The Game Blame Game

This article was originally posted at my personal homepage. Check out the original version here.  


Lousy cop beat coverage: it's the worst artifact of old-school journalism. A reporter takes a cop or judge's juicy quote when a crime is fresh news, rushes to the editor's desk, and perverts a story to get attention.

Readers don't notice it that often, as we typically don't empathize with alleged one-note perps. But niche audiences sure notice when they get mixed up in criminal blame-games, so we have KOMO-4 News in Seattle, and its recent blast against video games, to thank for such a reporting farce today.

Its opening line:

Detectives investigating the strangulation death of 16-year-old Kimmie Daily are trying to determine whether her accused killer might have been acting out a violent fantasy from Dungeons and Dragons [Online].

Dots are connected: violent crime, video game, official investigation linking the two. The intro does its job, creating instant Internet linkbait: "D&D tied to murder." We have seen this story before.

As the KOMO-4 story continues, it clarifies the intro's use of wimpy modifiers ("trying," "whether," "might"), eventually admitting in the final paragraph that the premise is a lie:

The true cause for this crime is still unknown.  They aren't blaming a game for this violence, but they are trying to understand what triggered this murder and why.

The author took 12 paragraphs to convert from "might have been acting out a violent fantasy" to "not blaming a game." It's not until the near-end of the article, as well, that we see a quote from the aforementioned detective:

"The defendant admitted some kind of connection between the murder and the video game," Lindquist said. "I'm not clear at this point what exactly that connection is. The defendant himself said he went to play video games to forget."

It's a wobbly premise, that a coping mechanism after acting out caused that very action. If you get into an angry argument, then take a long stroll to cool off, do you return home and burn your walking shoes as part of the apology process? No. It's stupid.

KOMO-4 acknowledges no responsibility for common sense in its reporting - no willingness to apply higher-level thinking, because they have a quote! Detectives said it, right? We report, you decide. Lucky us, at least, this old-school journalism disaster has been launched on the Internet, where we can comment, copy+paste, highlight, embolden, and cast doubt. The article's comments section is proof of that.

This article isn't a burden for gamers. Video game fans are no longer the maligned niche of old. Nowadays, shoddy, ancient journalism is.



I'll have some posts up in the near future, I imagine. For now, I'd like to enter my vote for a touch-screen version of Chu Chu Rocket. DS would be ideal, with its combo of d-pad and stylus control. Thank you. -SM