Friday, January 29, 2010

So close, yet so far.

In my last screed, I wondered when we'd see a positive videogame story in the mainstream media. It appears I may have spoken too soon, as the Los Angeles Times just did a piece hyping a videogame tournament this weekend in their Entertainment section. It's easy to see this is a good sign, but before I go overboard heaping praise upon the article, take a closer look:
On Saturday, UGTL will hold its fifth official Streetfighter IV tournament at a warehouse just south of downtown L.A. Streetfighter IV is a popular video game, available on PlayStation II or Xbox, in which players battle each other in simulated hand-to-hand combat.
If you didn't find anything wrong in that passage, then you've probably never worked as a copy editor or proofreader. To put it plainly, the correct terms are Street Fighter IV, PlayStation 3 (not PlayStation 2), and Xbox 360. To give credit where it's due, kudos to the Times reporter for at least including the Roman numerals in the title of Street Fighter IV, as I've seen "Street Fighter 4" much more often. You'd think it would be easy to get such a small detail right. I mean, come on, it's right in the logo on the front of the friggin' box:

Perhaps you think I'm nitpicking. Well, you know what? So should the Los Angeles Times. As I mentioned almost a year ago in my entry about the Videogame Style Guide, one would be completely in the right to criticize the Times if they, for example, wrote about The God Father 2 instead of The Godfather Part II. It should go without saying that writing about videogames should be held to the same standard as writing about film.

But I want to be clear that I only criticize, not to nitpick, but because I want videogames to be a more regular part of the LA Times' coverage. But if a major publication like the Times keeps making simple mistakes like these, then I'm much more likely to continue to get my videogame news from fan-made and amateur Web sites. (By the way, go to Get Your Tournament for the most up-to-the-minute videogame coverage!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I've been a Satanist since the age of 5, apparently.

That is, if you agree with self-described "frumpy, middle-aged mom" Marla Jo Fisher of the Orange County Register.

I truly believe that video games were created by Satan to turn otherwise normal children into his drooling, glassy-eyed stooges. After my son plays them at his friends’ houses, he comes home irritable and testy for the rest of the day.

Even though his skin is normally mocha-colored, after a day spent in a darkened room with a controller in his hand, he comes home with a sickly pallor.

Nice hat.

I'm tempted to call bullshit, as Marla Jo Fisher seems to fit the stereotype of the panicked, uninformed parent to a T. But no, Ms. Fisher really is a staff writer for the Orange County Register, and some of her previous missives deal with such hard-hitting topics as children wanting cell phones and the sudden popularity of Blackberries.

I breathed a slight sigh of relief when she revealed in her next article that the whole "Satan" bit was a joke. But of course she's still convinced that games will turn your child into fat, lazy zombies.

I'm not going to refute Fisher's comments point by point, as many others on the Internet have beat me to it, and most people with common sense can see right through the bullshit anyway. Instead, I'd just like to point out how every counter-point comes from a gaming blog or Web site, and I've seen pretty much nothing from traditional, mainstream media. This says to me that ignorant opinions like Marla Jo Fisher's are still the most prevalent, and it's up to us in the interim to set the record straight.

I'm still waiting for the day when this balance shifts. Just as comedian Bill Hicks wondered why you never heard a positive drug story in the news, I'm wondering when the major news media is going run a positive video game story.