The Guardian: Non-gaming kids are ‘deprived’

The Guardian newspaper has defended the video games industry on its opinion pages – in an article that suggests children whose parents stop them playing games are ‘deprived’.

The piece, penned by games writer Naomi Alderman, begins with a reference to the banning of Eidos’ Kane & Lynch advertising by the ASA.

Alderman goes on to damn the idea of a ‘shared’ games space for the whole family – as suggested by Dr Tanya Byron in her recent Review – but calls Byron’s report ‘eminently sensible’.

She also sticks up for Rockstar in the piece, which carries the headline of: ‘If we deny children access to all computer games, we deprive them of a rich and magical experience’

She writes:

The world of Grand Theft Auto does contain violence and misogyny; but then, so does The Godfather, or Goodfellas. So, for that matter, does The Iliad. GTA3 is set in a tough, dangerous world. Johnson is trying to clean up his neighbourhood.

‘But as a dispossessed, orphaned young black man, he has no option but to re-form his neighbourhood gang to do so. The makers of this game, like the makers of any movie about gangland, can stand squarely behind the art they have created and say: this represents reality. If it offends you, don’t criticise the art, but take action to improve the world around you.’

The opinion piece will no doubt be welcomed by the industry, which has had to put up with post-Byron attacks from the likes of The Daily Mail, The Times and The Daily Telegraph – as well as an anonymous newspaper offering readers cash to tell their stories of how games turned them to crime.

In The Guardian piece, Alderman also calls on parents to use games to get closer to their kids, adding:

‘… just as a responsible parent wouldn’t hand their child a copy of American Psycho or sit them down in front of Marathon Man without any further discussion or comment, games can and should be part of the ongoing conversation between parents and children about the world.’

‘Computer games can be works of art and literature – they’re still developing. The stories they can tell, and the experiences they provide, are increasingly sophisticated and glorious. And that, of course, is the point.

‘The world that today’s 10-year-olds grow into will offer so many rich experiences via video games: the real neglect would be to deny our children the opportunity to understand and enjoy them.’

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