Yesterday the newspaper The country published an article under the title “Samuel case: a collective slaughter like those studied in chimpanzees and fed with Fortnite.” Several experts who gave their opinion participated in it, such as Manuel Isorna, doctor in Psychology and professor of the Psychosocio-educational analysis and intervention department of the University of Vigo, and the criminologist and judicial expert from A Coruña Luis Alamancos. The attribution of each of the statements is not very clear in the article, but both exhibit an evident degree of alarm at the drift of the Spanish youth. They propose many culprits of collective debasement, among which are, of course, video games. Specifically the Fortnite, the free game from Epic Games that has more than 350 million players around the world.
That we are embroiled in a permanent intergenerational war should not surprise anyone. It is only necessary to see how young people are being massively blamed for the dramatic rise in the incidence accumulated in the last week, using data that is absolutely biased by the vaccination strategy that our country has adopted. Beyond the young people wanting to party, it is clear that they will be the ones who are going to be infected if they are the only ones who are not yet vaccinated. However, this circumstance is not an obstacle to the anger of public opinion being directed against them. It is the law of life, and in the world of culture, a dialectic that always returns. Moral panic spreads over something that is not understood and sins are threaded into the scapegoat’s fur, grooming him for execution. Everything new is scandalous, and if the Judas Priests were brought to trial for instigating the suicide of two teenagers with their songs, we cannot be surprised that the same energies are directed towards video games, even more unknowable than heavy metal for the champions of public morality. The problem is that we are no longer in the nineties, when the patriotic yellows decided to blame Final Fantasy VIII (an adolescent and nerdy game where they exist) of the actions of the katana assassin. Video games are no longer a niche activity. The influencers, as much as it may weigh us, they have weight. And they stir.
Many of the statements collected by the experts involved in the article there is nowhere to take them and they show a total ignorance of the reality they are vilifying. To say that Fortnite is “hyperviolent” is not knowing how to use the Spanish lexicon. To say that now there are no filters when there were two diamonds before (which gives us an idea of the references it uses) is to lie or ignore the ubiquitous PEGI code, so ubiquitous that it is impossible to ignore. To say that Alberto Garzón, Minister of Consumption, warns about the consumption of meat but does not “do anything against these multinational gaming companies” is to lie again or to ignore the many times that he has protested against questionable practices of the industry such as the use of loot boxes. I will not be the one to defend the head of the United Left, but to say that he has not even raised the issue is to be untrue. At one point, it was even said that “99% of video games consist of killing, kicking, popping, murdering …”. The country later he changed the absurd percentage to “Lots of hot video games.” According to data from the Spanish Association of Videogames, in June 2021 the best-selling games were: FIFA 21, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Grand Theft Auto V, NBA 2K21, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’d Fury, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition, FIFA 21 again (for Switch) and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, in that order. All with a PEGI code of +3 or +7, except GTA V, which is +18.
Everyone is within their rights to speak nonsense. When you collect them as a medium, as a journalist, and give the author of these statements a loudspeaker, you have, at least, to contrast them a minimum. How can it be that a prestigious media assumes them without opposing any type of scientific literature or any data that supports such serious assertions? Doesn’t the newspaper count on people who know the subject among its ranks to sound the alarm? Yes of course! Both journalists on staff and regular collaborators, very valid people who could have provided them with the necessary context to understand the degree of prejudiced stupidity that he was turning to the article without any kind of counterweight or healthy skepticism, tacitly accepting as certainties a lot of falsehoods, malicious inaccuracies and apocalyptic slogans without any route. When the networks shouted in the sky throughout the day, the newspaper agreed to modify the tendentious headline and some details, but did not expand the article in a meaningful way so as not to fuel so much nonsense.
During these months of pandemic, few words have been used as much as that of “expert”. The government has shielded itself in it to present its policies as if they were homologated by a kind of objective authority, beyond all criticism and that should be accepted as a papal dogma, infallible when speaking ex cathedra. It seems as if having a Ph.D. or a bombastic degree automatically turns you into a Renaissance sage, knowledgeable of all human realities, and exempts you from being wrong or from blundering to the hock. Precisely the work of the journalist implies opposing the speeches to be able to put them in value and Do not be afraid of arguments of authority that are empty and lacking in content.
Video games are a complex subject, exciting as well as full of dangers. It is a medium full of great creatives, but commanded by technology companies with a disturbing commercial voracity. There are many, many things to criticize in this area, and the gaming communities have developed a healthy skepticism towards everything that comes from these companies, although they are often shaken by the beefy tentacles of marketing. Criticism is welcome. Nevertheless, when the same rash, fallacious, old and blessed arguments are emphasized over and over again; any possible debate ends on the floor, stances fester and pikes come out. The Fortnite He can be criticized for many things (cultural appropriation, microtransaction policy, social hierarchy based on skins, etc.) but he cannot be held responsible, blaming him in a tortuous way, for the murder of Samuel Luiz. It is time to raise the discourse and demand in the media coverage of such relevant issues.