Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Letter To The BBC

I emailed this (under my real name) to the BBC Editors' Blog a little earlier.

I am absolutely shocked at the content of your report on the PlayStation 3 game Resistance: Fall Of Man and the Church of England's objections to the representation of Manchester Cathedral. Or, more to the point, the lack of it.
Of course the Church should object to their property or likenesses thereof being used without permission, particularly in the context of gunplay, but you have somehow managed to turn this into an attack piece on videogames in general - constantly prefixing the word 'videogame' with 'violent' (of course it is violent, it is about a war on alien invaders) and presenting no opinions except that which blame computer games for gun crime in Manchester.
I am no journalist but even I am aware that no link between videogames and violence has ever been proven; that the BBFC recently concluded in a report that videogame violence may actually be less harmful than movie violence precisely because of its interactive nature (http://www.mcvuk.com/news/26682/BBFC-to-rethink-age-guidelines); that the BBFC have rated this particular game a 15 and that parents buying it for the children they are so desperate to protect are breaking the law; that videogames like this are clearly aimed at adults, not children, and that the way you cover a subject like this is not with a single strident opinion and emotive language but with the kind of detached fairness the BBC usually applies.
Had this been a minor story it would perhaps not have warranted such use of BBC resources to cover properly and fairly, but as a 'front-page' piece you had a duty to actually *investigate* and *report*, not simply attack. Did anybody think to ask the C of E if they'll be insisting that the numerous Hollywood films with violent scenes in churches be withdrawn?
I find my trust in the BBC shaken by this. Many people who know little of videogames will simply swallow this whole without suspecting they are being given half the story: I begin to wonder how many more significant stories have been slanted this way.
If you cannot find a journalist with any knowledge of videogames, or any evidence that Manchester's gun problem is inspired by first-person shooters, or any respect for the vast majority of people who are able to play games and watch films and read books without turning into rampaging psychopaths, then perhaps you should refrain from covering the subject altogether. I find it embarrassing that I am able to better represent the scope of these issues with five minutes on Google than a professional BBC journalist was.

I have never felt compelled to write to the BBC to complain about the way they handled a piece before. I wonder if they will address my concerns... anyway, at least I've said something rather than just seethe in silence. More people should speak up about such things, I feel, especially licence fee payers.

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