Child Development Expert: Playable Female Characters In Call Of Duty Will Harm Girls Just As It Has A Generation Of Boys

from the the-REAL-scare-quotes dept

The Call of Duty series is finally giving players the option to play through the campaign mode as a female soldier. The nod towards the existence of female game fans is every bit as obligatory as the game's campaign mode, but now the game's developers are being accused of pushing girls towards a future as emotionless, jaded killbots. You know, the way it has millions of young men over the past decade.

Someone calling herself a "child development expert" had this to say about Black Ops 3 (as quoted by the Daily Mail, a publication that calls itself a "journalistic endeavour"). [h/t Lizzy Finnegan]

The controversial video game series Call of Duty has been accused of encouraging young women to be more violent by introducing its first female soldiers.

Players of Call of Duty Black Ops 3 kill opponents with an array of weapons or even bare hands. Sue Palmer, a child development expert, said of the 18-rated game: "It will have the same impact on girls as it will have in any child. The evidence is that it will make them more cold and reckless or more withdrawn and fearful."
Not pictured: outcomes not linked to antisocial behavior, evidence backing up Palmer's claims, any other "accusations" other than Palmer's.

Palmer is the kind of "expert" the Daily Mail calls on when it wants to portray video games as the downfall of civilization.

Here's an insta-classic by the Daily Mail titled "Chilling truth about the video games your children got for Christmas," which contains this hilariously terrible picture caption.

If you can't see the embed, the caption says:
Violent: Pay Day 2 includes point-blank shooting not unlike the Kenyan Mall massacre in September
The 2013 article contains a quote from Sue Palmer, who at this point was a mere "educationalist." If you're a fan of anecdotal evidence, Palmer has you covered.
Educationalist Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, says: ‘One reception teacher told me how, on the day a new edition of Grand Theft Auto was released, one father arrived to pick up his five-year-old son brandishing a copy, and they went joyfully off to bond over the carnage.’
Palmer doesn't seem to care much for the trappings of the modern age and never fails to have the perfect, biased anecdote on hand for any situation. Kids using iPads "too soon?" Palmer has seen it with her own two eyes.
Educationalist and literacy expert Sue Palmer has been taken aback by how quickly iPad use for even the youngest children has become normalised since these gadgets were introduced in 2010. Far from helping children develop, Sue believes overuse of tablets can slow their progress.

“I recently visited a well-heeled nursery where a new mother introduced her three-year-old son by saying what a genius he was on his iPad,” she says. “However those skills came at a cost. Although the child could walk, he preferred to crawl. He had the language skills of an 18-month-old. This boy probably had some underlying developmental problem – but I’m sure long hours on the iPad made it much worse.”
Nothing like having your child pre-judged (along with your parenting skills) by a prominent member of a "well-healed nursery." But that's Palmer for you.

Palmer is also buddies with another tech hater, the Baroness Susan Greenfield, who memorably asserted that Twitter turned adults into infants because it's all about "look what I'm doing" -- a claim she backed up by using the outdated cliche of the social network being filled with nothing but pictures of people's breakfasts. (That's Instagram.)

So, this is the sort of person who sees the introduction of female characters into a very male-dominated series and says to herself -- and then out loud later to a "journalist" -- this game is bad for young, female children. This game, which is rated 18+ should probably not be played by young girls, which is pretty much exactly what the rating on the box says, only without all the additional evidence-less baggage thrown in.

No one is recommending children play this game. Yes, children will play this game. Guess what? Pretty much every single one of them will turn out perfectly fine, even the girls who haven't normally been "targeted" by the purveyors of violent games.

The problem is that -- beyond spouting ignorance in a variety of sensationalist publications -- Palmer's writings on the subject have been cited by UK government publications, which means she's made a few inroads towards making the national conversation about video games and technology stupider. This sort of alarmism makes for spectacular pull quotes and feeds into feelings many legislators have about themselves.

Politicians believe they turned out fine, and they didn't grow up with iPads and smartphones. And today's youths often seem weird and scary… so technology might be the problem. Let's keep a legislative, overly-wary eye on it.

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Filed Under: call of duty, females, sue palmer, video games, violence


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  • icon
    Kaelis (profile), 9 Nov 2015 @ 8:34am

    "Politicians believe they turned out fine, and they didn't grow up with iPads and smartphones."

    Based on how most of today's politicians turned out, get the kids more iPads.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    spodula, 9 Nov 2015 @ 8:42am

    I was right with you until you said

    "Daily mail".

    Sorry...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      spodula (profile), 9 Nov 2015 @ 8:48am

      Re: I was right with you until you said

      I should point out in more detail.

      In the UK, The daily mail is regarded as only one step up from those papers who regularly regard genuine UFO sightings and abductions.

      It places itself as "Conservative" but is actually mainly just opportunistic rubbish. There has been good journalism done there (The phone hacking stuff for instance), but mostly its complaining about Immigration, the EU, and anything else they think they can get to sell papers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 9 Nov 2015 @ 8:43am

    It is all the fault of video games, not an effort by "experts" like her giving parents other things to blame than their own failures to parent.

    Your child will be completely screwed up, but it is not your fault. Buy my book and detox your child and they will grow up perfect.

    Perhaps the problem is to many experts trying to latch onto something to blame, playing on parents fears rather than reality to get a payday.

    Did we just discover the DHS playbook?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2015 @ 8:47am

    Payday 2

    The game Payday 2 also has punishment for killing of civilians, both in terms of police response and monetary penalties against the player.

    There's also two females in Payday 2. One from Ireland and one from Scotland. Both female characters do commit the same crimes as their male counterparts.

    I don't hear anyone complaining about that being a thing.

    The latest Call of Duty game does reflect that women are now in the armed services. So, yea equality!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 9 Nov 2015 @ 12:43pm

      Re: Payday 2

      "The game Payday 2 also has punishment for killing of civilians, both in terms of police response and monetary penalties against the player."

      Also, Bain gets very sarcastic and shouty. "Hey, Mr. Blonde! Been watching too many movies lately?"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2015 @ 9:00am

    Don't put female characters in a game, get complaints.
    Put female characters in a game, get complaints.

    Can't fucking win this shit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2015 @ 10:39am

      Re:

      Well you can't please everyone.

      Once people wake the fuck up they will realize that all things are equal and circular.

      The people bitching about removing religion from life are the same as the people trying to force their religion on you.

      Its all the same, never has been different. At the end of the day, every rule on the books should not be evaluated based on if it was derived from someones humanistic or supernatural rules of ethics or moral, but instead does this rule conform to the majority will and if so, does it abuse people?

      You will find that every walk of life will have a reason for justifying their special brand of oppression on others.

      Or in other words, Christians would like to punish your infidelity while Liberals would like to punish your faith. Either way you you have a group of people trying to fuck with you over things that they really have no fucking business sticking their noses in.

      An here with video games... Christians will call them evil if they don't pass their religious bullshit-o-meter while the Liberals will say they are evil if they do not pass the political correctness bullshit-o-meter.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2015 @ 9:02am

    Right track

    The conclusion is wrong but the assertion is true. It is exactly as harmful to girls sd ut is to boys. Not at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2015 @ 9:03am

    Qualifications (from her website):

    Certificate in Primary Education (Moray House College, Edinburgh);
    Reading Diploma (Open University);
    Master in Education (Manchester University).

    I'll readily admit I'm not familiar enough with the content of her education to make a qualified judgement. But to me these do not seem like the kind of qualifications a government should base policy on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2015 @ 9:14am

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Nov 9th, 2015 @ 9:03am

      Honestly, this is flame bait but the smartest people in a university do not go into education. Nobody looks at someone in (early childhood or any field of) education and thinks "damn, that person is smart. That's a hard major"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Cressman, 9 Nov 2015 @ 9:07am

    Seriously?

    Let's face it... girls aren't flocking to the game to play a female character. The truth is, the female playable characters are there for the guys.

    I've been playing MMO's since the BEGINNING (Neverwinter Nights on AOL anyone)... back then, 99.999999% of female "toons" were guys... now, it's more like 70% of female toons are guys.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2015 @ 9:12am

    Gamergate feminists?

    Have any of the Gamergate feminists chimed in on this issue yet?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    blogagog (profile), 9 Nov 2015 @ 9:17am

    Expert opinion

    I have to say that I playing shootemup games makes you want to kill people irl any more than playing football makes you want to kick stuff through anything vaguely shaped like a Y irl.

    And I'm more than an expert on child development. I actually WAS a child earlier in life and went through the development firsthand.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sorrykb (profile), 9 Nov 2015 @ 9:32am

    Have any of the Gamergate feminists chimed in on this issue yet?

    I'd imagine we'd all agree this is ridiculous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    kallethen, 9 Nov 2015 @ 9:38am

    Violent video games

    Speaking as a parent:
    I'll agree that games like the Call of Duty series or Pay Day are usually a little too violent to be age appropriate for my kid. They are games meant for a more mature audience, like R rated movies.

    But like R rated movies, it should be on the PARENT to make that decision on what to let the kid play. Sadly, these days many parents want to let everybody else do the parenting...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2015 @ 9:46am

    ...Politicians believe they turned out fine...

    We citizens beg to differ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2015 @ 9:48am

    We better ban women from military service then as that would have a much pronounced effect than a video game.

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    avideogameplayer, 9 Nov 2015 @ 10:06am

    It's about time we screw up the girls just as much as the guys...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2015 @ 11:15am

    Having grown up with an unhealthy respect for "experts", I am pleased to announce that ever since regaining my senses I have an instantaneous knee-jerk 'ignore' response whenever someone is so described in an excuse to make half-wit incoherent dribbling rubbish sound better than it is.

    "Nothing like having your child pre-judged (along with your parenting skills) by a prominent member of a "well-healed nursery." "

    should read:

    "Nothing like having your quoting skills pre-judged (along with your reading ability) by prominently mis-quoting the quoted paragraph (which spelled 'well-heeled' correctly).

    An expert reporter at work?

    (Damn, I am in a bad mood, need more coffee, sry).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 9 Nov 2015 @ 12:55pm

      Re:

      Yeah, well, this is the Internet. Mostly I've learned to grit my teeth, ignore the errors and move on. It's either that or offer my services as a copy editor. Probably wouldn't work out even if they accepted, I already spend too much of my free time playing Payday 2 and learning to be a mass murderer.

      So here, have a cup of coffee on me.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 9 Nov 2015 @ 12:54pm

    Ugh. We just suck at deciding what is dangerous and what isn't.

    These games are popular across Europe and in Japan, both of which are well known for their low rates of violent crime.

    And I'm still not ready to forgive the moral community over
    Stairway to Heaven and AD&D.

    On the other hand, I still cannot reconcile SCOTUS jurists being convinced by Jack Bauer that torture is okay.

    Kids are probably safe from violent media, but supreme court justices are not? What gives?

    In the meantime, I don't expect BLOPS III to be any good.

    And Rainbow-Six Vegas 2 allowed people to play female troopers in multiplayer way back in 2007, so why is this a thing now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2015 @ 5:41pm

    Why is it that when it comes to video games people can't seem to understand the rating system? Most people at least recognize that movies are made for different age groups why is it that they can't grasp the concept that video games might be the same way. If you wouldn't let you kid watch an R rated movie, don't let them play an M rated game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 9 Nov 2015 @ 8:14pm

      People ignore the rating system

      It's the same problem with comic books. People still have this notion that games and comics are just for kids and so you have instances where grandmas get their grandson GTA V and then take it back for being age inappropriate.

      Heh, but exposure of kids to Rated M games might have helped push them into our culture.

      Pick up that can, citizen.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Nov 2015 @ 10:23pm

    The impending apocalypse that isn't

    So playable female characters might affect girls in the same way they've affected boys for decades now?

    Awesome, yet another wave of non-existent violence incoming I guess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve, 10 Nov 2015 @ 4:54am

    Why is this even a story?

    As already noted, Daily Mail, if they still put chips in newspaper then that's all it would be useful for, but they don't even do that anymore and toilet paper isn't expensive, pity the trees!
    And Sue Palmer, a quick net check shows she's a primary school teacher with a big mouth and an over inflated sense of expertise.
    More fuel on a fire that isn't even burning!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 10 Nov 2015 @ 3:10pm

    The ONLY Daily Mail you need:

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 10 Nov 2015 @ 3:16pm

    2 can play

    “However those skills came at a cost. Although the child could walk, he preferred to crawl. He had the language skills of an 18-month-old. This boy probably had some underlying developmental problem – but I’m sure long hours on the iPad made it much worse.”
    Well that's Apple for you.... I gave my son an Android tablet at birth and he could tap-dance, sing "La Traviata", hack into MI6 and had re-decorated his own room with Michelangelo-esque murals by the time he was 2.

    I'll see your pointless hyperbole and raise you...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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