Ah, it seems like only yesterday that Florida attorney Jack Thompson was getting disbarred for making false statements in his obsessive quest to get Grand Theft Auto blamed for society's ills, but it seems that some things never change.
This time, the target is the upcoming action game Bulletstorm, which features a script by Venom and Fear Agent writer Rick Remender, which was recently declared by Fox News to be "The Worst Video Game In The World," because apparently there was nothing else going on in the world that may have been more important than than terrifying parents into not buying a game they weren't going to buy anyway. And like the same kind of hysterical reporting that blamed the decline and fall of Western civilization on everything from Elvis to Ice-T to Pokemon, they've gone out of their way to trump things up to scare folks.
Most of the entirely manufactured "controversy" centers not just on the game's violence -- which I imagine is because people got bored with that story right around the time Quake II came out -- but on the fact that awards from the game's "Skill Shot" system have double-entendre names:
"The in-game awards system, called Skill Shots, ties the ugly, graphic violence into explicit sex acts: 'topless' means cutting a player in half, while a 'gang bang' means killing multiple enemies. And with kids as young as 9 playing such games, the experts FoxNews.com spoke with were nearly universally worried that video game violence may be reaching a fever pitch."
That's right, everybody: Experts are universally worried about... puns. Admittedly, they're not my favorite kind of humor either, but I don't make a big deal out of it. I just don't read a lot of Peter David comics.
It's also worth noting that while no one's denying that the Skill Shots have sex-joke names, that's not all they have to offer:
Unless, of course, there are meanings of "Burn" and "Juggler" that I'm not familiar with, but to be honest, I'd rather not head over to UrbanDictionary to find out. I mean, if they're not going to fact-check, why should I?
As for the panel of concerned experts, Fox contacted "psychologist and book author" -- you know, as opposed to all those non-book authors -- Carol Lieberman, who was quoted as saying that video games, even video games that have yet to be released, cause rape.
"'The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games,' she said."
I don't like seeing rape crop up in my media either, but seriously? Of course, I was going to refute this claim that she's provided absolutely no evidence for, but then I remembered the uncontrollable wave of head-stompings, princess-kidnappings and bridge-axings that swept America in those dark days after Super Mario Brothers was released, not to mention the great Golden Ring shortage of '91. It's a slippery slope, folks.
Even better, as Rock Paper Shotgun pointed out, Fox not only asked M2 Research's Billy Pidgeon a hilariously leading question, but cherry-picked his response to make their scurrilous point. Here's the question and Pidgeon's full answer, with the parts that made it to the final article in bold:
Fox News: Bulletstorm glorifies violence for fun and extra points. You can shoot the bad guys in the private parts for points, get drunk and shoot for more points, throw a chain with spikes and hook enemies. But some of the worst parts are actually related to the names for the skill shots and the in-game dialogue, which is definitely profane. What should be done about these games?
Billy Pidgeon: The ESRB ratings and the market have all the control necessary to limit the availability of games with objectionable content for sale to minors. The current rating system determines who can buy a game based on content, and retailers typically strongly support these ratings. Games with violent or objectionable content will be rated T for Teen (13+), M (17+) or AO (18+). Bulletstorm is rated M and retailers will not be likely to sell the game to purchasers without ID certifying age.
The market will favor games with quality gameplay and content, so if Bulletstorm is a good game, gamers seventeen and older will likely buy it. Games without sufficient quality of gameplay that include highly objectionable violent or sexual content often pump up the level of this kind of content to gain media attention. This tactic typically fails, as can be seen in the poor sales performance of titles such as BMX XXX and Postal.
In the interest of full disclosure, I feel compelled to point out that I'm also against Bulletstorm, but only because first-person shooters give me motion sickness. Either way, I'm glad to see that someone's Concerned About The Children™, and I fully expect that Fox's negative publicity will lead Bulletstorm to the same financial failure that plagued Doom, Quake, and Grand Theft Auto.
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