Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Playtime All over Again: Kids Needed to Be Protected from Evil Video Games-Then Wii Came along, Writes Becky Hogge

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Playtime All over Again: Kids Needed to Be Protected from Evil Video Games-Then Wii Came along, Writes Becky Hogge

Article excerpt

The advancement of the debate around children and new technology accomplished by Dr Tanya Byron has been no mean feat. Commissioned by an incoming prime minister, directly after a silly season in which the media ricocheted hysterically from cyber-bullying to suicide websites, the Byron Review looked certain to be an exercise in finger-wagging. By repositioning the debate around the child and what children bring to technology as developmental works in progress, and by highlighting the generation gap as a source of much of the moral panic, Dr Byron managed to move the debate several steps forward. For which, three cheers.

Still, if the video-games naysayers were right, the next few weeks should bring a dramatic dip in random acts of violence. Late last month, amid almost unbearable hype, Rockstar Games released episode one in the fourth generation of the Grand Theft Auto series. The release is likely to be the highest-grossing in entertainment history: not bad for a game that has been around for nearly a decade.

In that time, Grand Theft Auto has courted more than a little controversy. Its unapologetic depictions of extreme violence and sustained popularity have made it a byword for all that worries moralists about the effects of technology on the youth of today.

The game's creators have ignored the critics and continued to deliver what their young, male audience loves: fast-paced action that puts the gamer in control of the story, on-point soundtracks and a certain brand of knowing humour. …

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