The huge popularity of free-to-play battle royale title Fortnite has created the predictable media reaction, with many unfounded claims about screen time, unfettered spending and all wrapped up in the usual ‘won’t anyone think of the children’ moral posturing.
However, The Telegraph’s story yesterday claiming that ‘Fortnite and other video games risk ‘damaging’ children’s lives, Culture Secretary warns’ was particularly galling as Matt Hancock has been a big supporter of the industry for some time.
Looking a little closer though it turned out the minister hadn’t spoken out directly on the subject of the game at all.
Ukie CEO, Dr Jo Twist OBE, responded: "We are disappointed to see some of the mainstream press crassly linking games to a wider comment made by the Culture Secretary Matt Hancock on excessive screen time.
"The enjoyment of playing with friends online, in a balanced and safe way, is part of 21st Century life. There is no conclusive evidence linking games to addiction and it is right that we encourage families and carers to understand how they can balance screen time generally instead of demonising games. Young people and adults alike should enjoy all screen time safely and as part of an active and balanced lifestyle.”
Of course the last time we saw this kind of game bandwagon jumping was last summer’s Pokemon Go, which was then blamed for pretty much every possible societal ill and potential trip, fall or danger of being outdoors in any way – fairly ironic as much of the press spends the rest of its time complaining that kids don’t get outdoors enough.
And it’s not likely to end soon, as Epic Games Tim Sweeney predicts that such ‘serious games’ will dominate the mobile charts from now on.