What the papers say: Video games hit by tabloid storm

Another week, another witch hunt. Into the media spotlight moved violent video games, hailed by the Daily Mail as the root of all evil. Its ‘Murder by PlayStation’ story (29 July) recounted the killing of Stefan Pakeerah by a Manhunt devotee, which sparked a media storm and the removal of the Rockstar Games title from retailers’ shelves.

‘In the hands of impressionable teenagers, it can be a lethal influence,’ was a typical view (thisisbournemouth.co. uk, 31 July), backing the Mail’s call for a total ban on these games. Others blamed society at large: ‘The savage environment that nurtures violent children is the opposite of virtual’ ventured The Observer (1 August).

The gaming press put the storm down to the start of the silly season. ‘It’s time to lock your front door again, with the press stirring up a bona fide moral panic,’ was one of the politer comments (TotalGames.net, 30 July).

Silly season or not, the Mail’s campaign has inflicted damage on the gaming industry’s bottom line. With a £50m lawsuit pending, it could be game over for Manhunt and its ilk.

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow. www.echoresearch.com www.newsnow.co.uk

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