The Daily Mail sensationally reported this morning that ?boy has fit playing violent computer game?. It seems that Jack Tinn, an 11 year old Sunderland boy, collapsed unconscious minutes into playing Resident Evil 4 on his PlayStation 2, and had to be taken to hospital after suffering an epileptic fit.
Jack, from Barnes, Sunderland, was given his Sony Playstation 2 for Christmas three years ago. He has, the Mail bizarrely report, ?also been to discos and movies with flashing lights, but has never suffered a seizure before.? Jack suffered the epileptic fit on Boxing Day whilst he and his parents John and Ruth were visiting relatives in Portsmouth when he decided to play the clearly 15+ age-marked game.
The Daily Mail then goes on to describe the ultra-violent content in the clearly 15+ age-marked game which features, ?scenes of exploding heads and gory battle scenes including what is described as 'an escape from a village filled with Texas Chainsaw Massacre extras'.?
The boy's mother and father, a primary school teacher and a secondary school maths teacher respectively, have called for ?the dangers of such games [to] be made more clear to all ages.? Or rather, in actuality, SPOnG suspects that they haven?t. This is merely something that they have said to the muck-racking Daily Mail hack, who has then gone and built this non-story into a typical moral panic against the evils of videogaming on our children.
Yawn, here we go again. SPOnG is almost tempted to ignore the story, but if we ignore it then we allow the Daily Mail to continue to misrepresent the truth in each of these kind of cases, which we simply cannot do.
So, aside from the fact that Capcom?s Resident Evil 4 is clearly marked for users aged 15 and above, and that any responsible parents, such as SPOnG would expect teachers such as John and Ruth Tinn to be for example, should not really allow their 11 year old boy to be playing the game, what can we glean from this story and from the Daily Mail?s take on the story?
The Daily Mail?s website ? which is here
? asks readers ?do you let your children play violent computer games? Tell us in the reader comments below?. Whilst SPOnG can?t really imagine many parents even admitting to letting their under-age children play violent games, let alone Daily Mail readers making such a shocking admission, do feel free to post your thoughts on this issue on the site.
Jack's blackout bore all the hallmarks of photosensitive epilepsy, a disorder which affects nearly one per cent of children aged one to 14 but, as the Mail goes on to report, ?is thought to be on the increase as more youngsters spend longer playing computer and video games.?
Now this is the interesting bit. Who is this ?thought? by? Is it thought by well-established, peer-reviewed medical journals? Or is it just thought by a muck-raking Daily Mail journalist? SPOnG suspects the latter.
The parents in this case apparently could not find any age or epilepsy warnings on the game, which seems strange, as both are always clearly printed on the box and in the manual respectively.
Thankfully the Mail go on to quote voice-of-reason, Capcom?s good old Ben le Rougetel, who defends the many steps games producers take to avoid such unfortunate incidents occuring, pointing out that many games print fullpage warnings about the dangers of epilepsy on the instruction manual.
Ben also added: "The game is intended for people aged 15 and over. There is a warning within the manual for Resident Evil, as there is for all video games, which does talk about the potential risks involved."
Ben also makes it very clear that the games industry is just as concerned as the Daily Mail in any case of young gamers having epileptic fits, going on to say that, "It is a very regettable incident that has happened to this young boy and we're glad to hear he's OK."
SPOnG agrees wholeheartedly with Ben and also with other industry spokesman quoted in the piece, SCEE?s Jonathan Fargher, stressing that parents should not provide their children with games which are classified for older age groups.
Jonathan stresses that Sony, ?are deeply saddened to hear the boy hasn't been very well but there is clear guidance in the manual.? He also went on to sensibly point out that. ?He was also playing a product that is categorically not aimed at his age group. That may also have been a factor."