Friday, 26 March 2010

Have I fallen out of touch with mainstream media?

When I came to university three years ago, I moved into a flat where the only TV was in the dining room/ kitchen, a room without sofas. It wasn't a big deal really, I missed crashing on the sofa when I was tired, but anyone who spends their first year of university watching TV is missing out.
The next year, I moved out and into a new flat, fully furnished with a separate living room (albeit without and heating), but it never got used. The only things anyone ever watched were Top Gear and sports. TV on demand is so much better in so many ways to living by TV scheduling. Not only can you watch what you want, when you want, but you spend less time watching TV in general. I'd love to say that these new found hours get spent doing more work and expanding my mind in general but theres just far more fun things to do with my time.
Apart from something to watch while eating dinner sometimes, or a film every now and again, its pretty true to say that I watch no broadcast TV whatsoever, I watch iPlayer, 4OD and I watch Lost and Fringe by downloading it and watching it when I want. I suspect I'm not alone here, TV andvertising budgets are shrinking along with their viewing figures for years. Headlines regularly suggest that ITV is fucked although it seems to struggle on, mostly on the back of a few big reality shows.

But recently I saw a video which has been circulating on the internet from The Alan Titchmarsh Show of all things. I've embedded the video below but I'll give you a brief overview of the show. Its that same argument people have been making since columbine, that kids play games then shoot people in real life. In fact, its the same argument we've been hearing since rock and roll was accused of taking our children's innocence away. The problem that I had with it was that Tim Ingham, editor at CVG and the guy brought in to argue for games. He was the only one willing to have a discussion, he said that kids shouldn't be playing adult games and that not only are they legally unable to buy them, but due to the new features in modern games consoles, parents can stop their kids playing age rated games they may have got hold of, without a password. Spot on Ingham, how could you possibly argue that non-violent games are fun in moderation and that kids shouldn't be playing age rated games and that parents should be aware of the content of adult games. He also suggested that violent games are no worse than hardcore pornography and violent films, which kids do have access to, more so than ever before.
But, and heres where I got angry, and frankly disillusioned with humanity in general. Not only were the rest of the guests completely unwilling to have an intelligent debate about the validity of games as art, but the crowd were unwilling to listen. The sheer idiocy of refusing to listen to someone who you disagree with without yelling boo at them so they cant finish their point is so upsetting to me that it worries me about what kind of people actually watch TV. Is this kind of thing really acceptable to the people that haven't migrated from TV to the internet for the bulk of their entertainment? Bear in mind that this is a show on at around 5, thats the beginning of prime time, and its the kind of show intended to appeal to parents. Parents need a balanced view of this sort of thing if they are to make reasonable decisions rather than "no you cant play games with your friends online, you must sit in front of the idiot box and watch good old Alan murder the art of conversation.
Now on the plus side spawned outcry on the internet where us gamers spend our time in between all the murders we're committing and all of the time we spend encouraging children to consume adult orientated content (although that does beg the question, who was watching this drivel in the first place).
There is intelligent TV on this subject, take Charlie Brooker's Gameswipe, which takes a balanced outlook on games. But this kind of stuff is pushed onto BBC4 late at night, where no-one will see it. The fact that the balanced discussion on topics like this is produced is in a way even worse because it means that commercial forces mean that the bilge makes its way to primetime because thats what viewers want to see. its the same reason the X Factor is primetime, but Jools Holland is relegated to late at night.

Oh, and it turns out the idiot shouting woman voice-acted in a horror game called Martian Gothic. Just in case the story wasn't ludicrous enough for you.

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