Today, in my favourite doesn’t-cost-anything London tabloid (I won’t say which one), I saw a story about a Nintendo DS swearing at an eleven-year-old girl. Being more accustomed to seeing gamers hurl profanities at their consoles, rather than the other way around, I felt the need to read on.
It seems the game in question was Animal Crossing, while the little girl was Khloe (like ‘Chloe’, but with a ‘K’) Leslie of Inverbervie, Angus. Apparently, she was playing the game, and was ‘horrified when her favourite computer game took her to a vulgar new level – and called her a ‘******* cow’’. At first glance, a series of asterisks doesn’t seem all that offensive, and seeing as ‘mooing cow’ doesn’t quite fit, I assumed this was the old tabloid trick of replacing a swear word with a series of non-offensive but non-related characters. That way instead of seeing the word in print and saying it to yourself in your head, you see the asterisks, realise they mean ‘fucking’ and say it to yourself anyway. Of course, some might argue it’s to protect the ‘kiddies’, like little Khloe. However, I’d argue that the majority of children are more than familiar with these words anyway (I know I was).
As if to prove this point, the story, which appeared in the Metro (oops! Bag’s open, and there goes the cat) ends with a quote from a Nintendo UK spokesman: ‘‘It is either a pirate copy or it is user-inputted text’’.
While the technology to play pirated games on the DS isn’t that hard to find, I can’t imagine anyone spending the necessary time to insert a few swear words in to the code of a commercial ROM (not without going the whole hog and inserting naked sprites). Also, having played Animal Crossing, I know the game allows you to name some of its characters. So if you wanted to call one of them something like, mmm… I don’t know… ‘fucking cow’ you could do just that.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that’s what innocent little Khloe did, but it’s certainly a possibility. All this story did was highlight a clear case of lazy journalism, where a writer saw a chance for an emotive photo and a ‘funny’ headline: ‘Nintendo DS (Dirty Swearwords)’. This demonstrates yet another case of the tabloids blaming technology for the ills of society, when in fact, it’s the humans operating it that cause the problems.
Also, if the Metro thinks ‘fucking’ and ‘cow’ are dirty swearwords, I’d suggest typing ‘dirty swearwords’ into any search engine, for an education in true profanity. I’d offer to get them started, but I don’t want to offend the kiddies and have the tabloids try to shut down the internet.