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The Daily Mail and Unrelated Games

The mainstream media is sometimes forced by deadlines to cut corners on research and verification of their news stories. When the failure to double check the validity of the information is combined with the original source’s lack of familiarity with the many types and sources of video game content, then the story becomes twisted by what would in other cases be a minor typographical error.

What does all this complicated language mean? It means when a mother is prosecuted for child neglect because she played an online video game, and the court refers to it by name as Small World, the reporter writes that down and reports that as the title of the “evil Facebook game time waster.” Except the game in question was actually “Small Worlds,” and “Small World” (no plural) doesn’t have an online version, much less a Facebook variant.

And then the newspaper used images from a further unrelated game (Warhammer 40k) to illustrate the issue. The paper later issued a retraction apologizing for the error, but only stated that the name they had used was incorrect, and did not replace the name with another. The Warhammer picture was taken down at the request of the IP owner (woo!) and the story itself has vanished from the Daily Mail website.

However, as with any news, one has to consider the source of the information. While the UK courts are certainly among the best in the world, they are not generally populated by the young or the gamer, but Facebook gamers come from the mainstream, and not just the smart and tech savvy. The Daily Mail is also not a paper for the younger reader, with their audience considered to be the middle of the UK. Middle aged, middle class, and with middling concerns. More likely to frown on any video game use, and more likely to become incensed at the idea of a mother neglecting her children to take care of virtual property.

That the mother neglected her children is a sad truth, and for most people the details of her addiction don’t matter. But for the developers of Facebook games, which have exploded in popularity over the past few years, being known by the correct name is vital. With so many similar games sharing space, the difference of a letter or a word can make the difference between 50 monthly users, and 5,000,000.

Posted in Tuesday: Potpourri.