out in laughter.
Hiding my amusement was somewhat of a failure as the people that I was sitting with turned to me and shot me a puzzled look. To them, the message of video game addiction was serious, I suppose, because they weren’t gamers themselves and therefore only had what they had heard in the media to go by.
This is where the first and major problem stems: the media. Take into account the fact that the research gone into video game addiction is sparse and quite vague, sometimes even bordering on pseudo-psychology, bearing no real scientific merit.
Mix that with a T.V. network looking for a ‘controversial’ story and at the end of the day, you’re going to have a sparse, vague, rushed news story, tailored specifically to tug on the heartstrings of mothers everywhere and subsequently make their kids lives a living hell for the next week as video game addiction paranoia takes a hold.
But alas! Most mothers will probably be astounded to find that their child, albeit his love for video games, is quite socially capable, polite, and intelligent. But, how can this be? The media warns us of these ‘gamers’; societies rejects whose lives are consumed by the need (or greed) of more virtual gear for their character, that next level or killing lots of monsters. All these traits coming together resulting into a generally disgusting human being, incapable of anything but gaming and ruining their own lives, as well as the lives of their friends and families, causing breakdowns and huge amounts of distress.
The media paints the worst picture it can of the ‘gamer’, so that you, the laymen/laywomen at home, can firstly: be shocked, and secondly: sympathise or pity the ‘gamer’. But these techniques are simply tools so that the viewer will actually take the story seriously. Hell, the media, in an April Fools stunt in 1957, the BBC managed to convince a good deal of the populace that spaghetti was grown on trees. Sadly, the reports on video game addiction aren’t terrible April Fools jokes.
Using media devices and rhetoric, it quite simple to persuade someone uneducated in the field (of spaghetti, gaming, whatever it may be) into investing their beliefs and opinions into a specific idea through misleading, non-scientific, non-credible or simply deceitful ‘facts’.
Video game addiction has been proposed for the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), though currently remains excluded. The reason: there was not enough evidence regarding the proposed idea being an actual disorder.
So, why then do the media ride their high horse through television-land, preaching the dangers of the video game addiction and pointing a finger of blame?
I honestly hope that the words ‘video game addiction’ never, ever wind up in such a highly respected psychological text.
It is a sad state of affairs when our media cannot be trusted, instead needing to be reviewed and thought about critically with each and every terrible story.
Most gamers can see through the guise of this so-called ‘addiction’; however, to anyone without an understanding of gaming, we gamers lose all credibility as functioning, normal people, instead being stereotyped.
And, if we try to argue the cause to someone who has bought into this hype, are we not seen as simply an addicted person in a stage of constant denial about our ‘problem’?
How are we to argue against ‘the news’, so unquestioned and so unjustly respected?
Again, it is a sad state of affairs.