Australian morning television show 'The Today Show' did a special section on 'Fortnite', posting an excerpt to Twitter in which an "expert" claims the game is very detrimental for children.
The immense popularity of free-to-play game Fortnite Battle Royale has brought a lot of increased attention from the mainstream media into the world of gaming, but not all of it has been positive.
There have been numerous TV specials, particularly in the United States, where so-called experts give their view on the game, such as Good Morning America which warned parents about how it 'affected the brain'.
They even unashamedly linked Fortnite and other shooter games with the recent school shooting in Florida - despite there being no link whatsoever.
So the recent episode from network 9Now's 'The Today Show' is not the first to label and blame Fortnite for being a very negative pastime for kids, but it is perhaps the most unapologetic, stating flat out:
It’s proven that VIOLENT games like Fortnite increase aggressive behaviour and a lack of empathy in players.
Of course, this has not been proven. In fact, if anything the opposite has been proven, but nonetheless, the expert invited on to the show doubled down on this claim, citing apparently "130 evidence based pieces of research" which she said show:
"Violent games like this increase aggressiveness, increase angry thoughts, increase aggressive behavior. [...] It decreases empathy - what it's actually doing, it's aim is to kill, hurt, maim."
Predictably, this video received a lot of backlash on Twitter, with the show and guests questioned over the accuracy of the report.
It's proven that the Today show will MAKE things up so that they audience will watch them!— scree (@scree06) June 13, 2018
Even the lightest bit of reading on this topic would make it clear that no good-faith studies in the area have found a link between playing games & increased aggression while in fact finding many mental health benefits. This lady is lying. You should apologize to your audience.— Danny O'Dwyer (@dannyodwyer) June 13, 2018
This isn’t even a true statement. It’s actually very well documented and studied disproving this claim.— Ryan Wyatt (@Fwiz) June 13, 2018
Yeah I'm doing my dissertation on this guys. Hate to break it but no. While studies have shown that some games increase violent affect, numerous others show that co-op experiences (like Fortnite) decreases agressive tendencies and INCREASES social connection and social capital.— Professor Politics (@wildpolinerd) June 13, 2018
Many recent studies continue to debunk the often reported myth that violent video games of any kind lead to violent tendencies, aggressive thoughts or lack of empathy.
A January 2018 study from the University of York roundly concluded that there is "No evidence to support link between violent video games and behavior."
Further, a 2018 psychology study found "No Evidence for Desensitization in Empathy for Pain after a Violent Video Game Intervention", calling it a 'myth'.
This piece from The Today Show is not the first to make these claims on national television with little evidence to support, and it will likely not be the last as games like Fortnite continue to take over the screens of many.
Presumably, the two children featured playing the game in the clip immediately began to fight each other with pickaxes after the camera turned off - shame the footage did not include this.