Panorama criticised by friend of "addict"

Games documentary's claims "exaggerated".

The friend of an alleged videogames addict who featured in Panorama's recent documentary, Addicted To Games?, has hit out at the makers' selective editing and "exaggerated view of games addiction and its causes".

In a lengthy article published on This Is My Joystick, Trent Pyro (real name Tom Hubbard) explains how Panorama came to interview his friend, Joe Staley, whose obsession with Modern Warfare 2 was explicitly linked in the film to his dropping out of university and racking up huge debts.

"As a fledgling media professional... I felt that having them film at my house would be an interesting experience," said Pyro. "They were amicable guys, if a little pushy... Little did I know how the whole thing would turn out."

While accepting he was not "misrepresented" and his comments "were used well within context," Pyro's beef with the makers is that "much of what I had said was tactically cut as it did not support the theme of the piece".

Staley is seen in the film describing how he "couldn't physically pull [himself] away from the console" during "12 hour" Call of Duty sessions. In a voiceover, reporter Raphael Rowe states: "His habit cost him dearly. He's been thrown out of university and left thousands of pounds in debt, partly from buying games."

Pyro is adamant, however, that this does not reflect reality: "Despite the fact that, for a time, I was concerned about his life I really never saw it as that much of a problem," he stated in the post.

"Joe was thrown out of university because he was failing and he couldn't afford to keep going. His disinterest in university was a reason for his increase in gaming, not the other way around. The debt was more a result of Joe's bad budgeting skills than an addiction to gaming."

He added: "I do acknowledge that some people play games way too much and it negatively impacts on their lives.

"My dad spends almost all of his free time reading and listening to the radio. Does that mean he's addicted to reading? I'd say so, but that's not perceived by people as being a bad thing."

In an exclusive interview with Eurogamer, Panorama producer and director Emeka Onono accused the games industry of being "very defensive" over the issue of gaming addiction.

"We do say several times it's a small minority... But it's an issue that does need to be raised and does need to be discussed."

Pyro, however, was left unconvinced by Panorama's approach: "If this issue really is a problem and really needs to be addressed, we need someone who speaks to us in our own terms. Someone who we can respect from our perspective.

"Until that happens, documentaries such as [Addicted To Games?] will succeed in doing only one thing in my opinion; creating undue fear and concern for an issue that is not yet fully understood by anyone."

You can read the full editorial over at This Is My Joystick.

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