Television is morally superior to videogames … says a television station boss

If you want to truly define the term ‘biased,’ perhaps you might want to take a look at ITV executive Michael Grade, who has made the ridiculous claim that television is morally superior to videogames. The boss of one of Britain’s least entertaining TV stations has stated that because you sit and watch TV, it somehow makes it more moral than interactive entertainment. I don’t quite get the logic, since it’s akin to someone saying bicycling makes your nipples larger than driving does, because bikes have a handlebar. There’s no basis or reasoning for his random conclusion. Also, tea is healthier than coffee, because tea comes from India. You see how easy it is to pull these make-believe claims out of my arse?

Aside from the fact that such deep concepts as morality can’t just be so liberally applied to highly varied forms of media in the way that Grade did, I also have to call into question his point that videogames have no narrative. He claims that videogames aren’t as ‘moral’ as TV shows because television can “contextualise video content in a dramatic narrative.” Has he not played games since the days of Pac-Man? I’ve been in the middle of showing the Metal Gear Solid series to my girlfriend, which led to political discussion and emotive reactions to some of the finest storytelling of any entertainment medium available today. I should point out that MGS also has a very strong anti-war and anti-nuke message. So, so immoral, huh? For this fool to decide that videogames are incapable of narrative story when they are, in some instances, a superior format for the delivery of ideas is laughable and a pure betrayal of the ITV boss’s complete and utter ignorance. 

His claims, a response to EA CEO John Riccitiello’s protests against the villification of the games industry, have absolutely no basis in reality and as such, should be taken only as evidence that at least one TV station is run by a man of undistilled idiocy. Claiming that videogames are practically immoral because one can lay back and let television ‘come to them’ is one of the most illogical and unfathomably asinine arguments I’ve heard in all my years writing about videogames, and I’ve heard some classics. 

The idea that all television and all videogames can be held to the same moral standard is a joke in and of itself. I can sit and watch pornography as well, does that make it more moral than, say, a game of Dig Dug? Is television more moral than chess since, as per Grade’s wild claims, chess has no narrative context? Chess is a game about war, a very trivial game about war, without rhyme or reason. According to Grade’s nonsensical theory, television is more wholesome than chess. Of course, that’s taking his argument to extremes, but a stupid point deserves a stupid counterpoint, no? As a final note, I’d just like to ask an open question — since when were unthinking, unsentient, inanimate forms of media capable of having any sense of morality? I thought that was unique to us as people. Obviously I was wrong, if Grade is to be believed.

[Thanks, Donut]

James Stephanie Sterling