Weblog Archives

home

audio blog

photo blog

faq

about

gallery

contact

links

store

appearances

wish


Subscribe in NewsGator Online


Union 
Label

« your friends and neighbors | Main | waiting for the eastern glow »

January 03, 2004

fun fun fun in the fluffy chair

I know from personal experience that The Media are often a miserable failure when it comes to getting the story right, but this story that I read yesterday really upset me.

Last month, Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade had a fantastic idea: show the world that gamers are not the mindless idiots the Mainstream News would like to think we are, and help out some children at the same time. Thus spake Gabe:

"If you are like me, every time you see an article like this one - where the author claims that video games are training our nations youth to kill - you get angry. The media seems intent on perpetuating the myth that gamers are ticking time bombs just waiting to go off. I know for a fact that gamers are good people. I have had the opportunity on multiple occasions to meet hundreds of you at conventions all over the country. We are just regular people who happen to love video games.

With that in mind we have put together a little something we like to call "Child's Play." Penny Arcade is working with the Seattle Children's Hospital and Amazon.com to make this Christmas really special for a lot of very sick kids. With the help of the Children's Hospital we have created an Amazon Wish List for the kids. It's full of video games, movies and toys. Some of these kids are in pretty bad shape and just having a Game Boy would really raise their spirits."

Well, the Penny Arcade readers responded, and over $200,000 worth of toys and games were donated to the children's hospital. Others who couldn't or didn't give toys, gave donations that totaled just over $27,000 dollars.

Think about that for a second. It's a fairly big story, isn't it? Those Gamers, the ones who play GTA: Vice City and want to come to your home to eat your children actually aren't so bad after all. Those Gamers, who are planning the destruction of our American Way of Life when they get together for LAN parties are actually a caring and thoughful group of people. It kinda screws up the search-and-replace The Media have done on "Heavy Metal Music Listeners" or "Marilyn Manson Fans" for their shock-and-horror stories, doesn't it?

A Google News search turns up three stories about the kindness and generosity of Penny Arcade and its readers.

Three.

The other story that seems to have captured The Media's watchful eye returns 11,100 stories. Those are some great priorities, News Media.

Finally, let's give Tycho the last word on their experience with The Media:


One hears a lot about media bias, quite a lot indeed, but the accepted formula goes like this:

the "Media," capital M, an imaginary monolith with a supposedly synchronized perspective, is saying things that I disagree with. The things that I believe are right, therefore these factual distortions are the result of some lens - a bias which is deeply ingrained, like a vein of rich silver.

That's all well and good, but let me propose the CFR Hypothesis, where CFR stands for "complete fucking retards." Let's see if you like it.

The first time the news dumbshits came out to talk about Child's Play, though they were clearly told who was responsible for it they excised one of the people behind it. I consider this a fairly minor issue, but they're still retarded. When they came to the Children's Hospital itself for the toy delivery, there was no reporter even down there with us. A cameraman got some footage and then (I believe) ran away. I thought I heard him say "Ghosts!", but that's neither here nor there. When this footage was aired, I learned something new: that the toys had been donated by a local catholic school, and were valued at nearly a thousand dollars. Understand this. A single bin of GBA SPs was worth four thousand dollars, and we had four such bins. That's above and beyond the seventy GameCubes the other twenty carts of toys, which at our best estimates come to around $175,000. Then there was a check for twenty-seven thousand. Here's where the depression sets in.

What we - this is a grand We, which includes you - what we did was completely amazing. It was worth doing purely on account of its own virtues. But the other part, what we might call the "Secondary Objective," was to promote the idea that we are not fucking murderers. This is an effort to combat media portrayals. Here's the trick, the dark revelation, the Empire Strikes Back which produces our moment of darkness: we need to rely on that selfsame inept machinery to broadcast our new message as well. They're simply not capable of it. I understand that there's just no story in people being good to each other, but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened from time to time.

Everyone who produces Penny Arcade, and everyone who reads Penny Arcade did an amazing, thoughtful, kind and compassionate act. They should be recognized for what they did, and that's what I'm doing today.


Please read MORE for a Journalist's response to this entry.

Two days after I posted this entry, I got the following e-mail. I think the author makes some good points, and I present it here as a counter-point.


Dear Wil,

I've been reading your site for quite a while now, and I have a lot of respect for you and what you have to say. But some of what you said in your most recent entry bothers me, and here's why.

I'm certainly not going to argue that journalists don't mess up the facts, or that they don't place priority on blood instead of benevolence, or that they always present the whole picture, as you see them failing to do in their portrayal of gamers. Because they do mess up stories, and they do run a lot of negative news, and they do at times paint only part of the picture.

But I am a journalist. And I'm disturbed by the way you've lumped together
journalists of all stripes as The Media. Because The Media don't exist. Journalists are not a mindless collective. Despite the consolidation of media ownership, they are individual reporters and editors with individual strengths and weaknesses and opinions. They work in very different media with different limitations and issues and goals and audiences, even though they share some of the same problems. They don't get in a room together and agree to portray the world in the worst possible light. Decisions are made by individual reporters and editors and newsrooms who disagree, sometimes vehemently, on how to address the issues of accuracy, fairness, good news vs. bad, and a hundred others. They try to come to a consensus that they believe is the best decision. But aside from the need to get the facts straight, those issues aren't simple ones. Journalists struggle with them every day. Sometimes I have room for 10 stories when there are 30 I think should get in, and there are another 30 besides that on the wire. If I could add another 8 pages, I would. But I can't. So I have to make what I find to be rather agonizing choices among them. If I put X in, is anyone even going to read it? Do lives lost trump lives improved? And, yes, at least where I work, what good news can we put out there? And so on.

It's true that we make mistakes, and that we make news decisions others don't agree with. But although a lot of us make these same mistakes and decisions, we still make them as individual media outlets and reporters and editors. And in the case of Penny Arcade, they didn't deal with any kind of Media collective. They dealt with a specific group of journalists who apparently got the facts wrong. That's a terrible thing, because Penny Arcade and its readers did something wonderful and amazing. But it's not fair to blame some sort of Media conspiracy encompassing everyone in the profession for something one group of journalists did wrong or didn't cover. There are journalists who do their job poorly, just as there are members of every profession who do poor work. But there are also journalists who love their work, who are devoted to doing it well and to improving the profession. To lump them in with the other sort demeans them and their efforts. Please place blame where it belongs and don't slap the label of ineptitude on everyone. Not only because it's unfair, but also because if
you reduce the media to a giant, faceless entity, then you relieve individuals of accountability for their work. Journalists have bylines and e-mail addresses and phone numbers. If you see flaws in what they do, then you should tell them. If you want them to change, don't forget that they're people who are capable of improving if the public tells them what they're doing wrong. I can't promise that they will, but I also can't promise that they won't.

Please don't think I'm suggesting that you stop criticizing media content. I think readers and watchers should be examining what they read and what they see. People's criticisms give me things to think about and help me do my job better. Maybe I'm just idealistic and naive about my profession. But I also know that this job is hard, and that little in journalism is black and white except paper and ink. And that I get tired of doing the best I can day after day to make my paper a good one, only to discover people think journalists are nothing but uncaring, profit-driven drones.

Thank you for listening.



Posted by wil at January 3, 2004 11:44 AM
Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.wilwheaton.net/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/402

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference fun fun fun in the fluffy chair:

» Video Gamers Are Good People from brendoman-dot-com
Wil Wheaton sounds off on the media and such: I know from personal experience that The Media are often a miserable failure when it comes to getting the story right, but this story that I read yesterday really upset me. They've blown it again -- big tim... [Read More]

Tracked on January 3, 2004 12:47 PM

» Good News Never Made The Papers Sell from IMAGinES
I know a lot of the readers of this website and the IMAGinewS group already either read Penny Arcade, play video/computer games or both, but I liked this Wil Wheaton article so much that I'm doing my bit to make... [Read More]

Tracked on January 3, 2004 04:21 PM

» According to Wil, Media Sucks Ballz from Medicated Dad
WIL WHEATON DOT NET: fun fun fun in the fluffy chair Wherein Wil relates the story of Penny Arcade (an occasionally amusing, but somewhat overrated net comic), who organized the donation of nearly a quarter million dollars worth of video... [Read More]

Tracked on January 3, 2004 05:57 PM

» Media Bias Against Gamers from News
Everyone's seen the media fall over themselves with a stream of unsubstantiated video game equals violence drivel, but Penny Arcade decided to do something to counter the claims that all gamers are violent miscreants with no sense social responsibility... [Read More]

Tracked on January 4, 2004 04:28 PM

» Wil Wheaton? from durdle /
Well Dear Crap. You know you should feel ashamed when Wil Wheaton think's you're scum. Last month, Penny Arcade created a Make-Shift charity, called Childs Play. Childs Play donated over $200,000 in cash ($27,000) and games+game systems+misc cool gear ... [Read More]

Tracked on January 5, 2004 05:32 AM

» Priorities from Schoolblog
Amongst others, Wil Wheaton has commented on a news story… no, make that non story… that is making my blood, at least, boil. I play computer games too - and i play some fairly violent ones. And yet, oddly enough,... [Read More]

Tracked on January 5, 2004 06:50 AM

» the media don't watch the children play from pure.as.the.driven
Firstly, 2.4.24 is out, and doesn't include XFS again, despite promises that .24 would have it. Secondly, check out this writeup by Wil Wheaton on Penny Arcade's Child's Play project, and the lack of media attention to it. Some posters... [Read More]

Tracked on January 5, 2004 08:02 AM

» Round of Applause from verybigblog
Wil mentioned it, as did my brother over the holidays. Will has a very complete story of the media fubaring it. You have to read it. It's amazing, and sad that SUCH a huge success way beyond anything you'd think, was completely dised by the media, who ... [Read More]

Tracked on January 5, 2004 10:31 AM

» Random Anger from MauriceReeves.com
Here are some more random thoughts for you to part with: The Register reported that the FBI has asked all police departments to watch anyone walking around cities with almanacs and/or maps. Good to know that the FBI still worries... [Read More]

Tracked on January 5, 2004 09:11 PM

» Random Anger from MauriceReeves.com
Here are some more random thoughts for you to part with: The Register reported that the FBI has asked all police departments to watch anyone walking around cities with almanacs and/or maps. Good to know that the FBI still worries... [Read More]

Tracked on January 5, 2004 09:11 PM

» CFR from Obfuscation Blog
How does one describe this? I think fucking infuriating does the job best. [Read More]

Tracked on January 5, 2004 09:22 PM

» Give Journalists a Break from New Media Journalism @ Seton Hill University
Wil Wheaton is the former child star who played "Wesley Crusher" on Star Trek: The Next Generation. From the late 80s on, his character was derieded and despised on the Internet, but Wheaton is now... [Read More]

Tracked on January 5, 2004 10:44 PM

» Child's Play from News Goat
Wil is trying to raise some publicity for a very generous act performed by a group of gamers. The readers of Penny Arcade donated over $200,000 worth of toys and games, and over $27,000 in cash to the Seattle Children's... [Read More]

Tracked on January 6, 2004 07:16 AM

» Games from The Daily Irrelevant
As the old saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished.... [Read More]

Tracked on January 7, 2004 05:42 AM

» Gamers and the Media from CeeJayOz.com
Gamers have been getting a bad rap in the media recently. The game series Grand Theft Auto has long been... [Read More]

Tracked on January 7, 2004 04:55 PM

» back in action from the hanged man at askee dot net
It has been a while since I wrote. I've clearly been neglecting my duties as a blogger. In all fairness, I had a busy and hectic holiday, and then a busy first week as soon as I returned, and I've been seriously low on energy as a result of being sic... [Read More]

Tracked on January 8, 2004 04:39 PM

» ad infidium from THOR's 3¢
[1946] SrTHORius: OK, so here's how it went down. I went to the BX to get a haircut. I was planning on going into the BX to buy some socks or something, get cashback and use the cash to... [Read More]

Tracked on January 9, 2004 11:56 PM

» halo: the cure for aids? from the hanged man at askee dot net
In a trend started by Penny Arcade's Child's Play, gamers are out to show that, far from being the degenerates that they are often painted to be, that they can be really giving people. In that vein, a small group... [Read More]

Tracked on January 17, 2004 12:35 PM

» Screw mainstream media from Gadget Madness
Looks like Penny-Arcade's Child's Play, while bringing much joy to sick children, is not a news story worth covering. I guess the media likes to portray video gamers as violent loners incapable of being part of society. I think... [Read More]

Tracked on February 23, 2004 09:39 AM

» Screw mainstream media from GadgetMadness.com
Looks like Penny-Arcade's Child's Play, while bringing much joy to sick children, is not a news story worth covering.... [Read More]

Tracked on March 6, 2004 07:34 PM
Comments

thanks, penny arcade!

Posted by: casemeau at January 3, 2004 11:50 AM

fix the miserable failure link and then it's a great post :) and a great story that deserves a great deal of coverage - I am glad these games are destroying American values

oh

wait

Posted by: JD SoOR at January 3, 2004 11:51 AM

Hey Wil your right dude, gamers are discriminated against. (hope I spelt discriminated right) My mom believes that computer gamers are really "bad" people. I agree with her when they try to demonstrate moves from the game, State of Emergency on me.

Kabelo Ntsele - Thinking out of the box since 1990

Posted by: Kabelo Ntsele at January 3, 2004 11:55 AM

Thanks for posting this Wil and a big, humongous thanks to Penny Arcade & everyone who donated for/to Childs Play.

This is an amazing opportunity for the Media to see us gamers for who we really are...caring, compassionate, sensitive people who really do care about those in OUR country who need attention (as well as those in other countries who need our attention too).

Thanks again Wil. You rock. :)

Posted by: Moongoddess at January 3, 2004 11:58 AM

As the old saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. The Media is not interested in the good that people do because it doesn't sell. People would much rather place blame for the evils of the world on a simplistic answer - in this case video games - then to admit that there are no easy answers. Come on people, children don't pick up guns and shoot their friends because they saw it in a video game. Where are the parents who should be supervising them and not letting them have access to things that clearly weren't meant for children? I do take exception with one comment by Tycho. He called those reporters "retarded". I can tell you that I work with individuals who have mental retardation, and it is an insult to them. They are far better people then the so-called "unbiased Media" could ever hope to be.

Posted by: Kristi at January 3, 2004 12:04 PM

This really goes with the theory presented in "Bowling for Columbine"...

News stories about sell, even if those monsters don't exist.

News stories about don't sell well. Boo.

Thanks for showing us the bunny side of the story!

Adam

Posted by: Adam at January 3, 2004 12:04 PM

I don't normally post here but I read your blog all the time. This post just struck a nerve. Yesterday I wasted my time explaining to a conservative (not that all conservatives are bad) that the media is not left-biased as it is owned by large corporations. The full argument is here:

http://www.darkchapter.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=161

The full argument doesn't come in 'til the 5th page but the other pages show some interesting comments as well. Sorry if this doesn't show up as a hyperlink, I'm completely computer inept.

This just pissed me off and it'll probably piss you off too.

Posted by: Pezzini at January 3, 2004 12:05 PM

I got filtered... that was supposed to be:

... news stories about big scary monsters sell well...

... news stories about happy fluffy bunnies don't...

Posted by: Adam at January 3, 2004 12:05 PM

Your work here is done :)

Posted by: Devil Girl at January 3, 2004 12:22 PM

I was the only fat kid in my high school. All of the other guys in my graduating class were atletic jocks. And, to the best of my knowledge, I was the only serious video gamer. If video games make kids commit horrible acts of violence, why was I (a video gamer) on the receiving end of violent acts from non video gamers? Believe me when I say that I am the least violent person (except the pope) that you will ever meet. I do love Grand Theft Auto: Vice City but, I don't want to eat your children. Violence comes from your enviroment and personality. People just use games as an excuse.

P.S. I lost most of the weight

Posted by: Michael Hartman at January 3, 2004 12:27 PM

Thank you. I was so pissed off, reading about this, and wondering how the hell little ol' ME could get the word out there about it - now I don't think I have to.

Posted by: Aeire at January 3, 2004 12:29 PM

That is the Libral Media they never get the story correct. So I watch Fox News which is Fair and Balanced.

Posted by: Sherrie at January 3, 2004 01:11 PM

P.A. - Do it again! ...and again and again and again. Eventually they won't be able to ignore it, or de-emphasize your part in it or your intentions. Even if they do, as you noted, this kind of thing is worth prosecuting for its own sake, credit and notariety notwithstanding. Go cat, go go go.

Posted by: Phil Throckmorton at January 3, 2004 01:13 PM

You might want to correct the link to penny arcade to the one that won't expire when the new newspost is put up on monday. http://www.penny-arcade.com/news.php3?date=2004-01-03

Posted by: Andy at January 3, 2004 01:14 PM

Awesome. Thanks, Andy! :)

Posted by: wil at January 3, 2004 01:18 PM

eeek! Sorry about the multiple trackbacks. My blog is acting up and I had to repost.

Posted by: brendoman at January 3, 2004 01:19 PM

Wil -

Totally right on, man! I can't agree more. So what if I like to run over a hooker or three on Vice City? Does that make me bad? Not necissarily. :)

BTW, liked the DK reference!
"Blaze up the herb, wolf down the beer."

Posted by: Adam (different one) at January 3, 2004 01:42 PM

it has been my experiance that those who act violently during or after playing video games were viloent to begin with. it reminds me of a story from my youth, my mother heard that two kids went nuts and killed a bunch of people after listening to a song by U2. the song was sunday bloody sunday, which is about stopping killing not promoting it. any way my mom freaks out and says we cant listen to U2 any more cause these morons blamed their killing spree on the song. i was 10 years old and i new then that if someone kills people after listening to a song, they were gonna do it any way, its just an excuse. kinda like when a man who beats his wife says "she made me do it!" bull shit they did it cause they wanted to. nothing made them.

sorry for the language, i never cuss. >

Posted by: hammiepie at January 3, 2004 02:07 PM

by the way, props to those gave to the kids. you all truely rock!

Posted by: hammiepie at January 3, 2004 02:08 PM

Wil, that White House link is on the fritz.

Posted by: James Casey at January 3, 2004 02:09 PM

I think we may have to go on a murderous rampage to bring attention to the fact we all feel slighted by the media for not covering the story truthfully /sarcasm. In all truthfulness though, I donated about 50 bucks in gifts for this and I'm peeved that the media isn't picking up on this as a counter to the GTA stories, and what not. but hey what do gamers know...

Posted by: Dennis at January 3, 2004 02:20 PM

The PA Forums have totally made a thread about you.

http://www.penny-arcade.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=41136

Posted by: WeekOldSushi at January 3, 2004 02:21 PM

The Media, just like everybody else that points a critical finger at those of us who like to spend time playing games every now and then, are forced to make a choice between telling the truth and blaming the people that should be blamed, the parents, or using a smokescreen to hide the issues. Unfortunately they find it easier to use the smokescreen and blame the games and not themselves. Everybody is so concerned about "family values" and to me they are overlooking the two most important ones; Responsibility and Accountablility. It's easier to find something to blame than to be responsible for it. Hopefully one day we'll wake up and realize that but I'm not counting my chickens.

Posted by: Jon Carl at January 3, 2004 02:34 PM

Hee hee.. Getting the story right..

The Media has an acceptable margin of 'unverified facts/published errors/stretching of truth' within their profession.. just as the Defense Department has an acceptable margin of Human Loss.

It seems both are getting looser and flabbier with their acceptance.

Posted by: CrassLass at January 3, 2004 03:02 PM

It's silly to say that all gamers are good people. There's no large group of any kind that's composed entirely of good people. Or, for that matter, of bad people. Trying to combat one lie with another is sort of ridiculous.

Posted by: Erin at January 3, 2004 03:30 PM

Yeah, this "miserable failure" was like the one the guys over at neenerneener.net go through yearly when raising money for their annual MS fundraiser... they've been getting a little bit more attention lately (partially thanks to Wil, you rule), but their goals always stay straight:

1) Help who needs helping.
2) Hope someone's watching when they do.

As long as it stays in that order, i think sooner or later we might start bending the opinions of those around.

-Chris

Posted by: Chris @ TFN at January 3, 2004 04:13 PM

tycho and gabe are great guys. oh, and if you get a chance to see the video of gabe drawing a strip, it's amaaaazing!

*a

Posted by: Ana at January 3, 2004 04:15 PM

As much as there is a media bias, left and right both in some instances, but for the media to do something such as disprove a myth that they themselves have created will never happen. News departments and news editors despise being proven wrong, and when something they themselves have created/facilitated is shown to be erroneous, the coverup and ignore machine rears it's ugly head. That's why reading Salon.com and Newsmax.com (yes, together) is useful, each one leans so hard to their respective side, it's often easy to come to the truth, normally a comfortable medium between the two.

Posted by: Scotty Brooks at January 3, 2004 05:12 PM

The gamer bias is quite sad. Though I don't game much anymore--ask any music major how much time they have--I did a considerable amount as a child. Have I caused mass destruction? Have a slain another human? No; thus, I must be lying about my gaming heritage. I shall end my sarcasm here. You are most kind for recognizing that event, even though many news sources choose to not.

Posted by: Eddie at January 3, 2004 06:06 PM

there were 3700 web hits though it doesn't change anything .

Posted by: Shaun at January 3, 2004 07:32 PM

I think it's too cool that you read Penny Arcade. I got turned on to them a few years ago (a mere weeks before IMDB put me on to wilwheaton dot net), and have been a regular reader of theirs and your site ever since. I was proud to donate to Childs Play, it was a fantastic project.

Wil, I must say, my opinion of you has soared over the last two years, and you're on my short list of people I want to meet someday. I've got tix to the show on Wednesday, maybe I'll get a chance to say hi.

TR

Posted by: Travis Richey at January 3, 2004 08:09 PM

I read this on PA yesterday. Admittedly, they're not the clearest writers in the world - there's a nugget of truth that raises my ire, but it's buried in enough vitriol that readers probably miss it during a quick skim.

If they'd just written "We donated $200,000+ in toys to kids, and the media stories about it (a whopping three) mischaracterized it as a $1,000 donation by a Catholic church" - they'd have gotten a lot more attention.

Anyway... The dollar amount smacks of ineptitude, of course. But the other part (not Gabe & Tyco, hardcore gamers, but a "Catholic church" - dunno where tf they got that) - that makes me wonder if it's not an intentional effort to skew the story into the realm of "boring, and thus irrelevant."

- David Stein

Posted by: David Stein at January 3, 2004 09:21 PM

As a member of "The Media," some of the comments being made about that group are bugging me. This monolithic group is, if you *think* about it, made up of literally hundreds and thousands of newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations. And each of those is made up of individual writers and reporters and editors and publishers. Every one of those people has a bias--just as you yourself do. And many of the organizations they work for have an agenda--this is true. But to say all reporters, all publications, all broadcasts don't care about getting it right... that is offensive to me and to the many fine people I know who do care about getting it right and take the time to do so.

Penny Arcade and Child's Play have done something amazing and wonderful for a lot of kids. I truly believe that they did this for the kids, and not to create better publicity for gamers. Now, better publicity for gamers would be a nice side-effect from something like this. But to do that, you have to be media relations savvy--and I'm not sure (from these brief descriptions) that this group was. And to do that, you have to send press releases, and follow up, and woo these people ("The Media") with a cute seasonal story--and find ways to work in your message, repetitively, during the interviews. And if they make errors, you have to call them up and bug them for a correction, instead of just saying, Oh, those damn media, they get everything wrong. They don't run anything that doesn't fit their worldview.

Sometimes that last part *is* true. But sometimes the reporter doesn't have space in her article or her broadcast segment for EVERYTHING you think important. Sometimes the editor cuts it. If you haven't done a good job of selling your story, pushing the aspects you believe in, how will the reporter know what's important? And sometimes, that's not the angle she's going to take, or the angle her editor makes her take. And sometimes omissions aren't lies--sometimes there's just not room, and priorities are made.

That said, I'd like to see this story get some broader play. And blogs like this one are a great start.

Posted by: ej at January 3, 2004 09:38 PM

Wil,
I love video games. I have friends who love video games. I do not consider any of these people a danger to peace. In a video football game I can smash a QB late and not get penalized. I think that most of us know that a game is alot different than reality. The last time I checked, no real harm came from anything that I ever did in a video game.


FG

Posted by: Fabian at January 3, 2004 09:40 PM

Loved the faliure link. I think the post is right on, and I'm glad someone like you with the following that you have is not afraid to say it.

Posted by: Chuck at January 3, 2004 10:08 PM

Penny Arcade was snubbed by the mechanics of the News Media. 70 to 90% of "news" is generated by PR pros and their news releases. If Penny Arcade had sunk a mere $5,000 of its donations into a media campaign, more newspapers would have paid attention. Who, exactly, did Penny Arcade tell? What news media were contacted? Posting the news on its web site is nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

Posted by: Jesus, Mary and Joseph at January 3, 2004 11:22 PM

Gamers will always be discrimintaed against. It's a sick world. And the sickness sells itself.

Posted by: Keith at January 3, 2004 11:47 PM

Kudos Galore to Penny Arcade. And Fuck The Media.

And kudos to you, Wil, for being stand-up enough to recognize good things when it's due.

Good show, old chap... Jolly good show...

Posted by: Eric at January 4, 2004 01:13 AM

I have no argument with mature gamers, I'm just concerned about certain games desensitizing children to taking human life in general. And the lack of discernment in some "adults" in allowing kids to play them. As a child I never saw limbs blown away or brains/blood splatter when I played army with the neighborhood kids.
(It took Viet Nam to see that up close.) Why does an eleven year old have to play a snuff game? Isn't there about a million other things to do? Go play outside. Kids learn by watching us so-called grownups. Ever have a four year old yell "asshole!" out the window at a driver?

Posted by: iamayar at January 4, 2004 01:33 AM

Where is Penny Arcade located?

At least in TV news, the first people who have to do something is the local station for that area. So they needed to let the local stations know what they were doing. If they did, and the local stations didn't cover it, that's a mistake...

...unless PA is located in a major city like New York, LA, Chicago, etc. Because there, you're going to have to work harder to get them to cover it. Why? Because "if it bleeds, it leads" brings in ratings. Ratings determine income.

Just so ya'll know, TV stations have tried to do newscasts where crime and destruction weren't the main focus of the news. With a single exception, all have failed to get enough ratings to stay on the air. (exception, KVUE, Austin, TX). If the grand public simply stopped watching crime-ridden news, told the people running focus groups that crime wasn't a priority to them and watched the news that didn't have so much crime and death news, guess what? Things would change. But the public doesn't feel the need to change. They just stop watching. A person who doesn't watch TV, quite simply, has no influence upon the process. All TV cares about, and all it can -afford- to care about, are the people who watch.

If the local stations covered it, then they had to tell network about it. If they didn't, it's probably because they had some intern working the desk when network called to ask what was going on in their town.

Unless, of course, PA is located in too small of a town to have stations with satellite uplinks. Places without uplinks have little chance of getting national exposure until there's a school shooting and networks bring their own sat trucks.

I work for a TV station web site group. Next time PA does this, they can send -me- a press release and contact info and I'll write it up for the group. That'll at least get it to 57 station web sites from NY to LA.

Posted by: Z. Hendirez at January 4, 2004 04:42 AM

Isn't what these guys did actually a tad on the cynical side. What they're complaining about isn't that the kids didn't get their games, but that they failed to manipulate the media into running a pro-gamer message. Well, sorry guys, better luck next time I suppose. One reason they didn't get mentioned is - and I'm going to sound brutal - is that the story as it stands is boring. (I work in the print media in the UK and if I'd received a press release on this, sadly it would have gone straight in the bin for those two reasons). If the games had been refused as "dangerous" the hook could've been "gamers try to do good and are turned down" and every paper within a hundred miles would've been on it. Still, at least some kids had a happier Christmas . . .

Posted by: Adam at January 4, 2004 05:25 AM

I think that people who are defending the media for not covering Penny Arcade's "secondary agenda" of promoting gamers as good citizens miss the point. This isn't a matter of a news story not being covered - it was and woefully incorrectly.

I mean, if this was an issue of dropping stories because they're not on the news agenda, you'd think "catholic school donates $4,000 of toys to local hospital" wouldn't feature. However, that story did, where the story "gamers donate $175,000 of toys" did not. That sounds like a pretty flawed agends to me.

Posted by: Michael Reeve at January 4, 2004 05:38 AM

Z. Hendirez: Seattle. As in starbucks.

Posted by: Andy at January 4, 2004 05:49 AM

To be honest, I have no clue of who you are (as an actor... celebrity). I got here from a link at someone's blog and I was searching for I don't know what. Anyway... enjoyed reading your intro. "I am politically active and aware. I passionately believe in progressive causes, freedom from religion and government intrusion, and the right to privacy -- on line and in your home." Well... I couldn't agree more.
Cheers,
Thaís
(from Brazil - two blogs, but in Portuguese only I'm afraid).

Posted by: Thaís at January 4, 2004 07:46 AM

...those bungholes

Posted by: Lane Fideler at January 4, 2004 08:12 AM

See, what people don't realize, most gamers were severely violent BEFORE they became gamers, like myself. (mostly kidding, I've fixed the problem) I didn't become the nearly time-bomb I was until right BEFORE I finally got the SNES in '96. (second system ever owned, but Intellivision doesn't count, barely remember playing it)

Gamers who eventually turn into 'crazed maniacs' were like that before gaming and gaming itself is just an excuse. The parents couldn't possibly have known or tried to change the kids, too much work. Just plop them in front of the TV, give them video games and hope they don't bother them. It's the being ignored part that upsets the kids, not the playing of games.

People are stupid, 'nuff said.

Posted by: NightShade at January 4, 2004 10:47 AM

You know my computer geek kids, have me watch the movies that go along with the games.
From those movies, they ask questions about government, mankinds involvement with itself, and history. My son named his dog Raziel, the arch angel, whom he wouldn't have investigated, if he hadn't gotten to know the character.
They are the first to invite friends over, when the friends have no where to go. And to ask, when we are going to take these clothes, to these kids. No moral corruption there.
Computer game players, need us to stand up for them, thank you for doing so.

Posted by: Dawn at January 4, 2004 11:15 AM

I am sympathetic to the story.

Where I work, there are three guys who are big gamers. They are the biggest assholes I have ever ever met. The are rude, thoughtless, selfish and unusually cruel. They set the atmosephere for a miserable workplace and I hate them.

So, YES, I think gamers are jerks!

Posted by: Dave P at January 4, 2004 11:51 AM

hey wil, thank you so much for posting that, and a HUGE thank you to Penny Arcade. i think that was a great idea, and i'm just sorry i didn't hear about it beforehand. I totally agree that gamers need to try and get rid of this portrayal they have been given. what about the violence in the news? does that count too?

anyway...thanks again wil..

take care
rach

Posted by: rach at January 4, 2004 11:53 AM

it's been said before and will be again: bad news sells. good news does not. sadly, people don't give a shit about the good things that happen in the world.

gotta love society's "rules."

Posted by: dante at January 4, 2004 01:43 PM

Thanks you, Penny'cade... and thank you Wil, for promoting such a fine humanitarian act.

Posted by: Norcalwriter at January 4, 2004 02:19 PM

Props for the Dead Kennedy's reference

Posted by: Radiate at January 4, 2004 03:09 PM

I like what you have to say!
I enjoyed visiting your site for the first time.
Happy New Year!!!

Posted by: michelle at January 4, 2004 03:41 PM

while I admire the efforts of the Penny Arcade people, (what they did was absolutely outstanding and should have been better recognized), I don't really understand the allure of the games they promote. I do know that the gamers are not murderers- my two sons, Eagle Scouts by the way, certainly don't fit that mode-I just don't feel that wanton mayhem even for entertainment purposes
is necessarily a good thing.On the other hand, using the games as a means to release aggressive tendencies in a fantasy "reality", is much better than doing it in real life. On a final note, kind of related to my familiy's Scouting background, a Scout is taught to do a Good Turn Daily and it is to be done quietly and done without fanfare,public thanks or payment, it is done because it is the RIGHT thing to do and I believe Penny Arcade accomplished this. They will be recognized because you cared enough to make a point of it.

Posted by: GrammaLolly at January 4, 2004 04:21 PM

The story about media bias toward gamers is no more annoying than the fact that the media gives virtually no attention to the thousands of people who use firearms to defend themselves, but one lunatic who misuses a firearm is front page news that is slanted to give justification to the call to deprive everyone of their right to own firearms.

Isn't it funny how one's sense of indignation over media bias is solely dependent upon whether or not it is their ox that is getting gored?

Posted by: Monty Python at January 4, 2004 04:42 PM

Well, I'm not really surprised by that. Heaven forbid that we actually LIKE videogamers!!!!! I know what some people SHOULD do. For those that live in Seattle/Tacoma, they should write to the editors of the Seattle Times and the Seattle PI. Talk about the event and ask why there was no coverage in those newspapers. Make sure that you include the fact that Children's Hospital and Amazon.com participated. MAYBE one letter will be accepted and published. Does anyone know of any other newspapers in that part of the country? Maybe some letters should be sent to the freebies? Those for sure will be published. When I see a worthwhile event or incident not getting coverage, I start sending out letters and e-mails like a mad man. I get results.

Posted by: Scott T at January 4, 2004 05:11 PM

...flame up the herb, wolf down the beer.

just saying hi... cool blog.(also just realised who you are)

Fernando Poo,

Living true dreams in wichita...

(hey man, well this IS babylon)

Posted by: fernando poo at January 4, 2004 08:41 PM

this division in our society between main-stream media readers and internet-news readers is getting ever more extreme. it must have always been the case, that some part of the population was unable to communicate with some other part, mustn't it?

sometimes i try to speak to south-state fundies in chat rooms, and there is just no communication there.

is it desirable to have your social interactions so much limited to be inside a particular group? and if not, is there anything one can do about it? I'm quite sure that will has got hate mail in the past from rabid red-necks accusing him of being the anti-christ (i most certainly have), but i'm not sure one could call that social-interaction...

yours

howey

Posted by: howlingmadhowie at January 5, 2004 12:13 AM

I dont know if everyone saw this but I thought it was funny.

http://www.pvponline.com/archive.php3?archive=19980821

Posted by: Roland of Gilead at January 5, 2004 05:19 AM

Great post! Well done. And well done to Penny Arcade as well. As an avid game, reading these sorts of posts lifts my hard after reading the close-minded witch-hunt stories of the "Media", Capital M.

Posted by: Matt Pollard at January 5, 2004 05:59 AM

This is very strange for me to read.
People don't do good deeds expecting positive publicity spin from it as a reward. Only corporations do that. I would be nice, but to be bitter about it is a little loopy. I don't think it should matter one whit how much publicity this wonderful act got, what matters is the difference this made to the kids.

The violence thing is pretty easily refuted, I think Boggie Nights said it best. To paraphrase: "Hey if this was the cause of all that violence we would all stop tomorrow, I'll go home and (play games) on my own time."
The simple spin that games cause it is merely to sell newspapers. This usually ends the discussion if it comes up at parties.

Posted by: zenk at January 5, 2004 09:32 AM

It occurs to me that it wasn't our generation who dropped the atomic bomb on the civilians of Hiroshima, nor did we lead the genocidal war against the Jews, nor did we lead a horde of Mongol barbarians clean across Asia in a frightening series of bloody massacres - no, we're guilty of playing games.

Games that train us to kill.

Which is odd because as a species it's not something we've ever had to really work at doing this killing lark - it has kind of come natural, without the aid of the media, for at least (depending on your belief) 5 thousand years.

But then with government, politicians, right wing nutjobs, racists, bigots and various religious zealots it's not as if we needed any help promoting the art of homicide in recent times.

In my experience, Gamers and a more than healthy portion of the Internet world is made up of some of the most liberal, even minded, inoffensive, unassuming persons.

I guess none of the media ever played Cowboys+Indians at school (or 'Army' as it was in my days)? Oddly enough, of all the games banned from the playground - it was the ones that invited the kids to run freely and with gay abandon, whilst the ones involving play violence where quite fine, providing we didn't bust up the girls games being played in their tight nit formations.

Posted by: DC at January 5, 2004 09:45 AM

Don't ever for a second think that the media will actually take part in vindicating an area of society, that is being used to take the heat off various lobby groups that support the media.

Lobby groups like the NRA for example.

It's really no surprise that the efforts of the gamers who read Penny Arcade (not to mention the guys that run it) have been blatantly ignored by the media.

The video games industry has been given a bad rep for years now. It's been used as an excuse to cover up; screwed up antiqucated laws, lack of good parenting and oh so many other faults of the parents and government.

Your child plays video games for 10 hours a day and you don't do anything about it? Then perhaps I should call in child protection services while they take you off to jail oin charges of child abuse and neglect?

Video games console are NOT parents. And the people that MAKE video games (myself included) are NOT your consience.

These parents have grown up in an age of convenience and over indulgence, and still refuse to look at themselves for the reasons that thier children messed up.


Posted by: rusty at January 5, 2004 10:47 AM

Forgive me for not joining the "THE MEDIA hates us!" whining, but I can't help notice that Penny Arcade's version of the story implies they only contacted a single TV station. Seems a bit thin to generalize about "The Media" based on that, doesn't it, Wil? Did PA send out a press release? Did they contact any newspapers? Did they complain to the station when the facts in the story were wrong? If not, then the problem may not be with "The Media," Wil.

I mean, come on. Let's learn some basic PR techniques before we go blaming "The Media" for not beating a path to our door. Anyone with half a brain could pitch a story to a news outlet that turns the "bad video gamers" meme on its head. That Penny Arcade doesn't seem to have tried very hard (based on the report you linked) is its own problem, not "The Media's."

Posted by: Todd Morman at January 5, 2004 11:33 AM

Am I crazy to think that this stuff is blown way out of proportion? I am no gamer. Ok I occasionally play Mario Party with my sister and her girlfriend where they insist on beating me to a bloody pulp to become the "Super Star." I don't even know any "gamers." But the thought never occurred to me that they were evil. I do believe that there are idiots out there that write idiotic editorials. Young mothers not unlike Tipper Gore in their fervor to protect her children from EVERYING rather than enlightening them by including them in frank discussions, or religous zealots who see satan everywhere will ALWAYS write and lobby for stupid things. Who takes these people seriously? I don't. And isn't the gaming industry doing pretty well for itself? So I don't think the rest of america thinks that gamers or video games are evil. Do people identify gamers right off the street and clutch their purses a little tighter, or do drivers swerve outta da way when they see a gamer driving in the other direction? No. It's all very silly really. And what about this whole kudos thing for someone who does something charitable? I was taught that charity was to be done without an agenda and anonymously. Tycho's article makes Tycho look like an asshole. Sorry. Anyway, when I read anything, I take it with a grain of salt. Even when I agree with the writer. When I read blatantly prejudice material, I laugh and think "Rediculous!" I believe a lot of people do the same thing.

Posted by: GangstaBitch at January 5, 2004 12:12 PM

This comment is about the journalist's counterpoint. If I could ask that person a question, this would be it:

If, as you say, what we call 'The Media' is comprised of a bunch of extremely hard working individuals doing the best they can, then please tell me why the news in all major papers, and most major online publications seem so uniform? When it comes to, for example, international news, why is it that if a piece of international news makes the front pages, it does so for all US-Centric publications? Why isn't one publication making front page headlines about the wars in Africa, and another about the terrible things going on in Russia?

I believe what you're saying, but I also believe you're looking at the industry from the bottom-up. We, the consumers of your content, are looking from the outside in. We're seeing a trend of uniformity or conformity, to the kind and placement of news, that we find suspicious and alarming.

Real news (whatever that is, exactly) cannot, must not be a popularity contest, so deciding which stories to run based on reader feedback is a bad way to do things if you really believe in your viewpoint. Why? Because we don't know what all the news are to choose from! We can only give you feedback on stuff you already put out! If readers are saying: "More stuff on Bush", that is only because they're already reading stuff on Bush. If they don't know what's going on in the Congo, they can't exactly tell you to go pay special attention to it, can they?

Posted by: Robert at January 5, 2004 01:01 PM

You'll notice the journalist never took the non-collective idiots to task for messing up the PA story.

My thinking is that if "the Media" wasn't driven in same directions like a pack of rabid lemmings, MORE people would have caught the PA story and not less, as they would have converged from different angles, sources, and perspectives.

But hey, we helped out some kids. And some of them will (thanks to the Seattle hospital) grow up to be journalists. I'll wait around for them.

Posted by: Jason Glaser at January 5, 2004 02:09 PM

The "media" is comprised mostly of lazy, poorly-educated joes with delusions of WoodStein. I oughta know--I was a journalist for several years. I couldn't stand the BS and got out. Reporters (Most--not all) are mainly gathering information on unimportant stuff and often twist it to make it sensational. Orthey spend their time covering fluff so their corporate masters can sell papers and advertisements. Case in point: Michael Jackson & Kobe Bryant are "important news" while another dead soldier in Iraq gets a five second mention. Then there is the pathetic local news with its attempts to "Scare you" into watching: "Tonight: The menace in YOUR toilet--for your family's sake, don't miss it!"
Sadly, the public does not seem to care. Give 'em hell, Wil.

Posted by: Alex at January 5, 2004 02:48 PM

From the Metafilter thread linking Wil's post at http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/30551#608161:

I actually saw a piece on Child's Play on the local (Seattle) TV news, though I can't remember which station it was. It was a long piece: probably 2-3 minutes. They mentioned Penny Arcade and interviewed the organizers, who discussed their motivation (redeeming the media image of gamers) in detail. In fact, the segment was teased (repeatedly) with a statement along the lines of "here are some gamers trying to improve their reputation by helping out kids". They also had video from the warehouse where the toys were stored, though I can't remember if they mentioned a dollar value.

I wish the organizers had a list of media mentions, so that we could discuss this issue in a more informed manner. Wheaton seems to be under the impression that the total media exposure for Child's Play consisted of one error-riddled story; I can personally vouch for the fact that this isn't the case.

Posted by: Todd Morman at January 5, 2004 03:24 PM

I hate to be so brief, but Howard Dean said on Hardball that 11 companies control 90+% of media output in the United States.

That may have a reason to do with this one-side-edness.

Best,
Evan.

Posted by: evan at January 5, 2004 07:57 PM

Read



Just A Geek

Dancing Barefoot

The Professor, The Banker, And The Suicide King

Listen



The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

Green Day: American Idiot

Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Watch



The Simpsons: Season Six

Firefly: The Complete Series

The Incredibles

WWdN Sponsor

Act

|Books For Soldiers|

|Electronic Frontier Foundation|

|Media Matters|

|Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting|

|anti-DMCA.org|

Fear

Terror Alert Level

Look