TO NEWS/POLITICAL DESKS
Two weeks ago Gamers’ Voice announced that we had sent a letter to Channel 5 and Princess Productions, the broadcaster and creators respectively of the morning magazine show, The Wright Stuff. The letter concerned the showing of 18-rated footage from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 before the water-shed and the biased content of the segment‘Do shoot’em up games lead to real violence?’
Gamers’ Voice is pleased to say that Channel 5 is“grateful for the opportunity to respond” to our letter. Caroline Davies, editor of the Wright Stuff and author of the response, addressed many of the issues that were raised about the show being unfair and biased against video games. Caroline defended the Wright Stuff and the opinions given on the show as fair and reasonable with two statements:
“We always make every effort to ensure that discussions on controversial subjects are fair and balanced, and I am happy that we did so on this occasion. We are, however, an open access current affairs discussion programme and are strongly committed to fostering robust debate and the expression of strongly held opinions. We are the only such programme on British television.”
“we always aim for balance but what we will never do is suppress the expression of legitimate and reasonable opinions simply because we disagree with them.”
Gamers’ Voice has never said that the panellists views, such as Anne Diamond, should be suppressed or censored because we disagree with them. Our issue was that, to quote from the original letter:
“the show favoured uninformed statements and sensationalist representation over a balanced look at the issue”
One of the main concerns raised in our letter was the impression that the Wright Stuff blamed video games for the increase in violent crime. More specifically a recent shooting in a pizza parlour in South London, by 22-year old Leon Dunkley, and the lack of emotion he expressed as he carried out the atrocity.
“The perpetrators had joked about‘how she fell’ and many commentators had drawn the obvious parallel with victims of shootings as depicted in game graphics.”
Caroline made no comment on the dismissal of research showing there was no link by Anne Diamond, but did state that:
“Matthew in fact felt they were not the cause. So far as the research is concerned, he repeatedly stressed that this is inconclusive.”
During this episode of the Wright Stuff a clip from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 level‘No Russian’ in which unarmed civilians in an airport are gunned down by the player was shown. Gamers’ Voice queried this, stating it was unsuitable for daytime TV. Caroline responded to this issue by stating that:
“it was essential to use a short clip to illustrate the discussion; many of our viewers are not gamers and it may have been meaningless to them otherwise. It was editorially necessary, but very short, and as you point out, a game image rather than real violence.”
In response, Gamers’ Voice Chairman, Paul Gibson, had this to say
“We are pleased that our letter to Channel 5 has prompted them to perform a review of their broadcast of“the Wright Stuff” on the 14th April 2011. Channel 5 maintains that their coverage was fair and neutral despite the uproar in the gaming community and actions taken by ourselves and CVG. Furthermore, whilst their response puts great emphasis on the experience and‘credibility’ of the panellists by claiming that they are“intelligent and reasonable people” they do not in any way refer to the inflammatory and quite frankly insulting remarks made regarding gamers in general.
Our complaint to OFCOM remains a live issue however, and we look forward to the results of that complaint in due course. Overall we are pleased that Channel 5 have taken our complaint seriously and have performed this review. Even though they do not acknowledge any wrongdoing, we hope that our action will cause the broadcasters and the presenters to carefully consider their statements and subject matter in the future.”
Although we are still waiting for a response from Ofcom concerning the game footage shown in the show, it is good to see that the Wright Stuff has taken our letter seriously, although the letter was mostly defending their choice of panellist and subjects, it is clear that they have looked at the issue of fairness on their show and have taken on board the concerns we have raised.
Gamers’ Voice will continue to pursue unfair or uneducated views against video games and hope this is a step forward towards a fairer portrayal of our hobby in mainstream media.
Notes to Editor
- <*> Gamers' Voice is an independent pressure group representing video and computer gamers in the UK which seeks to act as a conduit to make our voice heard in the government and mainstream media *> <*> In November 2009, Tom Watson MP founded Gamers' Voice on Facebook in order to bring together gamers from across the UK in response to negative articles on gamers in the UK media; Gamers’ Voice has over 16,000 members. Tom Watson does not work directly with Gamers' Voice but is instead run by a Committee of Volunteers.*>