Today, a headline was posted at Kotaku, “Man Solicits 11-Year-Old For Naked Pictures Via PS3.” This headline filled me with a crimson rage. Not because of the reported sexual predator–I celebrate his capture–but of how the story has been covered.
Whenever video game-related tragedies appear in the mainstream media, the journalists in our corner are quick to parrot the story, carrying along the same context in which it was reported. By doing so, they give credence to the mainstream’s sensationalized spin on the story; that video games are an active player in these events. In this case, Kotaku didn’t even bother to quantify the “man” as a “criminal” as ABC News had done.
Obviously, the solution isn’t in sweeping these stories under the rug. We can’t pretend they didn’t happen and since they are relevant to our niche culture, they should be addressed in our own media. It’s the tone that needs to be reevaluated. The mainstream likes to transmit the notion of “Look what video games caused this person to do!” If our journalists are to act as our voice, they shouldn’t confirm this message…they should respond.
If there’s a means for a sexual predator to remotely victimize their prey, they will use it. They do not exclusively subscribe to a single channel; they use whatever is available. This case was just the PS3′s turn.
Instead of the headline above, a more honest way the story could be reported might be “Pedophile Captured By Tracing His PS3 Account”. The same story is told, but with the game console championed by its role, rather than being regarded as an evil-inspiring devil box.
When the mainstream media demonizes video game just for being present for a crime, the community rolls its eyes. We mourn the people who are hurt while laughing at the media’s misinterpretations. But when our own media recites the story in the same light, it only confirms the fears of ignorant parents and makes gamers ashamed of themselves by association.
Way to snub your own reader base, Kotaku.