London’s Mayor changes mind about videogames

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, seems to have had a dramatic change of heart about videogames. Despite previously laying the ills of the world at the feet of our favourite pastime, Boris has now come out in full support for the industry in the lead up to the London Games Festival.

Back in 2006, the man known affectionately round these parts as ‘Bonkers Boris’ wrote a piece for The Telegraph newspaper attacking videogames. It was a truly amazing, so ridiculously venomous and misguided that you would be forgiven for thinking it was satirical. The whole article is pure comedy gold (and you can read it here), but let me bring you some of the edited highlights:

“It’s time to garrote the Gameboy and paralyse the Playstation… We get on with our lives while in some other room the nippers are bleeping and zapping in speechless rapture, their passive features washed in explosions and gore. They sit for so long that their souls seem to have been sucked down the cathode ray tube… They become like blinking lizards, motionless, absorbed, only their twitching hands showing they are still concious.”

See? Told you it was good. The whole point of this was to accuse videogames of causing “ignorance, underachievement and poverty” amongst young people and blame the gaming industry for falling literacy rates in the UK. He ends the article by encouraging parents to take a sledgehammer to their children’s console. Nice.

However, in major turnaround, the mayor has now decided that the videogame industry isn’t quite so bad after all. In fact, he’s allowing an army of blinking lizards to have their souls sucked down cathode ray tubes for a whole week, at the annual London Games Festival. And what’s more, he’s happy about it, saying this in a press release for the event. “I’m delighted that the London Games Festival is back in our city for its third year. It demonstrates the creativity and range of the gaming industry. With events across the capital, the festival has something for everyone and illustrates the popularity of this thriving form of entertainment.” Fantastic Boris, consider me signed up. Just one question though, do I bring my own sledgehammer or do you supply them?

The London Games Festival runs from October 31st until 1st November. You can find more info on the showpiece of the festival, EA’s Be The One event, here.