Games to blame?

The Birmingham Post carries this report about the Street Weapons Commission’s recent visit to Birmingham:

Video games that glorify gangs and soap operas with violent storylines are leading young people into a life of crime, says a mother whose son was stabbed to death. Ann Oakes-Odger told a panel of experts in Birmingham led by former Prime Minister’s wife Cherie Blair that she believed over-exposure to such images meant many young people lived in a “twilight world” between reality and unreality…

Her criticism of video games came days after the launch of the 18-rated Grand Theft Auto IV, which features gangs, guns and street violence.

It’s an old argument that tends to polarise opinion. Do video games and TV storylines merely reflect life as it already is, or can they normalise extreme behaviour and make violence (for example) just that bit more acceptable?

Dunno. But we do know that Soul Control, a video game about knife and gun crime developed by young people, brings gang culture action to the streets of South London. Watch the intro video here for an explanation of what it’s all about:

The overall idea is to allow people to see how easy it is to fall into these patterns of criminal behaviour, and how that can make your normal everyday life that much more difficult…

Computer games are often blamed for this kind of damaging effect on society. We wanted to turn this on its head a bit and give young people the chance to actually use this medium to talk about the issue themselves and show perhaps other people what it’s like to be a young person and how easy it is to get into that – and also the repurcussions of that kind of lifestlye.

GTA IV it’s not – the graphics and gameplay are pretty basic – but it’s certainly gritty. So far, my hoodied avatar has been recruited as a drug mule by a gang member and been busted by the cops while carrying crack. Guess he I could be making some wrong life choices…

Download the game here (anch check out the YouTube channel here)

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