Gamers' Voice files formal complaint with Channel 5

The Wright Stuff comes under fire from consumer group over violent game discussion

UK consumer group Gamers' Voice has filed an official complaint with Channel 5 over as episode of chat show The Wright Stuff in which violent video games were under discussion - specifically linking them to the shooting of a London teenager.

The show aired on Thursday 14 April and was centred on the possible reasons behind the shooting of Agnes Sina-Inakoju by Leon Dunkley and Mohammed Smoured, who have now been convicted and jailed for the crime.

The pair are members of the notorious London Fields gang responsible for many other violent attacks, including the stabbing of 14 year old Shaquille Smith in 2009.

During the broadcast, host and panel members speculated on whether violent games could have been a significant factor in the boys' behaviour, with Anne Diamond one of the more vociferous voices present. As an illustration of how violent video games can be, the show aired footage of 18-rated Modern Warfare 2's infamous "No Russian" level at 10:30 am - well before the watershed.

Gamers' Voice not only feel that the context and discussion was poorly balanced and argued, but that the airing of unsuitable material before the watershed constitutes a violation of broadcast rules.

"It's nothing new that TV loves to sensationalise gamers and shooters," reads a statement on the group's website.

"Instead of trying to learn and educate themselves as to why people commit horrific crimes, TV loves to target gaming. Gaming is easy to attack and it seems that it can conveniently 'explain the increase violent behaviour'.

"In the episode of the 'Wright Stuff' that was aired on Channel 5 on Thursday 14th April, they discussed the alleged causal link between video games and violent behaviour. In particular, they focussed on the detached way that 22-year-old Leon Dunkley drew a sub-machine gun and killed customers in a London pizza parlour.

"Instead of talking about possible the social, mental or economic problems that could have driven Dunkley to kill, the Wright stuff went straight to what must be the cause for the problem. It wasn't gang culture which puts perceived respect above regard for human life, no, it's first person shooters that are responsible.

"What was even more shocking was that during the introduction to the discussion, they showed scenes from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Specifically the infamous level 'No Russian' where the play can gun down unarmed civilians, if they so choose. So apparently at 10.30 in the morning during the school holidays, it's fine to show scenes from an 18 rated game to set context of how it causes violence, which goes in some way the level ignorance of all involved in the programme on the subject being discussed."

In January of 2011, Gamer's Voice hosted an evening at Portcullis House in Westminster to try and encourage MPs to engage in games. Suprise guest of the evening was Keith Vaz, who'd long been associated with an anti-gaming stance.

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Latest comments (30)

Lewis Middleton Studying Game Design and Production Management, University of Abertay Dundee8 years ago
Typical media trying to create an 'entertaining story' out of tragic events by fanning the flames of conspiracy. How people can casually chuck pseudo scientific theories around like they are fact and feel no moral responsibility to actually get their facts right is beyond me. Still, it was only channel 5, I mean, who actually watches it?
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 8 years ago
Be right back guys, I'm going to train myself to run over people by playing the original Death Race.
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(slow day at the news room obviously)
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Show all comments (30)
Ben Hewett Studying MA Philosophy, University of Birmingham8 years ago
There's a good (if slightly biased) write-up of what was said on CVG. I kinda wish Anne Diamond and Matthew Wright would go back to the 80's. There shouldn't be a place for this kind of ignorance on TV.
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 8 years ago
I found it was the 'child friendly' titles that wanted to make me kill not the 18+ stuff.
Odd that you know.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 8 years ago
Where did he got that submachine gun? I thought that guns are not legal in the UK... Not to mention that a submachine gun normally has a very limited cartridge (around 30 bullets), so he must have planned it in advance, and had the resources and connections to acquire ILLEGAL weapons. A typical troubled teenager, eh?
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JJ Studying Digital Media & Multimedia Technology, London Metropolitan University8 years ago
Typical story of young people, guns & video games. I can say happily, I've not watched an entire episode of 'The Wright Stuff'; though I have flicked past it. IMO it's a show that is a TV version of The Sun newspaper, a waste of time.

For them to relate this atrocity to MW2 was absolutely stupid, a better example would have been GTA4 or Saints Row

Edited 2 times. Last edit by JJ on 18th April 2011 2:50pm

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Tony Johns8 years ago
Gamers Voise should take the matter to court if we are going to get any real VOICE in this matter against poor TV presenters that claim to talk about the "truth...""

Also at 10:30 in the morning????

Isn't that WAY too early to show scenes from an 18 rated game...on school holidays???

Sure...TV shows LOVE to claim that game stores are exposing kids to voilent content...when in reality THEY are more responsible for broadcasting REAL violence on TV at a time when families are at the table eating dinner....NEWS is that bad example...

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Sean Arnold Editorial and Content Manager 8 years ago
Apparently News stations are the same all across the globe. Zero fact checking what-so-ever, what about his family, or the company he keeps. Was he bullied in school, molested as a child, these are all things that should have been taken into account before taking this story to the airwaves. To blame gaming for anything is just stupid, it's entertainment. Blame his parents because this isn't something that happens overnight this was probably building for a while and MW2 has only been out for a year and a half, plus did they mention that that part of the game can be skipped?? I hate the media yet I am part of it ohh the contradiction.
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Julian Alden-Salter Senior Programmer, Blitz Games Studios8 years ago
The real problem is the general (non gaming) public's assumption that ALL games are for kids. Once the message that computer games are, like any other form of entertainment media, for a wide range of age groups then this problem will just become background noise and anyone pushing it, like they did in this programme, will appear naieve and foolish.

The thing that really pi$$e$ me off is seeing parents buying 15 or 18 rated games for their young child. Makes me wish for reproduction to be licensed.
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JJ Studying Digital Media & Multimedia Technology, London Metropolitan University8 years ago
@Julian Alden-Salter

I completely AGREE with what you've said.

May I drop this one into conversation: MANHUNT 2, this is still the best attack I've seen towards the games industry, because the parents even blamed the game.

One thing to remember is: all news is good news, regarding the media. I guess such a poor show has poor ratings as Jeremy Kyle attracts more viewers. Reporting such excrement has bought more attention to the show.

I'm going to try and find the clip online later, to see if they did a better job than the 'video game addiction' stories from Tonight w/ Trevor McDonald and Panorama!
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I actually wrote to Offcom myself a while back over the Alan Titchmarsh show fiasco.

They wrote back after a week or two and basically said that only the BBC is obliged to be accurate and unbiased in its reporting. So I doubt much is going to come of this.

Here's the reply I recieved if you're interested;
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend8 years ago
Tbh, I love it when I hear these bogus stories.

It just goes to show how threatened the television industry feels about the bastard child that is video games. Just like video killed the radio star (lol Buggles) and CD killed the tape, video games will kill television and they know it. These stories/discussions are purposely set up to demonise video games so it keeps all those sad twats on TV in a job.

Lol, do you think Anne Diamond or Matthew Wright could get a job doing anything else than peddling crap on the airwaves? Yea my thoughts exactly; two cheeseburgers and fries please Anne. :D

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 18th April 2011 7:00pm

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Doug McFarlane Co-Owner, KodeSource8 years ago
It's funny how you don't see the reverse of this discussion. I bet somebody could create a study claiming that violent video games actually reduces physical violence, because it is a method for people to 'vent' their frustrations. Of course the same level of diligency should be used for this research! ;)

So, instead of opening fire at a pizza parlour, they release some steam with a frag-fest playing Modern Warfare.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Doug McFarlane on 18th April 2011 9:30pm

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Gregory Keenan8 years ago
Gun licensing laws in this country mean that you cant have an Automatic weapon, so to get a machine gun (Automatic weapon) you have to have been supplied or have strong criminal links.

Im not an expert/know much at all about psychology but im fairly sure if you are that deeply embedded in criminality - it takes more than just a game to push you into it.
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Benjamin Seeberger Writer/Translator 8 years ago
I'm just curious --- is it even possible to prosecute parents for purchasing mature-rated games for their children? Not that that wouldn't stop some parent from purchasing the game and then claiming it as his or her own, but the question persists if legality would even pursue that course of action.
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Doug Paras8 years ago
Ok so now its video games not being in a gang that they are acting violent?
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Joe Winkler trained retail salesman, Expert8 years ago
Many years ago I learned that the media is just another propaganda factory. There was an italian kid (I think age about 15) that murdered his parents with a katana. The Katana was a gift from his father. And the RTL2 news blamed his favorite video game at that time, wich was Final Fantasy 8. After showing the intro (yes the swordfight), they also showed "ingame" footage.
Problem with the ingame footage was that it wasn“t even FF8! They just showed "Zombie Revenge" (Dreamcast) and said that THIS is Final Fantasy.

It was the breaking point of how I trusted the media as a teenager.
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Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd8 years ago
It's worth remembering that this is talk TV. It's light daytime stuff on about the same time as Jeremy Kyle, in which you get D-list celebs to act like they're on the Aldi brand version of Question Time. It's not exactly slow news, more they pick a handful of topics and blather about them with anyone who calls in.

In this situation MANHUNT 2 is a bad example, since Rockstar deliberately manipulated a knee jerk reaction to push the game. Basically they deliberately submitted a game to the BBFC they knew was likely not to be given a rating and then made a big fuss. It's an old marketing trick but with mainstream press reactions to most games it's one that will push sales. Downside is that it doesn't help the development of the industry as a whole.

Diamond isn't one to talk as she's been caught previous ranting about Modern Warfare, IIRC last time it was also asked what the hell she was doing showing 18 rated games to her kids.

But it is a sad statement on those involved where owning an Xbox, PC or PS3 is considered more of an indicator of likely criminal behaviour than membership of a notorious criminal street game and possession of an illegal automatic weapon.

@Ben IIRC in the US ESRB is a voluntary rating which has no legal teeth, the same is true of PEGI. BBFC ratings however do carry legal penalties. As a member of shop staff, supplying content to someone who is underage carries up to a £1000 fine or 5 years in prison. I'm not sure how the regs apply to parents. A lot of the important info is on but it's aimed mostly at "suppliers", I believe in the eyes of the law parents in regard to their own kids in their own homes are judged by a different standard.

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Ben Hewett Studying MA Philosophy, University of Birmingham8 years ago

...which puts the 'issue' squarely at the feet of the parents: they're the ones buying the age-restricted content for their kids.
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Stephen Woollard Online Infrastructure Specialist, Electronic Arts8 years ago
I am reminded of a story told to me by a former co-worker (hi Mike :-P) who used to work in a well known high street retailer. He had a kid clearly underage come in and try to buy GTA San Andreas and he rightly refused to sell it to him.

The kid gave him a mouthful of abuse and left the store, only to return a few minutes later with his mother in tow, who proceeded to buy the game for him despite the protestations of my friend that it was extremely violent and unsuitable for a young child, to which she replied "oh but he wants it, it'll be OK". The problem is, because she was over 18 he couldn't refuse to sell it to her even though he knew it was actually for consumption by someone underage.

I have personally had a run in with a technologically impaired duck of a mother at a public event where Bulletstorm was being shown and she was letting her two young children play it. I mentioned to her that it was 18 rated and she smiled sweetly albeit vacantly and said "it's OK, I've turned the sound down". I tried to explain to her that it was rated not only for language but also for extreme violence and gore, and she basically just ignored me.

I bet if her kids started having nightmares she'd have been very quick to point the finger at those nasty violent games...

For the love of whatever deity or deities you believe in, why do so many parents just not get this? When I bought my Xbox the guy in the store handed me a leaflet explaining how to use the parental controls, and when I opened the box at home the first thing I found on the top of everything else was another copy of the same leaflet.

The industry is doing its part - why can't everyone else?
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Michael O'callaghan Studying MA Computer Games Art (Character), Teesside University8 years ago
Yeah, I used to work GAME. 80 percent of parents buyng 18 rated games for kids used to laugh when I explained the rating ( and as I personally enjoyed doing, details of WHY it had the rating) and simply say "oh well it's just a game". Allthough in fairness slowly but surelly it did feel that more were taking me seriously.
I still remember the look af betraid heartbroken anger I got from a 9 year old as I explained to his granny exactly why "the darkness" had recieved an 18 rating and her shock. Let's just say I doubt that kid ever got another game above his age out of her...
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Liam Farrell8 years ago
I laughed how Anne Diamond alledged how the "Studies that showed there no real link between video games and real life violence" (I'm guessing the Byron report) was funded by the games industry. The publishers are too busy trying to crush the pre-owned market, to start acting like the tobacco industry!
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Lee Camm Web Magazine Editor/Writer 8 years ago
The most ridiculous thing about all this, is that 30 years ago, TV was responsible for all bad behaviour in kids. Now that TV is acceptable on all levels, Video games are the ones under fire. I will sit at home watching trailers for violent or explicit movies and TV series that people think are fine to watch, (i.e. Spartacus gods of the arena or Fast and furious), i even know a school class of 9 year olds doing a CSI day. But violence in a game is Wrong.
Arnie campaigned against violent games, and made a career on terminator and Commando

Whoever blames games for violence, are ignorant and blind to society. To kill someone, you need to be able to kill. I've played violent games since i was old enough to lift a controller, yet not once have i committed a crime, or been involved in acts of violence.

And if games make us do things, why am i not running down the street jumping on turtles and head butting bricks to find coins. . . . .
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Pete Thompson Editor 8 years ago
lol... Good move I watched this when it aired and I couldn't believe what I was hearing from those single minded "celebs" on the panel, I even emailed them and said that as a 42yr old gamer (and websiteowner) I had not once ever tried to kill anyone or mow down people whilst driving my car!! No surprise when my email got no mention.. And that Dr Bull (shit) he's just you're normal good for nothing NHS trained GP who knows f*** all about nothing!!

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Charlie Moritz Studying Philosophy with Psychology, University of Warwick8 years ago
I used to watch the Wright Stuff, it's not a bad program but they do hold some very strong and often very ignorant beliefs. As Gamers we are always going to be an easy target for people who can't be bothered to do their research or understand a problem properly, and that is why I agree that we should fight this. Public perception forms government policy, and while it may not seem possible the fact of the matter is this ignorant and inflammatory rubbish could well snowball on us and take our beloved lifestyle with it!
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Joe Winkler trained retail salesman, Expert8 years ago
The problem with parents buying stuff for them that are inappropriate is very common. One time (when I still worked for Gamestop) a mother told me not to talk about "rape" and "abuse" in front of her 9 year old boy. I just tried to tell her that GTA is not the game he should play at that age. And that he is able to abuse, rape, kill e.g. in the game. She just answered: "No, he won“t do that kind of stuff. He just wants to drive the cars." After trying to convince her to buy a racing game, she just left and bought GTA at the nearest competing company..
So much for keeping mature content away from children. Thanx parents!, good job..
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Benn Achilleas CEO and Founder, Playabl8 years ago
Mike, I think it's funny that you used to work in GAME and the parents you dismiss from their statements "oh well it's just a game" are probably the most sensible of the lot, because you know what... it is just a game! And a movie is just a movie. If you are the kind of person who is influenced into murdering other humans on the basis of a game or movie then the age limit being applied is of little consequence.

I was watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre (on pirate VHS) at 8 years old and even though I've been to Texas, I've not massacred anyone with a chainsaw or worn a human flesh mask, but put Jeremy Kyle in a room with me and a chainsaw.... oh momma!
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Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd8 years ago
@Liam Byron Report was on Games Ratings systems. IIRC the key research into the area are from the American Psychological Association (from a couple of years back), there's the ongoing research from Nottingham Trent University (quoted in the recent Panorama), neither of which were funded by or associated with the Industry.

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Whilst it's true parent's that don't let their kid's watch 15/18 films haven't worked out games with ratings are identical, I have to agree with Benn, early introduction to so called "harmful things" in a reasoned environment in moderation often prevents any issue's developing at a later age as many continental countries have demonstrated, I watched Aliens films and a few others on occasion, had a (small) glass of beer or wine since I was 3+ or so as a child on weekends however I wasn't allowed things like crisps or other "junk" food other's had period, I've never had any of the over indulgence in alcohol that many in peer-group has, and no issues with violence either as I'm not nut's... on the other hand when I first got to secondary school and could choose my own lunch (back when cakes and crisps were options in school) with lunch money, I pigged on everything sweet and crisp like I could find for a few year's and wasn't slim again until 15/16 :D, this British if not now worldwide obsession with banning and completely preventing access of such indulgences from the earliest of ages is to blame for many instances of over-indulgence later in life.

Though frankly as for violence the idea that anyone only acted because they saw, played, heard or read something is ridiculous as are the people daft enough to believe it, there have been murderer's and crazies throughout history, they didn't exactly spring up since the invention of the tv or audio player's and so on, if someone's crazy enough to kill someone based on something that's fiction then they would have killed someone eventually regardless of what they're exposed to, it's called being nuts, whatever happened to he/she/it/goat's nut's being sufficient explanation for acting crazy I don't know, always has to be someone else to blame it seems nowdays, so you can understand them somehow, tis ridiculous, there's a good reason why you can't understand them, to do so you'd have to be equally as nutty as they are, so quit trying.
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