Wii – gateway for porn?

Wow, I guess it’s come to this: seen over at TechDirt was the alarmist report at WFAA-TV in Dallas that the Wii console can be a gateway for porn. Here’s the logic: the Wii has the ability to connect to a home network through its wireless Internet connectivity. Furthermore, the Wii has a web browser available for beta testing (it’s a version of the Opera browser). And (GASP) web browsers can access pornography. Ergo, the Wii is corrupting our children.

Indeed, late in the report, is this quote:

Other parents, however, complain that Nintendo’s scheme is unsatisfactory, and that the Wii browser lacks a “cyber-nanny” or filtering function.

Ummm, except for the built-in parental controls on the Wii, that is. Geez.

Based on this, I sent a polite note to the journalist who reported on the story:

Read your article about the Wii as a “porn gateway”, and as a parent of three children (2 of whom are old enough to play) this is certainly something to consider. However, your statement that “Nintendo’s scheme is unsatisfactory, and that the Wii browser lacks a ‘cyber-nanny’ or filtering function” is just false: upon installation of the Wii browser, there is a very obvious setup feature to set parental controls for all Internet use, requiring a parent-created passcode that must be entered before the browser can be started. In addition, the browser must be acquired via download from the Wii Shopping Channel, which itself can be blocked using the same parental access controls.

I have found the Wii to be a tremendous asset to our family activity; so much so that my in-laws were able to play a video game with their 6 and 4 year-old grandsons… the Wii is absolutely the only console on the market to be that friendly to three separate generations, and I’d hate to see parents misled into thinking it was “porn-friendly” when in fact it’s the most family-friendly gaming console I’ve seen.

I’d hope you consider updating your readers/viewers with this information.

But upon re-reading the original article, I was intrigued by this quote (it’s important to note that this is a quote, I’ll explain in a moment):

Young kids get it. In a blog, one child boasted, “The first thing I thought of when I downloaded the Wii browser was also porn.”

Now, I’d like to see the link to that blog post. A search at Technorati and at Google Blogsearch for that exact quote show only blogs talking about the WFAA report, not the alleged blog entry itself. (For those who are wondering: Technorati and Google index millions of blogs often within minutes of updating, and provide a near-real-time archive of what’s written in those blogs.) It would appear, actually, that the journalist is quoting this comment (where the full comment reads: “Like any red blooded American male ages 18-45, the first thing I thought of when I downloaded the Wii browser was also porn.”) over at Kotaku, left by Jay. Some other comments from this “child”:

  • “As the other guy who enjoyed Third Age, I applaud your bravery for coming out and representing us.”
  • “Nice post, that was almost Florian-esque.”
  • “The Ghostbusters were also supposedly “scientists” but all they did were make wisecracks and hit on Sigourney Weaver.”
  • “No video game tattoos are a good idea. All they do is guarantee you will have a very uncomfortable time if you ever went to prison.”
  • “Well, this is British, so its slightly funnier if you imagine some Benny Hill music in the background.”

In other words, Jay sure is one precocious kid. It’s bad enough to do a shoddy report claiming a kid-friendly console is actually out to harm them, another to quote someone entirely out-of-context, and even worse to mis-identify them as a child when they’re almost certainly an adult.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor issue, and I’m almost embarrassed for taking 15 minutes out of my day to comment on it. But how hard is it to get this story right? It’s an incredible family gaming console, by far the only one that grandparents, parents and kids can play together and all enjoy. Everything about this machine screams kid-friendly, from the Mii design to the preference for fun over eye-popping bleeding-edge graphics (a la PS3 and XBox 360) to the gameplay itself to, well, the parental controls.

OK, I’m done ranting.