Anti-game hysteria ‘just the way it is with TV’

GamePolitics, gaming journalism’s answer to intelligent people, has a story up right now which details a dialogue between the site and Dr. Susan Bartell, a woman who went on Fox’s The Morning Show with uneducated opinions and slammed Halo 3. Her defense is that, even though she believes teens shouldn’t play such games, her ignorant sensationalism is just the way television works.

This opens a window to something we all knew, and now we have proof — that most so-called ‘experts’ care more about frightening the public for attention than actually providing thoughtful, reasonable coverage on the ‘violent’ games debate. Bartell used brain scans shown to her only five minutes before the show went on air to form an ‘opinion’ on how games make children violent, but don’t worry … that’s just the way it is with TV, remember.

Bartell implied on The Morning Show that after a child plays a ‘violent’ videogame (put in quotes because games themselves are NOT capable of violence), they are likely to murder somebody who bumps into them in the street. Such wild and dangerous claims are damaging to a very wonderful industry, but Bartell doesn’t seem to mind. After all, it’s just business.

Hit the jump for what was said between GP and Dr. Bartell and ask yourself — what’s more dangerous to society? A simple videogame, or a TV show that reaches millions and essentially whips them into hysteria for precious ratings? I know what scares ME more.

GP:  One thing I found especially concerning… was [an e-mail] comment that you only saw the [Indiana University] brain scan pix five minutes before air [of The Morning Show]. That being the case, do you think it appropriate to go on and offer a professional opinion based on the scans to the audience?

Dr. Bartell: That’s the way it is with TV — it’s just not a black and white thing. I am genuinely sorry that it caused such a sense that I was being so disrespectful [to gamers]. The scans aside I stand by my opinion that violent games should not be played by teens… As to whether I should have responded to the scans — my intent was going on air to discuss whether the church should be holding Halo nights, clearly that was derailed.

GP: In all honesty, I’m having difficulty reconciling “that’s the way it is with TV” to responsible professionalism. It smacks of sensationalism. Just being candid here.

Dr. Bartell: I can understand how you feel… there is an element of sensationalism to it I suppose, but no less, IMO than all the hoopla created by the GP posters in response to my appearance. I appreciate candor — it will always help me grow as a person and as a professional. I couldn’t — five minutes before going on air — say, sorry I won’t do it, I don’t have enough background information about this brain scan! I’m just not that much of a purist…

James Stephanie Sterling