The Quiet Man Speaks Out

Iain Duncan Smith adding immeasurably to the debate.

Oh dear.

The Quiet Man, Iain Duncan Smith, has decided that when it comes to videogames and their place in society, his is a voice that simply must be heard. IDS has long been something of a giant on the gaming scene, having designed six highly regarded deathmatch levels for Quake 3 some years ago (Br0k3nS0c13ty_DM2 is still considered something of a classic by the diehards) and written some extremely influential pieces for most of the higher profile gaming publications. His address last year to the Games Developer’s Choice Award was very thought provoking and had a huge impact on some of last year’s indie hits. His reasoned, well-thought-out statements on videogames and their influence add a welcome voice to the debate, and can’t fail to increase understanding of games and gamers in the British public.

Oh hang on. No, it appears I’ve gone and got my facts mixed up. I’m terribly sorry. It appears that actually Mr Duncan Smith is just indulging in some alarmist mouthing off to appeal to middle aged voters with a poor understanding of games culture, and has (and I feel fairly confident in saying this) never played a videogame in his life.*

Silly me.

IDS’ throwaway addition to the discussion is entirely worthless, naturally. Unless his think tank has seen a wide variety of respectable research contradicting the 2008 Byron Report, I would suggest that his most useful contribution would be (and I mean this in the kindest possible way) for him to shut his face. His comments on the matter have as much validity as me lecturing on the history of the Hellenic city states. He should be ignored. Unfortunately, IDS is a popular man amongst Cameron’s upper echelons and perfectly capable of influencing our future PM on matters of social policy. That “broken Britain” phrase is a Duncan Smith favourite, after all. In the next government, IDS may be in a position to affect British gamers – and not, I would chance my arm, for the better.

This is particularly unfortunate because recently, games and gamers had experienced a small step forward – Gamers’ Voice was recently set up by Labour MP Tom Watson to act as an embroyonic pressure group for gamers to move towards a more balanced perspective in the British Government. You lot really should join as it is an excellent idea, and Watson should only be encouraged in championing games and the games industry. Gamers get demonised, at least in part, because they are an easy target – gamers, accepted wisdom would have it, are teenagers and young men with little interest in voting, or in politics in general. If this group can grow into something large, into a voice which the parties will feel unable to ignore, then people like IDS might feel a greater urge to be a little more reasonable.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to prepare for my ‘Cricketing Heroes of Ancient Athens’ lecture…

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*If Mr Duncan Smith feels the need to correct me about this, please do so via the comments thread. I would be delighted to be proved wrong.

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