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A Sky News presenter has attracted criticism for appearing to belittle a 13-year-old Tetris record breaker during a live broadcast.
Last month, Oklahoma teenager Willis Gibson became an internet sensation after he was crowned the first known person to ‘beat’ the original Tetris game on the NES by reaching its true ‘kill screen’, wherein the game crashes.
Previously, it was believed that only AI could reach Tetris’s kill screen, but teenager Gibson managed it, and this week footage of his stunned reaction attracted mainstream coverage across the globe.
“It’s never been done by a human before,” said Vince Clemente, the president of the Classic Tetris World Championship. “It’s basically something that everyone thought was impossible until a couple of years ago.”
However, one broadcaster attracted more attention than others on Thursday, for how its presenter appeared to mock Gibson’s achievement.
51-year-old Sky News journalist Jayne Secker covered the Tetris story during a live broadcast on Thursday. At the end of the segment, Secker appeared to break from script, stating: “As a mother, I would just say step away from the screen, go outside, get some fresh air. Beating Tetris is not a life goal.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, footage of the Sky News broadcast – captured by VGC’s Chris Scullion – attracted criticism from many high profile members of the video game industry on social media.
Bhavina Bharkhada, head of comms at the UK’s games industry trade body UKIE, wrote: “What’s bonkers about how this has been covered is if it was, say a child chess champion, we’d all be celebrating – they’d even be invited to Downing Street to play chess.”
Rare’s Becky Frost commented: “’Beating Tetris is not a life goal’ …yeah, for YOU, Sandra. How many world records had YOU set at 13 years old? What a small-minded, smug & horrible way to belittle this kid’s achievement. As A MoTheR I’d be super fucking proud. This took skill & determination, brilliant job!”
Sumo Digital community manager Jimmy Bowers wrote “As a Dad, I can safely tell you if Kit beat an unbeatable game and set a world record at 13 I’d be incredibly proud. That comment was so outdated and in such poor taste to basically punch down on a child I’m almost lost for words.”
Many users noted that Gibson’s own mother, a school teacher, had already commented publicly about her support for her Son’s competitive Tetris career.
“I’m actually OK with it,” she told the New York Times. “He does other things outside of playing Tetris, so it really wasn’t that terribly difficult to say OK. It was harder to find an old CRT TV than it was to say, ‘Yeah, we can do this for a little bit.’”