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Games attract stalkers, turn kids into mindless criminals

Marc Perton
02.15.06
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Don't look now, but another round of the endless cycle of game-panic is upon us. And this time, it's combined, to some extent, with that more recent villain of popular culture: the cyber-stalker. As explained in the breathless tone common on TV news programs, the WiFi networking built into the Nintendo DS can "lure unsuspecting children to dangerous places." According to a report aired by ABC-TV's Action News in Philadelphia, an 11-year-old girl using the DS's Pictochat program was propositioned several times by men asking questions about her age and gender. An "internet safety expert" warns viewers: "Predators are using Nintendo DS anywhere in the world." Action News does point out later in the broadcast that anyone chatting via PictoChat on a DS needs to be within range, and must also be using a DS, making it potentially easier to nab potential stalkers than it is via, say, online chat rooms (though we do have to admit that it is a little creepy, since the stalker is right there with the kid, as opposed to being thousands of miles away). Gamers facing opprobrium can at least take some comfort in the fact that the fear of games is a global phenomenon; a recent report out of Korea warned that games are turning kids into antisocial criminals. An article in the Chosun Ilbo newspaper warns that gamers "can become incapable of discriminating between reality and virtual reality, and thus tend to be more violent and, in the end, more likely to commit crimes."

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