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Boris Johnson slams videogames

Fri 05 Jan 2007 11:51am GMT / 6:51am EST / 3:51am PST

Outspoken Tory MP Boris Johnson has declared that it's time to "garotte the Game Boy and paralyse the PlayStation", blaming falling literacy rates on the rise of videogames.

Outspoken Tory MP Boris Johnson has declared that it's time to "garotte the Game Boy and paralyse the PlayStation", blaming falling literacy rates on the rise of videogames.

In a recent opinion piece for The Telegraph, Johnson wrote, "Millions of seven to 15 year olds are hooked, especially boys, and it is time someone had the guts to stand up, cross the room and just say no to Nintendo.

"It is about time, as a society, that we admitted the catastrophic effect these blasted gizmos are having on the literacy and the prospects of young males."

According to Johnson, less and less children are enjoying reading and more and more students are arriving at university without adequate writing skills. He added, "I refuse to believe that these hypnotic little machines are innocent."

Johnson went on to quote figures stating that the number of computer games per household is higher for Britain than for any other EU country, and that 89 per cent of UK households with children own a console.

"These possessions are not so much an index of wealth as a cause of ignorance and underachievement and, yes, poverty," he continued.

"The nippers are bleeping and zapping in speechless rapture, their passive faces washed in explosions and gore. They sit for so long that their souls seem to have been sucked down the cathode ray tube.

"They become like blinking lizards, motionless, absorbed, only the twitching of their hands showing they are still conscious. These machines teach them nothing. They stimulate no ratiocination, discovery or feat of memory."

Although Johnson is not a regular commentator on videogames, he is well known in Britain for his controversial opinions on a wide range of topics. He has hit the headlines for describing George W. Bush as "a cross-eyed Texan warmonger" and Tony Blair as "a mixture of Harry Houdini and a greased piglet", and last year angered the embassy of Papua New Guinea by referring to "orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing".

He has become something of a cult figure in the UK, with some fans calling for him to become Prime Minister - but according to Johnson, there is as much chance of this happening as "my being reincarnated as an olive".

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