Tabloid muckracking, moral panic, and the mainstream media’s fuss over Fortnite coaching

With every huge online game, there’s an accompanying rush of mainstream fuss over it – it’s in the rules.

For example, Polygon has a piece covering apparent outrage on outlets like CNN, USA Today, and the WSJ over the idea that parents are paying for Fortnite coaches for their children. “The reaction to [the WSJ] story tells us more about our relationships to class, play and trends than it does about what these parents and kids might be doing wrong,” the publication points out.

“There’s a strong incentive to recycle parenting stories that have played out across sports and games, like chess and even cheerleading, to focus on the hot new thing. And yet, if you replaced Fortnite with private lessons for nearly any other activity, you would likely get a less emotionally charged response. You can get tutors in magic, you know. There’s no public outcry about parents who pay to help their kids get better at juggling.”

It’s not just the USA, either, and it’s far worse in the tabloids. Yesterday, Eurogamer exposed a Daily Mirror article from a journalist with an apparent penchant for blaming video games for society’s ills; he explicitly sought out and compensated the counselor of a family that claimed Fortnite literally made their son a “suicidal drug addict.” The ensuing article spans multiple pages and is just as ridiculous as it sounds. Even the Daily Mirror’s games writer said the Mirror’s front-page piece was “complete bollocks.” Ouch.

“There’s no evidence to suggest the Mirror’s Fortnite story was fabricated,” Eurogamer concedes in its excellent investigatory piece. “But when you pull back the curtain and discover how these types of articles are put together, when you understand how some mainstream journalism works, it’s hard not to wonder about the motivations of the parties involved. This kind of story also tarnishes the good work some reporters do in the mainstream media around video games” – not to mention trivializes suicide.

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rafael12104

Lol! This reminds me of an old article I read somewhere (I’ll see if I can find it). The gist of it was that every generation lives with the older generations fear and aversion to change and loss of control. During the Dark Ages, commoners reading and authorship was heresy, for example.

And if you look at it from that perspective, it certainly does seem to be a truism. In my generation, I’ve seen the evils of the Walkman, heavy metal, television, cable, computers, Youtube… (screw it, the list is too long.) You know what I mean.

Fear is the mind killer.

It’s no excuse, however. And that type of irrationality leads to all sorts of populist bullshit that really is harmful. Conspiracy theories of all types. The latest? Qanon.

But there is another truism that is equally true IMO. Such fearmongering doesn’t last and generation after generation just steps through the bullshit.

But idiots like the writer of the Daily Mirror need to be pushed back hard when they emerge.

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Cadaver

I’m not really seeing the generational conflict angle. I think that each generation is largely responsible for the values and ideals of the next. And this isn’t the 80’s. Parents who have teenage kids now likely grew up playing video games themselves, listening to music that their parents disapproved of, etc. This is just desperate tabloid sensationalism. I doubt that even the author of that piece in the Mirror believes in anything he writes. He just does what he does to get paid.

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Peregrine Falcon

What’s muckracking? I’ve heard of muckraking. Is that what you meant?

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Sorenthaz

Coaching in games isn’t anything new. LoL coaching sessions and replay reviews were quite lucrative for some LoL content creators, i.e. LS and Neace/n3ac3y. Folks love educational/coaching material for larger competitive games and it does a good job at generating a niche market/audience. Like the DotA 2 newcomer stream that is done every International nowadays is really helpful and insightful for folks either new to the game or who are still learning the game and figuring out how to get better.

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Jack Pipsam

The outrage machine never ends.

Kids playing outside? OMG!!!!!!! They’re going to get kidnapped, killed, drown and join a gang! The parents should be jailed and their kids taken away!

Kids playing inside? OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These kids are going to be fat, lazy burdens on society. VIDEO GAMES? They’ll become mass-murderers, lose their eyesight and be groomed! The parents should be jailed and their kids taken away!

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McGuffn

Solution: kids should stay on the patio, deck or ground level balcony.

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Thomas Zervogiannis

Reminds me of this:

https://xkcd.com/1601/

Only in place of written media, put games of different sorts throughout the decades.

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Mark Jacobs

Same stories, different days (or in my case, decades).

I date my gaming passion back to the launch of D&D. Same type of crap being thrown at gamers by folks such as exposed by Eurogamer’s piece. Keep it up Eurogamer!

And while the bit about juggling is funny, parents know just how much they are willing to spend to help their darlings compete in sports. At least with games, parents aren’t driving their kids all over the state, pressuring them at every possible opportunity to get better and better so they can win a trophy or make themselves (parents) feel special, spending huge piles of cash on coaches, equipment, time, effort, etc. And in some of the cases, driving their kids to suicide, harming their bodies in ways that will affect the rest of their lives, and putting all their hopes and dreams, in some cases, on a usually futile goal to be professional athletes.

Yeah, but we’re the f*****-up ones that are destroying society!

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Stropp

I believe there is a correlation between impact sports like football and brain damage. It has been established that even receiving one concussion can affect the brain permanently. Some sports people receive many over the years. And here in Australia we’re seeing this reflected in players years later. I figure its the same in the US and other countries.

Theres even been some speculation here that some cases of domestic violence are due to brain injuries altering the personality and inducing aggression.

The worst you can expect from computer games is a dose of carpal tunnel.

One of these days games will be tge preferred choice of parents because of their inherent safety.

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rafael12104

Well said, Mr. Jacobs. I’ve seen it happen. Parent forcing their kids to live out there fantasy life. It doesn’t end well.

Yeah, I remember the hate that D&D got back in the day. All sorts of insane conclusions and recriminations including drug addiction and suicide.

Heh. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

When Esports comes to the Olympics, it will all be worth it. Just you wait.

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Bruno Brito

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McGuffn

I’d be embarrassed if my parents thought I needed a Fortnite coach.

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Fervor Bliss

Toddlers & Tiaras comes to Fornite. Since the parents were never able to battle royal well, they force their children too. Sad but nothing new.
https://www.livescience.com/37559-parents-living-vicariously-through-children.html

Why the mainstream media cares who knows, goes with the video games can cause addiction theme I guess? Those kids should be watching the news all day instead.

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rogbarz

oh well I stopped reading at CNN, CNN just like every other media outlet has been blaming and shaming gaming since … forever.

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silverlock

The little CNN article just said it was a thing they didn’t have anything bad or good to say about it.