Watson: Panorama addiction doc "anachronistic and inaccurate"

MP blasts BBC documentary as "hackneyed"

MP for Bromwich East Tom Watson has labelled the Panorama special on games 'addiction' as anachronistic and inaccurate.

Speaking to last week, Watson revealed his disappointment that the program's makers had not sought to present a more balanced picture by speaking to people who were making lives better with games and gaming, instead choosing to focus on the perceived negative aspects of the medium.

"It was a heavily editorialised piece," said Watson of the documentary. "I wish they'd reached out a little bit more to talk to other people. They could have talked to some of the people who are doing very positive things with games - they could have talked to Graham Brown-Martin, he could have put them in touch with some of the greatest teachers in the country who are capturing the imagination of young people every day using off-the-shelf game packages.

"It's a pity that they rehearsed a quite hackneyed mantra really about games doing bad things for children. We know that, in life, anything done to excess can have a downside. No-one seriously disagrees with that. But to try and project the games industry as trying to deliberately deprive people of sleep, money, time, work and social contact is basically anachronistic and inaccurate."

The documentary, which dealt with a number of children and young adults who were perceived as having been damaged somehow by excessive use of games, aroused widespread contempt from industry figures when it aired earlier this month. spoke to the program's director Emeka Onono to gauge his thoughts on the show's reception.

Watson is a keen proponent of the games industry in parliament, vocally supporting industry tax breaks and promoting games to the parliamentary agenda. Read the rest of our exclusive interview with him on the front page today.

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Latest comments (19)

Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College7 years ago
Panarama has lost all credibility after this for me.

Surely it should have been a two parter, one for negatives and one for positives or even combine them into a 1hr special showing the flip side to either extremity as opposed to a biased and worst case scenarios painting video games as the Devil.
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Jordan Woodward Level Designer, Rebellion Developments7 years ago
Not a bad idea Kevin, it's a shame they didn't do that actually. I wouldn't be so annoyed with the show if they had done a two parter.
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Charlie Moritz Studying Philosophy with Psychology, University of Warwick7 years ago
What disappoints me most about the show was that they tried so hard to demonise videogaming down to the very language that they used. For one of the kids they said he had been struggling with his demons (by which they mean playing videogames) for years. I don't know about the rest of the community, but I could swear that struggling with demons was the coolest thing about some games.

I saw the program and wrote a piece about this for my blog: [link url=

Please take a look at my post where I dismantle the arguments of the extremely biased and logically flawed Panorama show. Gaming isn't just a hobby, that much is true. For me it is a big part of my identity - I define myself in some situations as a gamer, a hardcore gamer. But blaming the games and the developers for what people attach such significance to is absurd.
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Show all comments (19)
John Donnelly Quality Assurance 7 years ago
I hope these comments make it in to some of the print media and not just make it to industry sites.
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Julian Toseland games podcaster/website 7 years ago
said exactly this on my podcast this week,

To be honest the show didnt show anything I was not expecting to be there, of course they wheel out the most lets say "game" looking players they can find, also show the worst case scenario happenings to.

A mess to be honest, and the sheer fact alone it didnt even give a balanced view is just to one sided to give it any credit at all.

The best part for me, was the absolute comical way they presented it at the start..."cue deep film voice", Tonight on panorama, we present the addiction that is gaming" funny for words, along with the rediculous canned "keyboard clicks" all through.

Come on BBC lets have a more Balanced view, at least then you may come out of it with an ounce of credibility.
God help them when the "next" generation of politicians will be hard core gamers, then what.....


cranky gamers UK

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Julian Toseland on 13th December 2010 3:54pm

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Nick Gunn 3D Artist 7 years ago
I haven't seen the program, and from what I've heard about it, I don't think I'll bother. Unfortunately the program did spur the Daily Mail (I don't read it) to create an article painting games as dangerous and addictive to the youth of today. Not sure if it made it to any other major papers. To be honest I would expect nothing less from the fear-mongering Daily Mail, but it just shows how these programs can spread throughout the media so easily, and be placed in front of the faces of worried parents.
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Richard Pattie Critic/Writer 7 years ago
The issue for me is that I thought we were past this way of thinking. The views of the program reminded me of the sort of reaction an uneducated parent may have had in the early nineties, but to think that license payer money went to produce such a one sided, unfair and nigh on ridiculous piece of programming in this day and age is outrageous.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 7 years ago
My issue isn't Panorama highlighting an issue, it's the nature of how they did it.

They were clearly biased in the way they did the show, everything from the way they focused it to the way they filmed it.
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Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd7 years ago
It's nice to see positive and supportive noises from parliament, first from Ed Vaisey and now Tom Watson.

Getting support from 2 out of 3 of the major parties is very welcome and a nice indication that the message is starting to get through about the industry.

A lot of the press around games may centre around the fact that games is a massive industry. I think we do need to push the fact that while some publishers like EA and ActiBlizz are huge, multinational corporations most developers are small to medium sized businesses with small but dedicated teams (many of the bigger name Devs like Avalanche are still less than 100 people) who just like seeing people have fun and can be incredibly vulnerable to changes in the economy.

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Thom Kozik President, Context Digital Media7 years ago
Panorama got **exactly** what they were looking for... a large number of people talking about the show. Content is irrelevant... Buzz is the currency of the realm.
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James Finlan Studying Information Systems, University of Manchester7 years ago
Panorama is rapidly becoming 'The Daily Mail' of British television news journalism. Week after week the show becomes less professional and more like FOX News where sensationalism is given far more airtime than actual scandal.
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Tony Johns7 years ago
At least a politician is standing up for the games industry.

I have seen allot of times when so many politicians would jump in and blame games for almost everything.

At least this not as bad as what it was in 2005 or 2007 for that matter.
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Russell Watson Senior Designer, Born Ready Games7 years ago
I watched this last night on BBC iplayer, I have to admit the whole thing was farcical at best. The presenter(?)/investigator(?)/journalist-desparate-for-a-break? was clutching at straws the entire program. I thought it was humourous that at the points in which he was essentially called out on the fact that there was no evidence to support his position the only retort he could offer was to cut to a sensationlist anecdote.

I wont even start on the nonsense with the students and self-proclaimed addicts.
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Stephen Page journalist 7 years ago
The BBC have increasingly lost touch with the British public over the last twelve years.
They (the BBC) have broken their charter on occasions too numerous to mention;bias being one.
The BBC's slavish obedience to all things politically correct while arrogantly ignoring the views of the majority is nauseating, this ideological blinkered point of view condemns us all to being the unwilling adherents to their infamy.

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Thomas Eley Studying Computer Games Development, University of the West of Scotland7 years ago
Ten minutes into the show and I wasn't surprised in the slightest that they were being so one sided with it. It just reminded me of the Alan Titchmarch nonsense before. The media will only want to scare monger regardless of any positive contributions a subject provides. It is a sad thought to say the least.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Thomas Eley on 14th December 2010 2:43pm

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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up7 years ago
All fair comments, but.....

games are a widespread medium these days. If theres any damage done, its to the credibility of the program makers themselves. People are more sensible in the real world, and Ive not heard of a single person outside of the industry talking about it, or anything negative about games.

That is all :)
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Luke McCarthy Indie Game Developer 7 years ago
Not really surprising, the BBC are specialists in peddling disinformation and propaganda.
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JJ Studying Digital Media & Multimedia Technology, London Metropolitan University7 years ago

You are completely correct with your comment, and I shared the same opinion when I watched the episode.
I see video games as a form of art, where many have shown their creativity and hard work.

@ Everyone

My overall reaction to the show is disgust by the BBC for allowing such a biased story to be publicised, though smartly done, it's only created more opposition to the BBC.

The people interviewed (who obviously lacked will power), are just victims of bad / no parenting with their being no real disciplin in the home. The kid who couldn't get on WoW was a prime example with his parents placing blame not on themselves, but the game.

All publicity is good publicity and it only left the three letters, "B B C" floting around in our minds even more. Watching this episode only fueld my intentions to get into the industry even more, hopefully in the future I'll be able to make change to peoples perceptions on video games.

Just keep tabs on how the medium of games are being used in educational establishments to teach children. I think they should do the same in the workplace to teach parents how to stand up to and raise their children.
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Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd7 years ago
@Tony Tom Watson was the Minister responsible for Digital Media with the last government. It's worth remember that Ed Vaisey the current Minister for Culture, Media & Sport is also a supporter of the industry as well.

Things are coming round slowly but surely but as an industry there is more that we can do in the UK to let people know about all the good we're doing. IIRC NHS PCTs are actively looking into schemes promoting the use of games like EA Active as well as Social Networking to help encourage people into taking regular exercise, and engage with generations they feel may have been disenfranchised by existing health campaigns. :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alex Loffstadt on 16th December 2010 1:03pm

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