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Obama hits out at videogame "distraction"

US president claims not to know how to work Xbox and PlayStation consoles

US president Barack Obama has suggested that the modern media environment is creating an undue pressure on democracy, as he made specific references to the Xbox and PlayStation as being part of an unhelpful "distraction" from education and empowerment.

Speaking to students at Hampton University in Virginia, as reported by AFP, Obama opined: "You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank all that high on the truth meter."

"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, - none of which I know how to work - information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," he added.

"All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy," he continued.

Obama's address warned that the US was under greater threat than ever from well-educated foreign workers, as he implied that modern entertainment and media could leave the country at a disadvantage.

Although traditionally characterised as being more pro-games than many other world politicians, with reports suggesting that his daughters have brought a Wii into the White House, Obama's track record on games has been mixed.

In June 2009 he suggested that children should abandon videogames and focus on outdoor exercise, leading to a rebuttal from EA Sports president Peter Moore.

However, Obama's "Educate to Innovate" campaign has been embraced by both Sony and Microsoft. The administration has apparently also requested that Microsoft create a "deficit-reduction videogame" to help illustrate current economic problems.

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David Jenkins

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