Recent court proceedings in Kent, picked up by the majority of British tabloids yesterday, reveal that a mentally ill woman neglected her children and allowed two dogs to starve while obsessed with an online game.
The Daily Mail version of events pins the blame on Small World (pictured right,) an iPad-based board game developed by Days of Wonder. The article is illustrated with images from the title (confusingly, it initially used an image from Warhammer Online as well, until Games Workshop’s lawyers had a word) and refers to the game as “Small World” throughout. However, Days of Wonder has issued a statement denying any involvement with the case.
“Contrary to incorrect reports published in several English newspapers and their respective websites, Days of Wonder’s Small World board game is not connected to the tragedy that occurred in the London suburb of Swanley,” it says. “Apparently journalists and editors of some British newspapers can’t be bothered to check facts and distinguish between “smallworlds.com” and the family board game “Small World.”
That would appear to point the finger at Smallworlds (plural,) an entirely different game (pictured left,) which does at least have some of the online elements mentioned in the Mail article. But Smallworlds has also , stating “In the story which is currently making it way around various media sources, the game in question has been cited as Small Worlds. We wanted to take the opportunity to clarify to our community that this is not SmallWorlds.com.”
RockPaperShotgun spoke with Roger Pearson from the Mercury Press Agency, who wrote the original piece. His article was then syndicated to other newspapers. Pearson says “The best I can tell you is that the judge and lawyers all referred in court to a game called Small World – not Worlds. Whether they were wrong in the way they were referring to it we cant say,” before adding that a reporter in that situation can only reflect what is said in court, unless they want to find themselves in a whole lot of trouble.
This, at least, appears to confirm that the basis of the story is accurate. The woman exists and did indeed neglect her children and pets. Precisely which game she latched on to in her debilitated mental state, however, remains unclear.