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The Wright Stuff's back. 'Are games worse for kids than TV?'

WRONG headliner Matthew Wright says he's the subject of gamers' "ill-informed rants"

Uh-oh. Weekday topical debate show The Wright Stuff - that of CVG WRONG campaign fame - has re-aimed its sights towards the world of gaming.

In a Tuesday morning debate titled 'Video games: worse for kids than TV?', host Matthew Wright and guests including radio presenter Natalie Pinkham, comedian Dominic Holland and author Anthony Horowitz discussed the pros and cons of settling the kids down in front of the "goggle box" versus letting them indulge in our wonderful (or not so wonderful, if it's your job to flog a TV panel show) pastime.

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After Wright called CVG readers "brain-dead computer nerds" on national television and then actually blamed games for the shooting of a teenager in London, you can imagine the sort of narrow-minded tosh we were expecting to come out of our television.

But, to be fair, Wright did his best to play the role of a more moderate chair. Which means he didn't outright blame GTA for any atrocities in this episode.

In a revelation that almost single-handedly rights all his past wrongs, he also outed himself as the closet gamer we always secretly suspected him to be ("It's very patronising to assume [Call of Duty] is all I know about games. I have a PlayStation 3... that I wired in myself.")

Kicking off the debate, the host pointed to research by Queen's University in Belfast, claiming that playing games could be better for kids' health than watching television.

"But that's only one part of the argument," Wright noted. "What are these games doing to childrens' minds?"

Here we go. "Three quarters of 12 to 15-year-olds have a games console in their bedroom and given that six out of the ten most popular games at the moment are violent shoot-em-ups, is that a concern?

"Some child development experts fear games like [Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3] make kids aggressive," he added, ending with this doozy: "and having been on the receiving end of countless abusive and ill-informed rants from the gaming community, I reckon the experts might be on to something."

Surely your countless efforts to incite reaction from the games community - inspiring the WRONG campaign, calling us brain-dead and all that - had something to do the heated response, Matt?

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The intro was followed by the usual 'games make kids violent, teach 'em nothing, mine play outside with sticks' discussion cycle you'd expect from a panel that includes a boarding school vet who's best mates with Prince Harry.

Natalie Pinkham (that's her name) openly admitted she's "never got the whole gaming thing" and said she'd rather her kids be doing "something constructive" with their time, like being "out in a field, throwing a ball".

"Where's the educational value in a game, compared to television?" she asked. "At least you know if you can control the TV that your kid is watching, they're going to gain something from it."

Comedian Holland seemed more involved in popular culture than Pinkham, confessing that his sons would play games "all day" if he let them. Getting back to the subject of the study though, he admitted: "I'm a real cynic."

He added: "The gaming industry is so powerful, so lucrative - they're going commission any research to find what they want to tell us that games are good for kids. That's the nature of business."

Making the most sense was children's author Anthony Horowitz, who turned out to be a bit of a hero, really.

"I'm often as a children's author asked about books versus television, versus computer games and my answer is always the same: some of all of them," he said.

"The Victorians worried about penny dreadfuls [19th century serial stories], our parents worried about television, we worry about computer games, and I don't believe actually that actually any of these things really go more than skin deep."

On the Queen's University in Belfast research, Horowitz dismissed the findings as "nonsense" that "only exists for people like us to have something to talk about in the morning. Where does one go with this? Are crisps worse for you than chips? It's ridiculous." Nail. On. Head.

Phew. We got through a Wright Stuff games debate with no comparisons between PlayStations and guns, no 18-rated game footage aired at 9am and definitely no ridiculous claims that games invented drive-by shootings.

I suppose we should consider this a success.

[ SOURCE: Channel 5 ]

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