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Call of Duty: Not for Limey Coroners

A tragedy and a travesty to report today:

First, the tragedy:  Details are emerging about a 14-year old boy who had committed suicide last year in the UK.  As reported by The Telegraph, Callum Green hung himself with a school tie after claiming "he was being bullied at Audenshaw High School in Audenshaw, Manchester."  As I wrote in my piece on The Hunger Games, or as Pink Floyd satirized so long ago, the government-run school system, be it in America or the UK, is increasingly becoming a place of desperation, bullying, and lower and lower academic standards.  Tragic.

Now the travesty:

The results of the coroner's inquest have now been released and the results are...a joke?  Despite Green's girlfriend saying that "he wanted to run away from home and have a baby with her", and despite having a fight with his "mum" and being "grounded...for staying out late with his girlfriend the night before", and even despite the fact that his mother stated "she believed her son was using Facebook and looking at YouTube videos on the day he died," an incredibly ignorant coroner by the name of John Pollard reached the remarkable conclusion that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was to blame! 

Upon learning of the troubled boy's passion for the game, the crazy coroner said:

 "The age limitations on these various computer games are there for a very valid reason. Why, quite frankly, anybody would want to be playing them, I don't know.  It is very important that young children don't play them or have access to them.  I make a plea with parents to keep a very close eye on their children in that way.”
Then he added - with no sense of the ironic, I would posit - that:

”For whatever reason and it is I’m afraid somewhat mysterious Callum just decided that he was going to put the tie around his neck and suspend himself from the bunk beds."

There you go! Despite the "mysterious" nature of Green's suicide, video games still did it!  Yup!  All that stuff about being grounded, bullying, fights with girlfriends, even Youtube and Facebook (not to pick on Facebook, but kids have used it for cyber-bullying) - they are totally unrelated.   Instead, this latter-day Sherlock Holmes has determined that the influence of video games is soooo powerful that it eclipses the effects of every other aspect of modern culture.  Incredible!  Give this guy a Nobel Prize for postmortem psychology!

How sad.  In America, we would say that Pollard was "a hack" - that is, a guy who is using his office to push his own agenda...which is exactly what is going on here.  Even The Telegraph got in on the anti-video game bigotry act with the factually false statement that MW3 contains  moments of "soldiers killing enemy combatants in scenes which are gruesomely realistic" Clearly, Anita Singh has either never played a moment of Call of Duty and is just talking out of her bonnet, or she is taking her talking points from Pollard because on the spectrum of "gruesome" violence, Call of Duty is downright tame compared to such titles as Prototype or God of War.

What's really going on here is a manifestation of the generational gap.  Just like the Baby Boomers had to suffer through the "those darn kids and their rock and roll!" syndrome from their parents, now Gen Xers and The Millennials need to suffer through "those darn kids and their video games" syndrome.  The Boomers just "don't get" video games, and, as a result, project their worst fears into them.  What is more, the dinosaur media, be it TV, movies, or newspapers, also fear and hate the newest entertainment medium, one that is literally sucking the lifeblood out of their business (i.e., who wants to watch a TV show about a soldier saving the world when I can be that soldier in a video game?). 

Now, there is a point to be made about parents not allowing kids to play games that are rated above their age group - the very same parents who fear video games often do little to educate themselves about them.  But even here Green's mother seemed to be doing everything right:

“Callum was very mature. Kids play worse games than that. He was allowed to play Call of Duty but not other games. He was only allowed a few hours on the PC.
 I banned him from other games where they slash their throats and stuff, I stopped him playing that, but Call of Duty I didn't.”

In fact, The Sun, after again reminding us how MW3 contains "graphically realistic scenes of soldiers carrying out gruesome killings" [notice the exact same description?  Those are called "talking points" that are put out there for lazy journalists to use in their stories - again, probably from Pollard's office, or people sympathetic with his POV], it is mentioned that CoD:MW3 was a favorite of Green and his step dad.  To me, it seems that despite the fact that Green was a bit young to be playing MW3, his parents was actively involved with his gaming life, something that is commendable.

Truth is, it's not Call of Duty that is the villain in this story but Coroner Pollard.  In senselessly politicizing a tragedy, he has not only taken the spotlight off of the real culprits, such as possible schoolyard bullies, but is also inflicting needless grief and self-reproach upon Green's mom who asked:

"Does that make me a bad parent? Because I let him play those games?"

No it doesn't, Mrs. Green.  It just makes your coroner despicable for suggesting the idea. 

Of course, no faux scandal would be complete without the politicians getting involved.  According to The Sun:

"MPs have called for new restrictions on violent video games with Labour backbencher Keith Vaz, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee leading calls for new powers to ban material rather than only apply age classification."

It's at moments like this that I am often reminded that Eric Blair, aka George Orwell, was English and knew all too well the dangers of Big Government, be it Washington, Moscow, or London.

Perhaps the solution is a need for a new rating system?  One made especially for those painfully ignorant of video games?   Perhaps one grade could be "LC: Not Suitable for Limey Coroners"? Or "YJ:  Not suitable for Yellow Journalists"?

BTW:  has anyone seen this story covered on UK gaming sites such as Eurogamer, Rock Paper Shotgun or Kotaku?  Kinda weird that they haven't considering that whenever an American politician or media outlet - particularly that enemy of enlightened progressive thought, FOX News! - is critical of video games, these Fish & Chips boys are ALL OVER the story within seconds of it appearing on the net - with pens dripping venom, no less!  Strange how they missed something like this occurring right in their own backyard. Maybe tomorrow...but why do I doubt it?

EDIT:  Hot off the presses!


Computer games use violence to teach morality 


A TEEN’S suicide has sparked a row over violent computer games.

After Call Of Duty obsessive Callum Green, 14, of Stockport, hanged himself, coroner John Pollard warned parents to stop their kids playing the military game.

Here a veteran of real wars gives his view.

"THERE have always been people that claim video games are bad for you.

"They’re probably the same people that were worried when films first became 'talkies' and then got themselves worred about the switch to colour cinema from black and white.

"It’s the same argument but for a different format and a new generation.

"The criticisms of games such as Call Of Duty are quite unfounded. After all, it’s the same as the games we used to play as kids.

"The characters in games are now as culturally iconic as the likes of David Beckham. And they’re probably better role models than most in normal life.

"Because, ultimately, the heroes in these games do the right thing. These games are teaching lessons of morality through a well-known medium — violence.


"It’s definitely a generational thing which is causing the criticism of Call Of Duty — people just don’t get it."

Read more:

Leave it to legendary SAS hero Andy McNab to understand what is really going on!  Good for The Sun!  Wait a minute...isn't that the paper of that evil Rupert Murdoch / FOX News guy?!?  How could HE be the defender of video games? Snicker.

BTW:  that was an unexpected reference to impeached former president Bill Clinton.  :)


  1. Day 2: still no mention of this story by the UK gaming press.


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