UK’s Sun has a front page article about a woman who neglected her children and let her dogs starve to death while she obsessed over an online virtual reality game. The woman has been banned from the internet and from owning pets, and given a suspended sentence and community work.
So far so good.
The problem is that the game named by the Sun is Small World from Days of Wonder. The Sun splashed a big picture of the game box and described it as a game “where dwarves and giants battle to conquer the world”. The various UK newspapers who picked up the story dug deeper and included other pictures of the game and links to BGG and DoW. The Daily Mail even included an extensive sidebar about the game, including the helpful sentence “Unlike virtual worlds – where players assume an avatar and interact directly with each other – Small World is played like a traditional board game where you spread out your ‘army’ to take over nearby territories with the aim of taking over the whole board.”
And there’s the problem: Small World is an Ipad-based board game, not a virtual reality game. SmallWorlds by Outsmart is a virtual reality game.
I contacted the Sun, who passed me along to Roger Pearson of UK Law News (the Sun article was written by Chris Pollard). Roger told me that during the Maidstone Kent court proceedings, wherein the reporter picked up the story, the game named was, indeed, “Small World”, and not “SmallWorlds”, but that no description of the game was given at court. Which means that the description, pictures, and other detail were added by journalists after the core of the story was written.
Roger cheerfully admitted that the game could have been SmallWorlds. Which it probably was.
Update: Mitch Olson, co-founder of Smallworlds.com, posted in his forums that the event is tragic, but, according to the news sources, it’s not his game but Days of Wonder’s. A comment later in the thread uses the pictures in the news articles as proof of this.
Update 9/15: Mitch notes that there is confusion as to which game was involved. Regardless, the story is tragic, and his company will take steps to ensure that their gamers act responsibly.
I saw this reported in the Australian press, via the UK Daily Mail, and they are reporting the wrong game too. You think they would make a correction like this pretty quick – right now there is a office full of people who are defending their troll game to an angry public!
[…] in a child-neglect tragedy. As we updated, the erroneous Warhammer shot’s been pulled but the makers of both games have spoken out about the tragedy, both actually denying it’s their game. You’ll find the statements and my thoughts […]
so the owner of smallworlds says it is not an online game and cannot be connected through facebook, tell him i posted this
just because he proberly has more money then smallworlds.com does not mean he can turn the blaim on them WHAT A DOUGHE BAG!!!!!!
[Ed note: I combined three comments into one, since the second and third were corrections for the links.]
If it was played obsessively online it is obviously not the Days of Wonder ‘Small World’, for although you can follow DoW on FaceBook, and play various of their other computerised versions of their boardgames from the DoW website, Small World is, and has been so far, only available as a board game or as a 2 player i-Pad game.
This story is, at best, one of very poor journalism.
“ALEX OGC,” are you claiming that your links disprove anything that Days of Wonder has said? Because they do nothing of the kind.
The first is an image of the Small World homepage on Days of Wonder’s site. You can’t play Small Worlds there. There is, as they have said, no online version. What you’re showing is just a marketing page.
The second lets you sign up through Facebook to play certain Days of Wonder games, but Small World isn’t among them.
Did you actually read the pages involved?? If you’re going to accuse someone of lying, it behooves you to have your own facts straight.
Also, it’s spelled “douche bag.”
I also see that the Daily Mail (one of the many papers that ran this story) has now retracted their mis-attribution of Small World being the game in question.
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