I know that I’ve said that paying attention to tabloid stories is “like getting worked up about a National Enquirer story saying that video games cause AIDS,” but this story still gets me riled up. If you didn’t click the link, and haven’t seen this thing somewhere else, read the first sentence (below) and tell me if it doesn’t set off a few warning bells:
A girl of seven found the words “F*** off and die” on her Disney computer game.
I’m assuming everyone reading this has some experience with both Disney and video games, so the warning bells should be deafening. If you’re a journalist writing about this story, what would you do first:
- Find another copy of the game to see if this is an isolated incident.
- View the game for yourself and see the complete message in context.
- Ask the family if there was anything strange about the game — where they got it, who they got it from, etc.
- Ask someone involved with the game or the video game industry in general to explain what might be going on.
- Make an attempt to contact Disney during the night and run the story without their comment.
If you said (E.), I hear The Sun is hiring.
Luckily, there are bloggers around to fact check this stuff. Both Video-Fenky and Idle Thumbs managed to track down the pirated version of the game (which was edited by hacking group Mode 7) and post screen shots that definitely don’t look like they belong in a Monsters Inc. title. Boomtown found and printed the full version of the pirate text that was referenced above and in the Kotaku blurb. Joystiq, meanwhile, was the only source I could find that ran the story uncritically, only to be thoroughly lambasted in their own comments thread.
None of the biggest gaming news sites seem to have posted anything about the story, which is heartening, given that it’s nothing worth writing about. Then again, it may just be too recent to have made it into this morning’s updates. Let’s see if anyone bites, shall we?