Touched by a Turtle

18 Mar

bold-tortimerThis is Tortimer, a video game character from the Animal Crossing series. He serves as the mayor of your town in all three of the Animal Crossing games, but he is not a real person. He is a character controlled by lines of code and is only capable of relaying so much pre-programmed dialog. You can usually find him sleeping in his office in town hall, or ambling about on holidays. Journalists in Missouri, however, believe Tortimer is a real person. Jacqueline Lapine, a reporter who gets paid to report factual information of importance to local citizens, believes Tortimer is a sexual predator. Jacqueline is an idiot.

Jacqueline Lapine of Missouri’s ABC17 News claims that Animal Crossing: City Folk is being used by sexual predators to trick children into trading photos online. Lapine is quick to note that Tortimer, a computer-controlled character, “could be the man in California police are warning about tonight that asks for images of Missouri children.”


I’m not sure who was the first journalist to decide that honesty, research, and integrity (staples of good journalism) were not required in reporting about video games. Lapine takes this practice a step further by ignoring the basics of news reporting.

It’s expected in any negative news story dealing with video games for the reporter to get basic factual information about the game wrong or to blow it way out of proportion. Aside from believing Tortimer to be controlled by a depraved adult in California, Lapine is apparantly ignorant regarding the thorough process of trading friend codes Nintendo requires players to go through before they’re able to communicate online.

The idea is that you should always know who you’re playing with online because you had to actively give them your friend code and enter their own into your game. If a child is somehow communicating with someone they don’t know, that probably means they shared codes with someone online, something that parents should be monitoring to begin with if the child is young enough to be manipulated by strangers in a video game.

Lapine’s report is also lacking in actual information regarding the supposed threat at hand. She mentions a man in California who asked for pictures from children in Missouri, but never offers another word regarding the matter. Equipment for an online task force against sexual predators is mentioned but is never explained one bit other than the fact that they apparantly can’t afford the equipment (probably because they’re too ignorant to sit down and understand how communication works on the Wii.) After watching and reading the report, nothing is actually learned. There are no facts, just the spreading of ignorance.

This isn’t the first time video games have been accused of exposing children to sexual situations. Fox News’ shockingly ignorant report on the “full digital nudity” of Mass Effect, a game with “the ability for players to engage in graphic sex,” stands out as one of the lowest instances of mainstream news media throwing ethics and good reporting out the window to prey on ignorant parents.

Here is the graphic sex scene that sparked the controversy:

Pretty tasteful for a lesbian, alien sex scene. You can see far more graphic scenes of sexuality on MTV at any time of the day than you can in Mass Effect. Fox News made the brilliant move of inviting Cooper Lawrence, a woman who had never played the game and was just trying to sell her book to scared parents, to speak against the game. Thankfully, Geoff Keighley was there to speak on behalf of gamers everywhere.

Anyone watching either of these two “news” reports should find it disgusting that journalists, people who get paid to research and report to the absolute truth, are slapping together segments meant to terrify you, not because they care about your children, but because they want higher ratings or they want to sell their new book.

Just listening to the Fox News team have a short panel discussion about video games at the end of that report should solidify the cold, hard fact that none of them are qualified to tell you anything about video games. They are so far beyond being out of touch that they’re only doing harm.

In the end, video game fans enraged by Fox News’ and Cooper Lawrence’s ignorance went on Amazon and gave Lawrence’s book the lowest reviews possible, claiming that depsite not having read the book, they were confident that it was horrible and inappropriate for children.


2 Responses to “Touched by a Turtle”

  1. The Pig King March 26, 2009 at 8:48 PM #

    I think that if they’re right, we have a bigger problem in the fact that we have sentient machines trying to molest children.

  2. chasmang March 27, 2009 at 5:58 PM #

    THAT would be actual news. Maybe Lapine is so far ahead of the story that she forgot to let us in on the bigger picture.

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