Fox Goes After Bulletstorm
So Bulletstorm is coming February 22 and if you have been following it at all, you know that this game can get kinda messy and crass. That alone should have warned you this was coming. Yesterday Fox News posted an article called “Is Bulletstorm the Worst Game in the World?” which says that “video games lead to rape.” Oh, boy, this is gonna be good.
According to Fox’s panel of experts, some of the Skill Shots which directly reference sexual acts (e.g. Deep Penetration, Gang Bang, Bad Touch) could do “significant damage” to children. Jerry Weichman, a clinical psychologist at the Hoag Neurosciences Institute, says that this game has “the potential to send the message that violence and insults with sexual innuendos are the way to handle disputes and problems.” Well yeah, just about everything with any kind of violence has the “potential” to send the message “Use violence to solve problems,” but that doesn’t mean they do.
Carole Lieberman, a psychologist and author, also believes that games can lead to violence in real life. Lieberman says “The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games.” She provides no evidence to support this theory, and RAINN directly contradicts her claim. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, the U.S.’s largest anti-sexual assault group, say that rape has decreased by 60% over the past 18 years.
Now, this game is rated a hard M for quite obvious reasons, but Fox News and (at least one) other(s) believe that the rating system is worthless and more strict enforcement is needed. Melanie Killen, a professor at Maryland University, believes that the ESRB rating system is inefficient and that 9-year-olds are playing games like Bulletstorm and that no one is doing anything about it. She says that this game is being “clearly aimed at children and young adolescents.” Killen has pushed for stricter laws on violent video games and this year the Supreme Court actually did pass a law that would fine retailers $1000 if they sold games to minors in California. Luckily, there are people out there to stand up for games.
The Entertainment Software Association, a group that, among other things, combats governmentally imposed video game censorship and regulation, has sued the government to try to have the law overturned. Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association, believes the matter of kids playing games like Bulletstorm “is really one for parents and adults to consider, individually.” He also told Fox, “I respect the creative rights of game developers to make a game like Bulletstorm in the same way that I appreciate Quentin Tarantino’s right to make over-the-top movies like Kill Bill.”
People attacking Bulletstorm believe that the market campaign’s hyping of all the blood and violence is an attempt to lure in young people (because everyone knows what kids love is gratuitous violence and sex jokes they probably won’t get), but video game analyst Billy Pidgeon thinks that it is just being used to hide a shit game. “Games without sufficient quality of gameplay – games 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.”
There are also those who praise the game for being innovative. Hal Levy of the National Youth Rights Association says, “One thing that tends to be ignored is that if Bulletstorm consisted solely of beating people up, it wouldn’t be fun to play. It’s been praised for encouraging innovative thinking. Bulletstorm involves developing new moves and dispatching of enemies creatively. Plenty of emotionally unstable adults will play the game and they’ll be fine.”
Later that day, EA issued a response to the Fox News attack to Game Informer:
“As you know, Bulletstorm is a work of entertainment fiction that takes place in the 26th century on the abandoned fictitious paradise planet Stygia, where our heroes fight mutants, monsters, flesh-eating plants and gigantic dinosaurs.
Epic, People Can Fly and EA are avid supporters of the ESA and believe in the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) rating system. We believe in and abide by the policies put in place by the ESRB.
Bulletstorm is rated M for Mature for blood and gore, intense violence, partial nudity, sexual themes, strong language and use of alcohol. The game and its marketing adhere to all guidelines set forth by the ESRB; both are designed for people 17+. Never is the game marketed to children.
Epic, People Can Fly and EA support the right of artists to create works of entertainment fiction for consumers of all ages, including adults who enjoy action adventures like Bulletstorm. Much like Tarantino’s Kill Bill or Rodriguez’s Sin City, this game is an expression of creative entertainment for adults.”
Fox also tried to get statements Epic, Microsoft and People Can Fly, each of them refusing to talk. Fox even tried to get a statement from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, who had absolutely no involvement in the development of Bulletstorm, and all they said was “No comment.”
Now I don’t know about everyone else, but I am getting kind of sick and tired of Fox news coming after games because of something they believe to be objectionable may or may not be in a game. All they end up doing is inadvertently promoting the game and making themselves look like total idiots. Remember in 2007 with the whole “Se”Xbox thing for Mass Effect? All the Taliban stuff for Medal of Honor? Six Days in Fallujah? All the bullshit tests these people get saying “This one scene of digital sideboob and references to sex acts cause kids to become rapists and serial killers,” the supposed experts with their “conclusive proof,” the laws someone is trying to pass in all the states, this makes me glad I live in Canada where all this shit (if any of it actually happens) happens under the rug and out of the public eye.
Unfortunately for those of you in America have to deal with this shit until the next entertainment medium comes out and these morons can start attacking that. Until that day comes, keep the fight alive for everyones’ right to game.