The Guardian wants you to play GTA IV

When I spoke to Jack Thompson, he was pretty confident that his “side” of the violent games debate had already won. He spoke with the belief that common consensus was on his side and that one day, we’d all be saying “I should have listened to Jack.” While the anti-game lobby thinks it will prevail — despite the history of entertainment media proving them otherwise — the tide is undeniably turning in favor of games, as The Guardian continues to show.

The Guardian is a British newspaper which has now run its third pro-gaming piece of recent weeks. The Observer’s Catherine Bennett has suggested that PM Gordon Brown ought to try Grand Theft Auto IV to get out his frustrations. She also brings up the new book, Grand Theft Childhood:

The authors, two Harvard psychiatrists, Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl K Olson, were told by many young players that they played violent games to ‘relax’ or to ‘get my anger out’. Should we not, as a matter of urgency, implore Gordon Brown to escape into GTA IV over the bank holiday? Or would the experience make an already vulnerable and solitary Prime Minister more likely to aim his car, à la Niko, at cyclists such as David Cameron?

While the catharsis theory is not proven (along with every other theory about what games do to the player), it’s certainly an idea I support, if only from anecdotal evidence. Catherine is no gamer, but she can see how videogames would help relieve stress, and believes that the hysteria over videogames is overblown.

On the contrary, this moral panic appears to owe much to myths about high-school killers, while plenty of research suggests, as a Commons select committee has just heard, that gaming can improve children’s ‘confidence, their sense of social standing, their ability to multitask, their ability to receive conflicting bits of information’.

This great article, which I suggest everyone read, especially the Thompsons, Becks and Yees of the world, is yet further evidence of mainstream media in the UK realizing that portraying games in a bad light is a reckless and ridiculous endeavor, if only for the publication’s own good. We, the gamers, have become the majority in Britain, as GTA IV breaks sales records and permeates our society. We are not the easily pushed around, stereotyped basement dwellers of five years ago. We are the culture now.

We are the ones the press have to write for, the ones that buy their print and watch their TV … when we’re not playing games. Some of them are finally starting to suss it.

Jim Sterling