Changing of the guard


This is screengrab of John Walker’s page. I will take it down if he objects, but you should know what it looks like, because it’s rather good.

I’m actually back in an office today – woo hoo hoo! – and so I just have time for a small post about something rather interesting that happened at the weekend. Unless you’ve been locked in an isolation ward for the last month or so, you’ll be aware that the Olympic Games are currently being held in London right now, and last Friday the opening ceremony took place. It lasted for several hours and contained some of the most bizarre scenes I’ve ever clapped eyes on in my life – one of which involved a tribute to to the NHS, which featured kids bouncing on trampoline hospital beds. Mind you, it was directed by Danny Boyle, the man who gave us Shallow Grave, Millions and A Life Less Ordinary so I guess we should have some sort of Day Glo otherwordly quality to it. What japes!

For the most part the ceremony was deemed to be an extraordinary success – and easily Boyle’s most consistent offering since Trainspotting – but, naturally, as is the case with everything covered by the Fourth Estate in this country, it did give rise to stories that contained the off whiff of controversy. Apparently some MPs tried to kibosh the NHS trampolines before the Games got underway, while others called it a Trojan Horse for socialism. Then there were commentators who gave their two-cents on it, too – one of whom earned the righteous indignation of anyone with their head screwed on correctly.

What has this got to do with video games, you ask? Stick with me…

So the Daily Mail ran a comment piece written by someone whose name I dearly wish I could recall, because it’s since been removed from the Mail’s website. And there’s a reason for this: it stank.

If you really wish to become incensed you can track down a screengrab of it on John Walker’s site, which first alerted me to this article. Prepare yourself before you read it, though; it’s a genuinely disturbing piece of work, which attempts to disguise public health service bashing and ugly racism as an outraged moral scree. As a counterbalance, you can read Walker’s piece in which he cuts the writer and the Mail, and by proxy the paper’s loyal readership a new one.

There’s something that filled me with a warm and fuzzy feeling as I read Walker’s article. Not just because his was a reasoned and well-presented thought-piece, and not just because it burned with an intensity you could use to power the national grid. I loved it in part, because here was an informed and established journalist, working in a field that’s routinely dismissed and demonised by the Mail and its ilk, who was pointing out quite reasonably, that the politics and punditry in the Mail are a palpable danger to people in the UK. You know, the sort of thing the Mail says about games on a regular basis, except with none of the clarity and evidence that Walker’s piece had.

What warmed my tosies even more, was the way Walker’s article was picked up, passed around, retweeted and screamed from the rooftops. Within five minutes of its publication, the Mail had rewritten sections of its original article. Then it pulled it altogether. Now, I’m not saying Walker is solely responsible for this. I’d like to think the circulation of his work had an affect (however small), though.

What I’d also like to believe is that some day, the likes of Walker will be mainstream taste-makers and pundits. They’ll move from specialist to nationals and replace a lot of the fear-mongering, hate-filled nonsense that passes for mainstream punditry. It can only help our collective conscience – and hey, the writing will be a hell of a lot better.

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