Killed By A Heart Condition: Daily Mail Exploits Teen’s Death

By John Walker on July 16th, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

Reacting every time the British Daily Mail posts one of its clickbaiting articles about videogames is a mistake. It brings the nasty, hypocritical rag the attention it so craves, letting it spread its hate further. But then there’s a story like today’s that is so revolting, so opportunistic, that a response is necessary. A place to point people toward if they’ve read it and are scared. Balance for the universe. Today the tragic death of teenager Jake Gallagher is being exploited by the newspaper to continue its campaign to create pointless fear in the minds of parents when it comes to videogames.

Jake Gallagher died of a heart condition called Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS). The dramatically titled illness is precisely what it says – a sudden death caused by arrhythmia (abnormal electrical activity in the heart), where autopsy shows no identified heart disease. In the US alone it kills around 200,000 people a year. Undiagnosed in the teenager, it wasn’t possible for his family to know that he was in any danger. So it is a horrific tragedy that Jake died from this condition, that could have been triggered by anything, at any time. The Daily Mail chose to headline the sad story of his death with,

“Killed by a video game”

Which is a lie. He was killed by a heart attack. The trigger for his heart attack, say his family, was when he became over-excited while playing Sonic The Hedgehog. Jake could equally have had his condition triggered by any number of other stimuli, and then we would likely have never heard of him, as his death wouldn’t be useful for the paper to score some points.

Becoming over-excited by playing Sonic may sound peculiar in and of itself. But what’s even further buried in the story, thrown away in a sentence about something else entirely, is that Jake had Asperger’s Syndrome – a form of autism.

“Jake, who had Asperger’s Syndrome, had not had heart screening, which has not been made compulsory by the government.”

This is a common writing trick that’s used by the Mail, where a fact needs to appear in a story for there to be even a fraction of honesty taking place, but is thrown in at the start of a sentence that ends on a completely different subject. This switch is designed to have you dismiss the first fact, and focus on the matter of screenings, which had been previously discussed by the article. Asperger’s usually causes a person to find social interaction and non-verbal language very difficult, and more relevantly, to obsess on certain repetitive activities. It may be book reading, fact learning (seemingly inevitably about trains, in my experience), or of course video games. The repetitive nature of games is a perfect fit for someone with Asperger’s, and it’s no surprise whatsoever to learn that someone in Jake’s situation may form a keen attachment to a game like Sonic.

The tragedy is that the SADS was undiagnosed in a teenager with Asperger’s – someone who is by nature prone to emotional outbursts and over-excitement with particular stimuli.

The Gallagher family have called for routine heart screening of young people to identify such conditions early on. This may have made for a good headline for a story about their son’s death – Family Campaigns For Heart Screenings After Death Of Their Son, for instance. Not, “Killed by a video game.” But that doesn’t fit the cruel agenda of spreading irrational fear that the paper identifies as one of its key selling points.

The paper’s article concludes with three giant photographs. Two large shots of the grieving mother and family, sandwiching a photograph of an original Xbox, to ensure the message is as clear as possible: This object, in your home, is deadly, and could kill your children at any moment. It’s a stupid, pointless lie, and one that entirely diverts attention away from the cause the family are trying to highlight: their desire that heart screening be routine.

For more information on SADS, the British Heart Foundation have a downloadable booklet. Giving them money is pretty helpful too.

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177 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    Dear Daily Mail, UP YOURS.

    • Chalky says:

      I just died reading the daily mail headline. Please ban the daily mail. Thanks in advance.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE DEAD WHILE IN THE DAILY MAIL
      * Shocking report reveals that The Daily Mail knew intimate details about thousands of grizzly murders.
      * Majority of all forum users say The Daily Mail must be stopped.
      * No comment from The Daily Mail.
      * More about The Daily Mail murders at 6.

    • Snids says:

      The problem isn’t the Daily Mail. The problem is people want to read the Daily Mail.

      • Faxmachinen says:

        In that case:

        DAILY MAIL READERS REJOICE AT NEWS OF LITTLE BOY’S DEATH

      • Hendo says:

        Although I kind of see what you are getting at, it’s not something which can be helped. We can control the flow of drugs and guns, not the stupidity of those who use them. This can only be influenced by education.

        The same applies to newspapers – we can (hypothetically) regulate their content, not the stupidity of the public who choose to read it or, more importantly, are influenced by it.

        Of course, we’re now getting into the moral dilemas regarding ‘freedom of speech’ and hindering it, which is a can of worms I don’t want to go near. Still, it’s a more reasonable route to go down than “control dumb people.”

        • bogwell says:

          The correct solution is to change society in a way so that the average person would choose to shun this kind of headline and naturally search for more progressive piece of news too read.

          That may sound daunting but a world where you have achieved this is far better than a world where you have merely censored them, swept the problems under the carpet or pretend that they are not the majority and it may be us who have to listen to what they want.

      • cunningmunki says:

        The problem is that we allow publications, such as the Daily Mail, to call themselves a ‘newspaper’. There should be a regulatory body, like OFCOM, that decides whether or not a publication can legitimately call itself a ‘news’ paper, based on criteria such as objectivity and accuracy, like the BBC is subjected to.
        Then they can print what the fuck they like, but the general public will at least have a better understanding of which publications are trustworthy and which are dogshit scoopers. Why this simple idea wasn’t part of the Levenson recommendations is beyond me.

        Although, having said that, the BBC’s own ‘news’ website often carries similar, tech-paranoia, click-baiting, headlines, usually with the words ‘Facebook’ or ‘Twitter’ in them.

    • spamenigma says:

      Front page headline on DM says “Teenager killed by his Xbox” which is an even more specific lie than generalising “video game”.

      • Sakkura says:

        Oh how I would love to see MS sue them for that.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        Is there even a sonic game on the XBOX?
        I remember when Sega still made consoles, now I feel old :(

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      It was nice of them to give Labour and Milliband a day off!

  2. James1o1o says:

    I tweeted about this article this morning. It should be against the law for the Daily Mail to create these superficial headlines.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Censorship would be a greater evil.

      • GrittyGamer says:

        I couldn’t have put it better myself.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Question: Should someone retain the right to knowingly publish lies?

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            When those lies are knowingly malicious and knowingly intended to profit from the harm brought to others?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            I do understand that the law currently allows you to knowingly publish lies, what I’m asking is why should we be allowed to retain that right?

          • Premium User Badge

            RaveTurned says:

            ‘Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides the right to freedom of expression, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society”.’

            Surely accurate journalism is a cornerstone of a properly functioning democratic society? How on earth are people supposed to vote in their best interests if they are not being given all the facts? Given the above, would it not therefore be in the spirit of said Article to enforce a more stringent regulation of the press to ensure that facts are reported accurately – or at least that when people knowingly mislead the the media (or politicians for that matter – I’m looking at you, Ian Duncan Smith) they can be held to account for it?

          • rsanchez1 says:

            Even the US Supreme Court protects the right to knowingly publish lies:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/us/justices-say-lying-about-military-honors-is-protected.html

            Although recently, a law was passed that makes it illegal to lie (about earning a military medal) with the intent to profit from said lie:

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/03/stolen-valor-act-obama_n_3379782.html

            I guess the question on whether or not it’s ok to publish lies depends on who you ask.

          • LionsPhil says:

            You would have a very hard time making a case that there is harm being done to others in sufficient magnitude to suppress the right to free expression here, and if you could it’d be a horrible precedent for every other time someone posts some stupid ill-supported axe-grinding article.

            It is depressing that it is necessary to argue that fundamental rights are fundamental.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            “It is depressing that it is necessary to argue that fundamental rights are fundamental.”

            I don’t disagree, but consider that 1000 years ago, it would be a perfectly valid statement to say “It is depressing that it is necessary to argue that the 10 commandments should be obeyed without question”.

            The fundamental human rights we all should have were written by a human who came from a time. Humans are not all knowing perfect entities and written statements of law lose their relevance as time, society, technology and perception change. 2000 years ago, many societies considered it a fundamental right to own slaves.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            That is not what “freedom of expression” is. AFAIK.
            It’s legal to say what you like. It’s also legal to lock you up for it. Else you’d not risk drinking “Cola” ever again, lest it contain “water” instead…

          • 00000 says:

            The exercise of journalism, carries greater duties and responsibilities then regular speech. Albeit the nature of these duties are self-regulated by deontological code – this code states that the first-most duty of a journalist is the right of the public to truth – usually that also means that they will publish their errors when corrected.

            There are plenty of measurements a society can take that doesn’t impede the freedom of expression while still enforcing journalist to stay truthful. Like forcing them to publish their errors by law, and court-ordering a corrected article when they make false accusations.

            I suggest writing a formal letter of complaint to the Daily Mail – I would most certainly enjoy reading this in small print “TDM apologizes for claiming video games killed Jake Gallagher.”

          • MadTinkerer says:

            @Sheng-Ji: Because it would be super awesome if I got to be the one who could decide what was true and what was not. In fact, you’d have to send all of your forum posts to me first, to fact-check each one, before you’d get to post on forums.

            Fortunately, I am perfect and will never make a mistake in regards to my fact-checking, and would never let the power go to my head and start deciding that only forum posts “worth” posting will go through. After all, my time is precious: I have to fact-check everything! And you’re definitely not going to get to say anything mean about me or my bosses or anyone I like. If you try, I’ll just have you arrested for trying to lie too much. Because being mean about me is lying. I said so.

            Also, I hope your political ideology is close to mine. After all, the less agreeable you are, the less factual your statements are, by definition. No, no, my definition. I’m infallible, remember? Regardless, I control whether you get to say anything so of course I get to define words however I wish. I do have that authority, because I choose what is true and what is false.

            How is your lunch, by the way? Are those fries good? I think they’re good, what do you think? No really: it’s okay. You don’t need to agree with me. It’s not a trap. I wouldn’t have you arrested just for disagreeing with me on food. Perish the thought! Hmm? Oh yes, my cousin did cook these fries, glad you’re paying attention. So you do like them! I’m so glad to hear that. Would you like to give a thoroughly objective positive feedback on my cousin’s cooking? Oh, I’m so glad. I see we’re going to get along just fine.

          • luukdeman111 says:

            there are a million reasons why freedom of speech is incredibly important and that’s why it’s one of the european human rights. It’s not the other way around so using the human rights to say that something is inherently right is just wrong.

          • ScorpionWasp says:

            “I do understand that the law currently allows you to knowingly publish lies, what I’m asking is why should we be allowed to retain that right?”

            Because then someone would have to decide what’s a lie and what’s truth. Who? How can we ensure this person will be both competent, free of conflicts of interest and even omniscient to do that adequately? We can’t. The practical result would be people like Galileo, Darwin, abolitionists, in some places communists, in other places non-communists, all having their “lies” silenced.

            Let people say what they will, and each individual decide for him or herself what’s credible and what isn’t. For as long as everyone retains the right to call bullshit and also make their counter case, all shall be well.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @MadTinkerer – The current system where a relatively small group of people are expected to vet every piece of output from the printed media seems to be the problem, especially as it is pretty obvious that they are corrupt.

            I do think it’s very telling that you cannot possibly perceive of another system to control – not telling of anything about you personally, no insult intended, I mean telling of society as a whole and how funneled into the current mindset of big brother check up on you, looks after you and makes sure you do nothing wrong.

            How about a system where the general public can choose what gets censored? Think ancient greek democracy, if any citizen is concerned about something, they may call a forum and engage in the debate, the forum as a whole decides and that decision is followed as if it were made by any form of regularity body – with the power of the internet, this could be almost real time!

          • darkmorgado says:

            Article 10 does not provide journalists with the freedom to mislead and lie to the general public. If you read it, it has 2 clauses. Clause 2:

            The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”

            In other words, it recognises that rights come with responsibilities and freedom of speech does not give you the ability to lie to the public with impunity. This is why we have laws against defamation, hate speech, false or misleading advertising, etc.

          • Premium User Badge

            lurkalisk says:

            @rsanchez1
            Actually, it also depends on where you are. 17 states in the US have criminal defamation laws that a case like this could easily fall under, though mostly for the use of the phrase “Xbox”, rather than the truly scummy aspect.

          • WrenBoy says:

            @Sheng-ji

            I do think it’s very telling that you cannot possibly perceive of another system to control

            How about a system where the general public can choose what gets censored?

            I find it incredible that you would not see the obvious flaws in this horrible idea.

            As a thought experiment, were you informed that a majority of Americans favoured banning the teaching of evolution would you agree that teaching evolution be an imprisonable offense in the US?

            Were you informed that a majority of Pakistanis favoured the countrys draconian blasphemy laws would you agree that they are a sign of a fair justice system?

        • Werthead says:

          Yes.

          However, other people should also have the right to expose those lies, with the force of legal backup if necessary.

          • Premium User Badge

            Hodge says:

            Yep, this.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Great point (and do bear in mind I am deliberately playing devils advocate here) but supposing a newspaper deliberately prints a lie about the guilt or innocence of a suspect in a murder trial. Should we add the caveat that if the published lie infringes on a persons human rights, (the right to a fair trial) then censorship is valid? Bear in mind that you can’t force the jury to read any published information which points out the lie.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Already covered as an exceptional case “for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary”.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            LionsPhil. Please try to accept that I am not talking about what the law is as it stands. I am trying to discuss whether the idea of zero censorship and complete freedom of speech (which the law as it stands does not allow) is a good thing. See my statement above too.

          • mouton says:

            @Sheng-ji

            Well, ideally we should strive to improve our society to a point where decent common education makes people ignore bullcrap and thus censorship is not necessary at all.

            I don’t think there is a place with no censorship whatsoever – there are always some barriers, even if not of the written kind. Still, I believe it should be kept at bare minimum, seeing how easily its mechanisms are broken and abused.

        • coty says:

          The problem is this: who decides which “truth” should be published?

          From different perspectives come different versions, and I know that I (personally) don’t want some bureaucrat in an office deciding which “truth” to disseminate into the media.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Well obviously in matters of opinion, they are just that – opinion but there is only one truth and no other – for example:

            “Most cyclists on the tour still dope” read exclusively in our paper the startling admissions of current tour cyclists admitting anonymously that they dope.

            This story would clearly be telling lies (In my pretend example, the papers made up all the admissions.) yet is entirely legal to publish. Is this morally or ethically correct? If not, should it be legal?

            There should also always be the benefit of the doubt for jokes, comedy, art, fiction masquerading as fact etc.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            That is the thing, morality is more the case here than legality. Technically this kid died because he got overexcited playing his X-Box, so “technically” its not a lie. The fact is they twisted the truth so that the story fit their agenda, this is the bigger issue to me.

            National press should not have an agenda to fill, they should be there only to impartially convey the truth, yet the whole industry is based on a small amount of people deciding what is actually news and how to present that news, no matter how spuriously, purely for personal gain. When its as blatant as the News of the World phone-tapping issue then something will be done about it, the problem is that the industry is self-regulating, there is nobody to assess what they do and call them on their bullshit and this is what needs to happen.

            TV and film have control boards to monitor them and admonish them when they produce something offensive or misleading, while newspapers are able to publish whatever garbage they like, no sources cited and sell it to the nation, where large numbers of people will believe it because “it’s in the newspaper”.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            I think the truth in this case is more clear cut than that. The cause of death was a heart attack, right? And it seems safe to assume that it’s listed as such on his death certificate. That’s as much a fact as we’re able to determine, and they’re ignoring it in favor of picking on one involved factor that they’ve got an agenda on.

            The guy was no more killed by a video game than he was by a television or a hedgehog.

          • Josh W says:

            The office of national statistics are bureaucrats in an office, and they do a great job of producing useful information for people to make decisions of off, putting effort into making sure it’s true, and pointing out when other government departments are playing fast and loose with the truth.

            They don’t exactly do media censorship (ie at all), but on your specific point, that’s exactly what they do, and it’s great!

        • GrittyGamer says:

          Yes. How do you prove the publisher knowingly published a lie? Where is the line drawn? How far would this Law extend? It could be argued the Bible is one big profit making lie. Do we remove that from publication? There are so many impracticalities with such a law, and that’s even before getting to a persons right to free speech.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Well, yes, I didn’t imagine for one second we would get into trying to actually word the law but we can discuss the spirit of it and listen to each others points

        • Safilpope says:

          A person, yes; a newspaper, no

        • Sheng-ji says:

          So I asked “Should someone retain the right to knowingly publish lies?”

          The answers so far have been interesting – apart from people quoting current law to me which neatly sidesteps the actual question I asked, the two sides seem to be:

          Yes, the corruption that would occur from trying to control what people publish, the difficulty in establishing whether a statement is or is not a lie and the impracticality of wording the law means that we should not want to remove a papers right to tell lies.

          No, papers have a moral and ethical responsibility, they should only be allowed to say things that are true. People should be able to lie without fear of any kind of punishment or censorship.

          I’ve got to admit, the yes’ have it for me at the moment, if only because no-one seems to want to jump into the no camp! I can promise you, when my son is old enough, I shall be teaching him personally that just because something is printed in black and white, it should be taken with a pinch of salt!

          • LionsPhil says:

            apart from people quoting current law to me which neatly sidesteps the actual question I asked

            Did it occur to you while being a smartarse about this that some of us might actually agree with current law regarding human rights, at least in broad principles, given that current law regarding human rights is, at least in broad principles, derived from the common understanding of what is good and just?

            Arguing the “but what if” cases has already been done. The results are codified in the exceptions to the article. It’s rather unlikely that random Internet comments are going to contribute any valuable new insights.

            This is why my responses to this are terse pointers to the result of an existing extensive bout of hand-wringing over where one person’s rights but up against another’s.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            So what you’re saying is that it’s already been legislated and therefor no one ever needs to think about it again?

      • Faxmachinen says:

        No. Death threats, disclosing personal information, and identity theft is illegal (i.e. censored), and I’m fine with that.

        • LionsPhil says:

          A newspaper article qualifies as neither, so that isn’t greatly relevant.

          • Faxmachinen says:

            A blanket “no censorship on anything” is obviously not appropriate either though.

      • Palindrome says:

        The real issue here is that the print media in this country, especially such august publications as the Daily Mail, are allowed to print absolute shite with impunity.

        The MMR ‘scandal’ is the perfect example of this. A (very) small clinical study was published in the Lancet and blown massively out of proportion by the media in general, and the print media in particular. Even when far larger studies with better methodologies were published which clearly showed the MMR-autism link to be bollocks the media kept up with its tide of lies, half truths and hysteria. The end result was a sharp dip in MMR coverage and a large measles epidemic in Wales earlier this year, which luckily didn’t kill anyone, due almost entirely to appalling poor news reporting.

        Censorship would be bad but there absolutely must to be a credible system of press accountability in this country and that is something that I can’t see happening unfortunately.

        As to this story I am not suprised in the least.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          Although what you say is correct, does it not fly that the editor of that piece is more than entitled to his opinions about computer games and has every right to print his opinion? Its not as if it’s difficult to check facts and find different opinions on the internet these days and if someone is going to believe something that someone writes without question, is that not more of a problem with our education system than the fault of the editor? (See I really am playing devils advocate here! Very interested in this discussion!)

          • mondomau says:

            Don’t forget that the PCC – the body that investigates complaints against papers like the Mail has as its chairman Paul Dacre.

            Editor of the Daily Mail.

            Yeah.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Of course people are entitled to their opinions, I also guarantee you this was not an opinion piece. This is twisting around the events of a childs death to the point of becoming a borderline lie in order to fit personal agenda, the goal being personal gain. There will definitely be several cases similar to this that went unreported because it did not fit their agenda.

            Monomadu is exactly right, the UK press industry has absolutely nobody controlling them except each other. It is a ludicrous system which allows them to print pretty much anything they want without consequence, this is even more damaging when you consider a lot of people read one newspaper and believe everything that is written. While I’m not saying they aren’t being mindless sheep, it doesn’t mean something shouldn’t be done about large companies publishing lies for personal gain because enough gullible people will give them money.

        • derbefrier says:

          With freedom comes responsibility. something these wackos obviously aren’t practicing but we have to accept the good with the bad or we’ll never truly be free.

      • Lagwolf says:

        Hear hear!

  3. MadJax says:

    Jake, Kake, Kyle, whoever died, it’s sick that this hate-rag abuses it for their own agenda. More sickening is the fact that people out there will believe the article.

  4. BobbyDylan says:

    Jake died while playing Xbox:

    Jake Died in hospital 2 days later:

    Jesus, even the Headline is self-contradictory.

    • Atrocious says:

      Jesus died on the cross.

      Jesus was resurrected on the third day and didn’t die a second time, unlike little Jake.

      But why did you have to drag him into this?

    • WrenBoy says:

      Wow, well spotted!

  5. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    My uncle died of aneurysm while reading daily mail.

    • Donkeyfumbler says:

      Who hasn’t come close to an aneurysm while reading the Daily Mail? It’s a wonder it hasn’t caused more deaths (not that they’d report THAT of course).

      • Outsider says:

        Is this the only news source over there? People complain about reading something they hate reading. If you don’t like the publication, don’t give them the hits or publicity.

        • spedcor666 says:

          I think most people are complaining that papers like the Daily Mail are allowed to publish such misleading articles rather than complaining about reading them.

    • yxxxx says:

      The amount it makes my blood pressure go up when I have the unfortunate oppotunity to read the Daily Mail I wouldnt be surprised to be killed off by it one of these days.

    • Premium User Badge

      Anthile says:

      Indeed! The other day somebody linked me an article about wolves coming back to western Europe, describing them as “killer beasts”. Highlight: “Scientists attribute the rise of wolves in Europe to the fall of Berlin Wall”. You can’t make this stuff up.

      • Premium User Badge

        Stellar Duck says:

        Damn communist wolves!

        Or alternately: bloody eastern workforce undercutting our badgers on the work place!

      • Cryptoshrimp says:

        Clearly, they can.

  6. Seafort says:

    And the Daily Mail think video games are evil? Maybe they should look to themselves to see who is more evil, games played for fun or this sick article that exploits a childs death for their own gains.

    They should be shut down and the editors jailed for this.

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      How did that Leveson stuff went?

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry is delayed until after the criminal investigation into the News of the World phone tapping incidents.
        We can hope the final results from the inquiry do something to stop the press producing grade A tripe like this but i’ll believe it when I see it.

  7. MarcP says:

    “Reacting every time the British Daily Mail posts one of its clickbaiting articles about videogames is a mistake.”

    Indeed it is, but you still keep posting clickbaiting articles of your own about it (let’s revel in collective gamer rage about a popular tabloid none of us reads misrepresenting our hobby), and I still react to yours. How easily we all are manipulated.

    • ividyon says:

      Not only that, but the only bad thing about the article seems to be the headline, and even that first line is immediately disarmed by “excitement triggering heart attack”. Nowhere seems there to be any demonizing of video games or gamers, it’s just pointing out the woe of a child dying during something so harmless.

      It’s still a shit headline, and the Daily Mail is a shit tabloid, but this is a shit article.

      • Donkeyfumbler says:

        I agree that, for the Daily Mail, it is on the milder side of things, but it is still over-sensationalism in order to attract readers/page views and which plays on the fears of it’s readers while glossing over what should be the main point of the story, namely that this condition exists and the parents call for screening (whether or not that might be practical or financially possible for the NHS of course).

        • ividyon says:

          It’s still grand irony that Walker would kick off his article with exactly the same kind of attention-grabbing “DAILY MAIL HATES >YOU<, RAPES HOUSE, KILLS WIFE, BURNS DOWN DOG" lines only to have readers find out it's just a mild case of Daily Mail being shite as usual and not bringing a message across as well as a respectable paper would, overall bringing them to a conclusion of a sighing "meh".

      • ukpanik says:

        I bet the Mail website gets more clicks from pissed off people than from their moronic user base.

      • Premium User Badge

        JamesTheNumberless says:

        It’s the Daily Mail though, they’ve got form. You can bet that the differentiating factor here is that it’s difficult to portray Sonic as a violent game – if he had been playing CoD you could expect a lot of unrelated facts about the violence in the game to be printed alongside the rest of the story.

    • PacketOfCrisps says:

      You assume too much.

  8. Dowr says:

    This is why I tore up any Daily Mail papers my parents purchased (literally).

    I will not have a member of my family support such a disgraceful newspaper.

    And just a reminder to anyone: do not go over to Daily Mails website to read the full article and leave comments – that is what they want.

  9. ividyon says:

    Is there a userscript that lets me hide blog articles by certain writers? RPS is great as a whole, it’s just that I can’t bring myself to ignore and read past Walker’s articles, which I rarely ever enjoy, so I need a technical aid for it.

    • Donkeyfumbler says:

      Not sure about userscript, but I’m sure we can start a whip round for a box of sand for you to stick your head in.

    • Dowr says:

      Quit complaining, just don’t read his fucking articles.

      Walker’s intent wasn’t to give you enjoyable reading, he is just trying to expose how dishonest a newspaper such as The Daily Mail is.

    • Wodge says:

      http://userscripts.org/scripts/review/157536

      I believe it was made by one of the anonymous denizens of 4chan’s /v/.

      • ividyon says:

        Thank you!

        • mondomau says:

          I’ve been on reddit, facebook and 4chan today and this is hands-down the most depressing and pathetic exchange I have seen so far. Setting the bar high for the rest of the week in fact.

          I’m not even a fan of Walker or his frothings. but you lot? Good grief.

          • ividyon says:

            Whatever point you are trying to make is moot and amusing indeed!

          • mondomau says:

            It’s a real shame that you can’t take this smug, patronising and dismissive attitude and apply it to the appearance of Walker’s articles (in your own head, preferably), rather than making a fuss about blocking them. It’s almost as if you’re a pseudo-intellectual with a taste for melodrama and a terrible, insecurity-driven need to make sure everyone understands how much cleverer than them you are.

          • ividyon says:

            No, I’m actually bad at ignoring stupid things (case in point: I’m revisiting these comments to respond to you) and therefore actually did need a userscript for it, which I actually could not find. But now I have it! All problems solved. So what’s your issue with that again?

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Good grief. Is that what you take away from this article? Amazing.

    • mouton says:

      Is it Clockwork Orange where your eyes are forced open while each and every article of RPS scrolls before you?

      I mean, I open RPS in my RSS reader – or just RPS main page – and I see a list of articles. From it, I choose which I choose to read and ignore those that do not interest me. Am I doing something weird and strange that nobody else grasps?

  10. Moraven says:

    Lots of teens die to abnormal hearts when doing sports. They also die to heat stroke when they are more suspect to it.

    DEARTH BY PARKOUR:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2154373/Russian-parkour-girl-24-falls-17-storeys-death-building-jump-goes-horribly-wrong.html

    DEATH BY MODEL PLANE
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-177139/Teenager-killed-hit-model-plane.html

    Yah, the obvious differences are obvious.

  11. Jamie White says:

    Britain is an horrible place.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Nah, not really, Britain’s lovely. There is, just like the world over, a tiny minority of disgusting vile people who make their voices heard.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Compared to what? Afganistan? India? Somalia? Australia?

  12. Beernut says:

    Don’t you have some kind of journalistic control-thingy in the UK? In Germany, there’s a “paper” with huge circulation, which receives warnings and fines on a regular basis for invading someone’s privacy, or for knowingly writing false information if it raises the sales. They usually have to print some kind of apology or retraction when they’re caught in a more heinous case of sensationalism. No other paper/tv-program has gotten as many reprimands from the “Presserat” (press council) as this rag, and thus it’s widely viewed as the bottom of the journalistic barrel. Seems to me, that the Daily Mail would benefit from those kinds of etiquette-lessons as well…

    • ividyon says:

      Ah, glorious Bild! I still can’t believe people actually buy it. I really can’t imagine why anyone would want to do that….

    • Premium User Badge

      JamesTheNumberless says:

      Yes, the tabloid press are caught out time and time again over libel and have to pay fines. But it hardly makes a dent in the money they earn from selling their sensationalist rags.

    • Lanfranc says:

      There is actually the Press Complaints Commission, which is broadly similar to the Presserat, but much less effective. The recent Leveson Inquiry recommended a new body to oversee the press with more powerful sanctions available to it, but it’s not certain what will come of that.

      • Guvornator says:

        Yeah. the main issue with the PCC is that the panel which sets it’s standards is headed by Paul Dacre who is the editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers. He’s also editor of, um, the Daily Mail…

        • mondomau says:

          I pointed this out in a reply to a comment above (the wrong one actually), while typing it I had to go back and check my source several times, because even as I was typing it, several months after I learnt of this insanity, my brain still won’t properly accept that this could be true.

  13. trjp says:

    Someone I used to work with complained endlessly about how much time her son spent on his XBOX

    An XBOX she bought for him, gave him unlimited use of her cards to buy games for and which she replaced TWICE after it died (on one occasion driving 50 miles at 9pm to get another).

    She complained so much than I asked how much time he spent on it

    “He’s on it at least 4 hours every day and has been for years”

    “I’m guessing it’s worked-out cheaper than a babysitter then – you should be pleased about that?”

  14. Lusketrollet says:

    Gods; these people are evil.

    • DiamondDog says:

      I don’t think they care enough to be evil. It’s just a story for them to spin.

    • Outsider says:

      If a shite headline to a shite article is evil, the word has no meaning.

  15. aldo_14 says:

    I know a person that had a serious arrythmic attack at a university lecture.

    I guess by the Daily Mail’s standards we should thus ban education.

  16. int says:

    Elvis died on the toilet. I say we ban toilets and rock n’ roll.

  17. Premium User Badge

    UppityTeapot says:

    Fun fact: I use a hosts file redirect to prevent me from even accidentally accessing the Daily Mail. I redirect myself to a folder of kitten images on my local web server.

    Which shows how much I dislike that particular rag of a newspaper.

    • Echo_Hotel says:

      I’m going to have to remember that trick, it could come in handy.

  18. Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

    Oh Jesus Christ.

    Right, I hate the Daily Mail as much as the next person. That said, I’m also not a frothing lunatic like Walker, so I went and looked up the article to see if it was this bad.

    “Jake, who had Asperger’s Syndrome, had not had heart screening, which has not been made compulsory by the government.

    His mother has now joined charity Cardiac Risk in the Young in calling on the government to make screening mandatory in young people”

    Does that sound like they’re complaining about video games or heart screening? They link his death, very specifically, to his heart condition. Nobody is going to walk away from this thinking an XBox could kill their child unless their child has this rare condition.

    The Daily Mail does lots of incredibly unpleasant things. This isn’t one of them – this is a perfectly normal tabloid story about an unfortunate kid and his family that is evidently not trying to stir up fear about video games. This is only an anti-gamer story through the lenses of John Walker’s mental breakdown.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2365123/Excitement-video-game-triggered-fatal-heart-attack-teenager-died-playing-Xbox.html

    There’s the link if anyone wants to read it themselves. The Mail prints lots of horrible things – this isn’t one of them. It’s just an article about a kid who has a rare heart condition who died while playing a computer game. That’s it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Zunt says:

      Er, the headline is “Killed by a Video Game”, not “Killed by lack of screening”.

      • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

        Right, so anyone who reads the Daily Mail is unable to get past the headline?

        Look, I know we’re all being smug and superior, ho ho the Daily Mail wot a rag eh, but you’re not that much better than the people who read it. Like, I know you think you’re better than them, and I’m sure you are, but d’you think they might be able to read, say, the next paragraph after he headline? Or maybe the four bullet points under the headline where it says “Teenager found to have had Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome”?

        I don’t like the Daily Mail but I’m going to go ahead and say I think maybe its readers are capable of, y’know, reading. And in this case, if they read the article, it clearly links his death to his condition and has the game as a trigger.

        • Premium User Badge

          Zunt says:

          The Daily Mail rely on their readers not to actually read their stories. Once the reader has scanned the headline and bought the paper, or better yet clicked through to their website, the Mail’s job is done. Delivering a factually correct story is not necessary.

          A relevant link here is to Ben Goldacre’s old blog where he talks about a study showing that most readers of newspapers never get beyond the 11th paragraph.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          So you’re saying that a newspaper headline is not meant to summarise the contents of an article, but to deliver a minor point of interest? Now I understand.

          “Armstrong’s Wife Drinks Half Quart of Apple Juice” – New York Times July 20, 1969

        • StormTec says:

          Then I put it to you: Why would you title an article about an irrelevant part of the story? And then bookend it with sad photos of family and a picture of an Xbox, linking back to thoughts of the title?

          Look, mate, I know you’re trying not to go with the flow here, I get that. You’re trying to be an intelligent person and challenge what appears to be the common perception. I totally support that, man. Like, I really do. And, you’re right, the meat of the article itself does not talk about videogames in any capacity. but it makes the start and end editing decisions seem a little strange, doesn’t it?

          Sometimes, mate, it’s ok to go with the majority opinion. Because, sometimes, the reality of the matter is that shit really does stink.

          Also, if you think that the majority of Daily Mail’s readers are capable of, y’know, reading, then you clearly have a much higher opinion of their readership than everyone (including themselves) do. Have you ever had a conversation with one of these people? Trust me, man. They may be able to feign literacy, but their brains cannot comprehend it.

        • spedcor666 says:

          ‘I’m going to go ahead and say I think maybe its readers are capable of, y’know, reading.’

          Shame so many of them are incapable of critical reading though.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          Headlines and photos have been shown in research to frame stories, they have more impact than the content itself. Loads of media theory research on it, I think Barthes even wrote something about how photos restrict the understanding of accompanying text in newspapers. So yeah, people get past the headline, but the headline flavours everything they read afterwards.

      • fish99 says:

        Of course technically speaking he wasn’t killed by lack of screening either, he was killed by a heart condition.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Don’t be naive, the connotations are quite clear. If the writer of the article wasn’t trying to stir up trouble what Jake was doing when he suffered the attack would’ve been mentioned once for context. Instead it’s referenced throughout the article because it’s a quick and easy target.

      Keep the narrative rumbling on that games are dangerous, so that future stories get peoples interest.

      • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

        Don’t be naive? Don’t be so patronising.

        The actual content of the article leaves you in no doubt that the kid’s undiagnosed illness was the primary factor in his death. If the author’s trying to stir up anti-video game sentiment then they’re going about it the wrong way by continuously mentioning the kid’s illness. The only way you can claim this article is anti-video games is if you say “Oh well nobody who reads the Daily Mail reads the articles”. That is, you can only claim this article is anti-video games if you ignore the content of the article (which clearly links his death to his condition). “Daily Mail readers will use this as evidence to hate video games because they won’t read the article, just like me! That’s why I know it’s a dreadful anti-video games article!”

        Eesh.

        • DiamondDog says:

          You seem to missing my point, and John’s for that matter. They do make it clear in the article why he died, but that doesn’t absolve them of the fact their headline is “Killed by a video game” or the inclusion of this paragraph:

          “Professor Sanjay Sharma, of St George’s Hospital in South West London, said: ‘There is a definite risk in predisposed young people playing video games that causes surges of adrenalin in the blood.’”

          Like I said, they’re just taking this opportunity to perpetuate the belief that games are dangerous.

        • nindustrial says:

          So it wouldn’t be anti-homosexual if the headline was “Killed by a Gay Man: Excitement triggered fatal heart attack of teenager while playing Xbox engineered by a team including a homosexual”?

          • ividyon says:

            I can’t even begin to comprehend how mentally limited one must be to provide this sort of argument.

          • nindustrial says:

            If by mentally limited you mean taking the argument to its logical extension, then “very.” If what you really meant was to simply offer an ad hominem attack against me, I await an actual rebuttal.

    • The Godzilla Hunter says:

      Agreed, this seems to be more of an issue of Stupid Terrible, Misleading Headline than malicious-nes directed at video games in particular. Video games are used because someone just scrolling past “Kid dies from disease” does not catch the eye as much as “Kid dies from Xbox”. Nothing to do with an agenda, probably.

      • gabbaell says:

        Yeah, I’m sure the DM don’t have anything against video games really.

        But less sarcastically, you should try googling ‘daily mail video games’ to see what kind of an agenda they have regarding video games.

    • John Walker says:

      Clearly you have your own agenda here, but don’t be such a bullshitter. The vast majority of the article mentions games, from the headline, to the opening line, to the naming of the game, to the description of how the game makes him excited, to the expert quote about the dangers of games, to the giant sandwiching of the Xbox picture between the grieving family. Quoting the final two paragraphs that don’t directly mention gaming is pretty weak of you.

  19. TheWhippetLord says:

    I have aspergers and am still alive. I hate Sonic and do not own an XBOX – guess I dodged a bullet there. A hedgehog did crap on my pyjamas once though.
    On the bright side I think that may the first time that the Mail has mentioned AS without suggesting that we’re all dangerous monsters and/or genius-level subversive hackers, so well done them I guess.

    • frightlever says:

      Everyone has Aspergers now. You’re a freak if you don’t have it. Sorry to be so blunt about it, but ya know, Aspergers…

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Wonderful analysis, doctor.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          Although your man’s delivery could be a little less blunt he does have a point; aspergers has been removed from the DSM in the 5th edition because it has become so over used as to have little validity; it’s basically become a colloquial term rather than a diagnosis for people who have disabling relational difficulties. People above the threshold will now all be understood as having autistic spectrum disorder.

          - Dr. Eddy9000

          • darkmorgado says:

            That isn’t why it is being removed, it is being folded into Autism as a point on wider spectrum.

            Which is incredibly controversial as they cannot be so easily labelled as “more or less severe” forms of each other, they are DIFFERENT TYPES of Autism.

            What would be more accurate is to stop using the outdated term “Autism” to refer what is more correctly known as Kanner’s Syndrome, and to create a subcategory in the DSM V of ASD, separate from things like various classes of mental illness or learning disabilities, because it is neither.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            Syndromes are subjective constructs based on symptomology that can help communicate an understanding and plan support for people whose presentations are broadly similar, aspergers has officially been folded into ASD because it was considered to lack heterogenity from the main construct in a meaningful way. The validity problems of aspergers as a construct were also confounded by its passing into common parlance to describe shy, awkward, rude or challenging behaviour in children when their behaviour was not considerably disabling, pathological or requiring intervention. The author of the DSM-IV himself said that adding aspergers was one of the biggest mistakes of the publication because of its potential to pathologise behaviour and experiences that would otherwise be considered normal (if challenging). Believe me I worked as a child clinical psychologist for several years and got fed up of schools bringing me in to do an ‘aspergers’ assessment for children that were just a bit different.

  20. derbefrier says:

    poor kid . my heart goes out to his family and friends. :(

  21. Premium User Badge

    Zunt says:

    John, routine screening is almost never a useful tool. The SADS charity’s page on screening has an excellent summary of what they’re asking for: targetted screening and better identification of the warning signs that should indicate screening.

    • John Walker says:

      I agree entirely. Same as breast cancer screening in younger woman, the false positives would have an overall detrimental effect on public health.

      • WrenBoy says:

        Tomorrows headline writes itself.

        Killed by a glorified blog: Excitement ‘triggered fatal head explosion of reader who died upon encountering evidence of correct usage of statistics’

  22. ScubaMonster says:

    Well over excitement to Sonic the Hedgehog may have been getting pissed off at a lame death lol. Lord knows I’ve had my fair share of WTF moments with Sonic.

  23. apocraphyn says:

    Goddamnit John, you’re letting Craig and Nathan do all the heavy lifting while you’re just kicking up a fuss over a bloody Daily Mail article. Come on! Report on some actual video games! Help the lads out!

    Also found the comments early on about how the Daily Mail should exist – regardless of how deplorable it may be – due to freedom of speech pretty hilarious, when lots of (admittedly tasteless) puns relating to “hearts” and so forth were being deleted left, right and centre, immediately after the article was posted. But then, it is stated right above: “We do not have a freedom of speech policy here.”

    • Eddy9000 says:

      That isn’t fair at all. John (co) owns this website and keeps it running, the only reason Craig and Nathan write on here at all is because John employs them. He has plenty of work to do to keep RPS online and putting out articles that doesn’t involve publishing them himself.

      • apocraphyn says:

        It’s not unfair. The others are writing about games on a fairly constant basis, then John just pops in for yet another ‘social justice’ article. He’s not propping the site up all on his own – as you said, he co-owns the joint. You make it sound as if he’s doing all the dancing in the background where it could well be Jim or Alec – it’s hard to say without their direct feedback, so you can’t exactly swing that to your advantage.

        It’s a little tiring, is all – or at least, the way it comes across is tiring. He can write well, I just wish he’d focus more on games than chasing tabloids and such.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          So by your own admission, you have no idea how much work john puts into the website, how much effort he puts into making sure the other writers have a platform to write about games or how much he supports the other writers.

          And yet you are classless enough to accuse him of “letting the others do the heavy lifting”

          Nice.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          Oh I’m under no illusion that he is co-owner rather than sole owner, which is why I stated it in my post. I just think saying that employees are doing the hard work because what one of the owners is doing isn’t as visible is unfair.

          Although I must admit that the social commentary pieces on RPS are what raises it above the rest for me, and what keep me coming back.

        • John Walker says:

          You know what’s actually tiring? This. 95% of the stuff I write on RPS is directly about games, with no political or social content whatsoever. Actually reading the site would rather suddenly reveal this to you.

  24. SpiceTheCat says:

    I don’t want to be Mr Pedantic Fact Checker (actually, that’s a lie), but 200,000 deaths per year in the US from SADS sounds wrong. Quick googling seems to show that that figure is roughly the rate for all sudden cardiac deaths, while the SADS rate is about 1.3-1.4/100,000 (UK figures). Assuming the US has about the same rate of SADS deaths, there’d be about 4,000 SADS deaths per year in the US.

    But anyway, the Daily Mail is still evil. No need to fact check that.

  25. Atrocious says:

    On a serious note. I am afraid I might die one day, while playing EVE Online. Some people rightfully say that combat in eve is very dull.

    But sometimes (rarely), in very tense situations where a lot pixels are at stake, I get so pumped up by adrenaline that I feel my blood pressure rising above sane levels. It doesn’t happen with any other game. I then feel an intense pressure at my spine which makes me think my aorta bursts any second. I’m honestly concerned that this may be the end of me.

    If you don’t hear of me again, send the Daily Mail!

  26. Premium User Badge

    Continuity says:

    Come on now John. The Daily Mail? No one with any nouse at all takes anything they print seriously- even remotely seriously.

  27. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    John, don’t you ever crave to appear on the front of the Daily Mail?

  28. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    Just one thing worth mentioning; their online articles are often thrown up with gay abandon. Both in terms of headline content and grammatical quality. It’s quite staggering how slipshod it is at times.

    It’s a weird setup, I wouldn’t be surprised if this article has an entirely different tone in the actual paper itself. Still, the DM Online is a powerful news site (whether we like it or not) and they should put a bit more thought into their headlines before clicking the submit button.

    Much of the article itself is reasonable-enough though. And lest we forget, we also have other papers like the Guardian constantly peddling their own agenda at the expense of reasonable objectivity…..just from a different point of the spectrum.

  29. darkhog says:

    I am aspie myself. Yes it’s kinda hard for me to communicate with my peers (unless via forum posts like in this case), especially combined with my shyness which would get in the way even if I wouldn’t be aspie (again, this doesn’t apply to forum posts, as face-to-face contact doesn’t happen here).

    I am mostly computer guy, have no interest in trains, etc. but can write about any program you’d like (for a price of course) and currently I am working on a game (you can look it up on TIGForums, it’s called Super Heli Land).

    I also have potentially fatal condition (combined with my interest in computer) – epilepsy. The only drug that work on me allowing me to not have seizures is Tegretol CR400 and only combined with Tisercin (remove any of those, and you got seizured guy instead of a programmer). Dunno if they sell those in countries other than Poland (for all I know, they could be forbidden elsewhere – again, not my area), so you may once see title “Killed by programming IDE: 23 years old guy found dead due to epilepsy in front of his computer” or something equally stupid.

    I also have no words for stupidity of those people that work in this tabloid.

  30. solymer89 says:

    The title of that paper should read, Teenager with health issues died doing what he loved most.

  31. aircool says:

    Mainstream media running a misleading headline? Whatever next?

  32. flibblesan says:

    It wasn’t just the Daily Mail. Other newspapers ran this story with similar sort of headlines. The Sun for example said “Killed on his Xbox” and the Mirror went with “Boy, 16, dies after suffering heart attack while playing on Xbox”

  33. Greggh says:

    Freedom of speech sometimes is a bitch (hey, it rhymes). But it’s better than it’s evil cousin, Censorshit.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jonfon says:

      Freedom of speech sometimes is a bitch (hey, it rhymes).

      And this right here is why your rap career failed. Speech and Bitch don’t rhyme, (unless you like to tell people that they are a common deciduous tree, or the son thereof).

  34. Premium User Badge

    Monkeyshines says:

    The real problem is anyone looking at the DM as a source of journalism. Any blog, any website, any leaflet or flyer on the street could say this kind of bullshit or worse.

    The problem isn’t freedom of speech; it’s that people are not educated about the information they consume.

  35. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    It tells you something about what type pf person one is when someone willingly distorts news on a person’s death for sensation and money. It’s also not really respectful towards the deceased and the next-of-kin.

  36. nindustrial says:

    “This is a common writing trick that’s used by the Mail, where a fact needs to appear in a story for there to be even a fraction of honesty taking place, but is thrown in at the start of a sentence that ends on a completely different subject. This switch is designed to have you dismiss the first fact, and focus on the matter of screenings, which had been previously discussed by the article. ”

    This is so very spot on (well, the intent at least; I’m in the US, I don’t even see DM headlines). We were taught in legal writing to do exactly this when writing a piece of advocacy where you need to mention something but want to minimize its importance and otherwise quickly dismiss it. It’s one thing when advocacy is your job. It’s pretty scummy for a “journalist.”

  37. pipman3000 says:

    i once farted too hard and squirted some poo out while playing ps3 there ought to be a law against these diarrhea causing machines!!!

  38. Premium User Badge

    Cinek says:

    Solution? Ban Xbox. Force everyone into PC.

  39. tellrov says:

    It’s funny when you read his opinion on the DM and at the same time recall him saying Kotaku is an excellent website.

  40. JoshuaMadoc says:

    In the words of TotalBiscuit: “Daily Mail, or should I say, Daily Heil.”

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      Yeah no one said that before Total Biscuit. It’s not like it refers to something which was a thing before the 2nd World War.

  41. Rozza says:

    The funny thing is that given the general age and likely health conditions of XBox users compared with Daily Mail readers, I imagine that more people suffer heart attacks reading the Daily Mail than playing XBox. In fact, maybe more than one reader suffered a coincidental heart attack whilst reading that very article.

    “KILLED BY THE DAILY MAIL: Abysmal journalism caused heart attack of pensioner who died while reading inaccurate story about a child killed by a video games console.”

  42. Phantoon says:

    This sure is familiar to another news site publishing bombastic headlines and articles for a “social justice cause” oh wait