Video games in the general press

Video games in the general press

I don't remember a moment in my life when I wasn't accompanied by video games. My coming into this world was, in fact, enriched by a Commodore 64, which my parents had bought the year before. My fate was already sealed, so to speak. Of course, video games have been less important at certain times but, in general, they represent a permanent presence in my existence. I could say the same for the average reactions of people, adults in particular, when they learned about my passion for gaming. It never went beyond a vague annoyance or direct mockery, the equivalent of the modern "but why don't you get a real job?".

Definitely, it is an experience shared with many other players, especially those who started a few decades ago. All in all, however, I do not blame these "adults" too much. On the other hand, they grew up in a society that treated video games as a passing fashion first and, then, as an evil to be eradicated at all costs. At least, in most cases. If there is one trend that has united the generalist press, it has always been to have always treated video games as an alien matter. In the 90s, then, they were a mine of various indignations for the public, used as a side dish for the crime news topic of the moment: the satanic sects or the stones from the overpass. I confess that as a young man I was under the illusion that, since all my peers were gamers, the situation would one day change. Our revenge as gamers would come - in some way. This was not the case, but this is another matter.

Let's retrace those years, observing how the press looked at video games with the help of articles published between the nineties and the two thousand. The video game covered by newspapers and magazines such as La Repubblica, Corriere della Sera and Panorama.

“Super Mario Kills You Too”

"Game Over" by David Sheiff In this curious 1993 article by Bernardino Campello, the occasion seems to be the review of the book "Game Over "by David Sheiff, still a good introduction to Nintendo's presence in America, albeit with some outdated figures. Campello does not seem to have read it, or at least seems to have decided to completely ignore the text. The book, on the other hand, becomes a springboard for a curious invective against Nintendo and Super Mario. The NES, says Campello, is a "machine that applies to video and hypnotizes children for hours (but adults don't joke too)". We accept the description of the console as if it were one of the sirens of the Odyssey and move on.

The journalist does not take long to identify in the mustachioed plumber an enemy for young minds: "protagonist of a series that never ends, Mario teaches children that they must kill in order not to be killed". Ironically, among all the series of the time, between Contra (or Probotector in Europe), Castlevania and Double Dragon, I think it was already a curious choice, today really ridiculous, with Super Mario for violence. Campello seems unaware that Nintendo, at the time, practiced a draconian policy against sex and violence, as well as against the religious symbols that - in Europe and America - were purged without mercy. The journalist goes on to denounce Japan's cultural hegemony over the minds of the little ones. It is true that at the time the Japanese cartoon, what today we would call "anime", was omnipresent, on this the journalist had seen well. It is a pity that he did not care about video games, underlining in conclusion how Nintendo was more fortunate than anything else, in earning the place of market leader. On the other hand, never recognize the skill of a Japanese company ... I had the opportunity to ask Campello, recently, if he had really read David Sheiff's book, but all he replied was that "not would have chosen that title because it has nothing to do with the content of the article ".

“ Vade Retro, Videogame ”

Also in 1993, Daniela Camboni on Corriere della Sera, interview two "experts" of the damages caused by the excessive use of television and video games. The article begins on a truly traumatic subject for a gamer: "if your child has lost his head over Bet and Up or Super Mario [...] he spends all afternoon with Shoot or Run or Plat-form Game (The game of platforms ) don't scold him ". Not only did the reporter misspell the terms, but she went to use genres as if they were game titles. As if to talk about music, we said "if your son has lost his head for Metal or Trap ...". A fairly heavy oversight that would have been easy to correct with a minimum of research.

This first mistake does not pay for the dose, with the expert naming some of the most dangerous games for children: "games by creepy names: Beat Hard, Shoot and Run, Plat-form Game ". You still frankly do not understand what is disturbing about the noun platform. While we all agree that excessive use of TV and video games is deleterious (like excess in anything, I dare say), I seem to notice that the article slyly glosses over teens and adults with the hobby of video game. Of course, at the time a smaller percentage, but certainly very present, especially on the home computer side. What to do to protect young minds? Buy the child games where he has to use his brain: find objects and solve puzzles. In short, let your child play only graphic adventures, so instead of a "video intoxicated", he will grow a frustrated who will turn around with his pockets full of objects that he will try to use with everything that comes within his reach, continuing to babble about threesome monkeys. heads and "very appropriate, fight like a cow".

“Quiet Verona discovers death games”

The city of Verona, fortunately not yet devastated by video games The journalist Laura Laurenzi was a rather permanent presence in the period of the stones from the overpass. We remember her for having reconnected crime news to video games several times, in a rather libertine way. Speaking of the Veronese boys arrested for the notorious stones from the flyover, Laurenzi reports an interview with a martial arts teacher, who apparently did not even know them: "we have lost the sense that to get a result you have to work hard. They prefer videogames, where you do everything without doing anything, you fly the plane, you drive a Ferrari, you fight, you make war ". In short, the inevitable refrain that blames young people who get everything immediately with video games (you can see that she had never played Mega Man huh?), Removing any parental responsibility. In fact, video games can be traced in the text at least three times, the parents not even once.

"Children of boredom, the Nintendo boys, that same boredom from comfort that today pushes them to kill for fun, psychologists say." The tendency to unite the videogame company / console name with boys seems to be a passion that unites all the Italian press of the time, which will re-adopt it at every possible opportunity, even with PlayStation. Indeed, I am surprised that the Republic today does not report criminal gangs called Twitch Kids or Trap Boys. Laurenzi was also an obligatory presence on every Christmas article of the mid-nineties, in which she sadly noticed the invaluable presence of the video game in the wishes of the children. Then, in 2001, ours drew science fiction scribbles, regurgitations between Gibson and Ballard, describing Roman hairdressers who seem to have existed only in someone's fervent imagination: "[...] New Age settings massage armchairs, one for each client, equipped with personal computer equipped not only with playstation but of course also with Internet connection, in case the lady feels the irrepressible desire to go online or send an email during the streaks. ".

The videogame below kidnapping, from Carmageddon II to GTA

Alberto Gaino in La Stampa was an obvious fan of seized video games, as well as of the amazing adventures of deputy prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello. The magistrate made himself famous over time for several burning investigations, including the one on the Di Bella method (archived), the secret FIAT archive (finished in prescription) and on the Aulin (archived). However, it is also right to recall the causes successfully carried out, including that on Eternity. Between December '97 and July of the following year, the journalist reports on the kidnappings of Carmageddon, Grand Theft Auto (here translated in an extremely pedestrian way "the English opera: the great car theft") and Carmageddon 2.

Inevitable close to the magistrate, there is the psychologist Paolo Crepet who in the article starts at full speed with "Grand Theft Auto is preparatory to criminal pedagogy". Definitely a statement that should be studied in all universities, especially because it refers to a title with a top-down view and very few actual details on the aforementioned criminal activities. The psychologist, in fact, launches into a curious review on the title of DMA Design, which he defines as less advanced than Carmageddon and therefore "less seductive". Crepet then apparently proposed to Guariniello a study in which a group of teenagers would play Carmageddon and the other "normal video games" (unfortunately there are no examples). The magistrate refuses, fearing that the boys will become guinea pigs, on the other hand why could you convince teenagers to play video games? The article concludes by hoping for measures to protect minors in the face of this dangerous means.

Even on the sequel to Carmageddon our Gaino does not spare himself, sadly commenting that "the time has passed in which the negative publicity of a judicial investigation was collected in silence. Today it is exploited". I'm not sure what times the journalist is referring to, but inquiries and media noise have always increased the sales of a product or an artist. Gaino then continues with some objectively difficult references to understand such as "there are the scraps obtained virtually on the disk by lightly pressing the letter zeta on the keyboard". The whole article on Carmageddon II, in short, looks like the classic analysis made with very little knowledge of the cause of the video game world. But Gaino must be recognized: at least he seems to have really played Carmageddon.

“The home computer is still a game”

The logo of the FuturShow in Bologna Article on Repubblica by Andrea Chiarini , it is a reportage from the Futurshow in Bologna in 1997. In itself, the argument is harmless and there are no moralisms, but the journalist is unable to avoid some references that arouse perplexity. Top: "Super Mario Bros' grandfather started working in 1986, in video games hidden in the corners of bars: 100 lire a game". A complicated sentence to interpret, I assume that the journalist confused the year of release of the original Mario Bros in the arcade, as well as thinking that there was a relationship between the Mario of 1997 and that of 86? Ours continues "they allow themselves to be touched docilely and respond in a low voice, while in the din of the nearby stands, today's teenagers scramble keyboards and joysticks without restraint [...]". Even with the utmost effort, the image of a "docile and low voice" game room, frankly, seems far from reality.

The story of the Futurshow continues, with some interesting testimonies from the owner of the distributor C.T.O. Marco Madrigali, as well as a small focus on Nirvana X-Rom. We move on to the console sector, even here the journalist proves that he does not have very clear ideas. Sony, Sega and, finally, Nintendo are named as the "latest entry into the industry". On the other hand, the console, he tells us, seems a suitable platform for those who want to play on a budget (and even on this there should be said, especially for the time). Chiarini concludes by observing how, just peek into the "Futurshow souk" to find do-it-yourself solutions for the PC as well, like "a steering wheel that costs 109 thousand lire" and that, therefore, magically, would be able to replicate the console experience.

“Whoever buries the child alive wins”

Bully, what a nostalgia! Probably one of the most well-known articles of recent years, published in Panorama in November 2006. By Guido Castellano, it is a preview of Rule of Rose, in which gory contents and not at all suitable for minors are denounced, and then continue attacking Postal II and Bully (Canis Canem Edit). The main problem of the good Castellano article is that, for the most part, it describes completely fictional facts, not found in the games mentioned. Starting with the title, "burying the girl alive" in Rule of Rose is not part of the gameplay at all, but is just a nightmare of the protagonist in the introductory video, moreover not playable. On Postal 2, Castellano says that "gays must be beaten", while he does not appear at all in the objectives of the game. The journalist also takes it out on Yakuza, describing him as a title "where, in order not to be a" little man "and become a" man of honor ", the only way is to kill, beat and rob". Anyone who has played even a couple of hours on the Sega title, I think you know very well that the message of the series has never been this, quite the contrary. We will talk about it in a specific article, but Panorama caused a hive of controversy, especially at an international level.

In conclusion

Other young people ruined by video games The trend that can be easily analyzed from this roundup of articles is that in the general press there was often talk of videogames in a partial way. In the best of cases, they reported scraps of generic studies carried out abroad or contributions from self-styled experts in the field. There seemed to be a clear desire to avoid involving journalists and videogame experts, however present. I would like to conclude on a positive note, however, that is to note that in recent years there has been an improvement in the treatment of the video game, even in the general press. This is mainly thanks to the appearance of several people far more experienced than the average journalist. Of course, then when you see videos like this one from Repubblica released in March 2021, with captions that use mocking tones and pitiful descriptions ("the little room", "the gaming chair"), you realize that there is still a long way to go. .

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