This Week’s Misinformed Award Goes To…

I’m going to say it’s a two-way tie this week. First off, we have Fox News, who reported that Mass Effect has explicit sex, full-frontal nudity, and that the game is marketed to children. All of these claims, of course, are completely false, and I wish they hadn’t run such misinformation on their network. The second is the Parents Television Council, who denounced the Entertainment Software Association for its intent to form a Political Action Committee.

Back to Fox News. I’m not going to berate them for misleading the public, as I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it was unintentional. After all, their sources were misguided as well. What I will do is attempt to set the record straight on each of the major claims about Mass Effect on the Fox News broadcast:

  • Explicit Sex: It was not at all graphic or explicit. It was more suggestive than anything, and you can see more graphic sexual relations than this on network television.
  • Full-Frontal Nudity: There wasn’t any. All of the partial nudity was from the side or in profile shots. Honestly, you can see far more nudity on the Fox network on a weekly basis, and on Fox it isn’t digital pixel representations of partial nudity, it’s real people.
  • Marketed to Children: Also untrue. The game is rated Mature, and very clearly lists the following: Contains Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence. It’s right on the box. Honestly, the only people to blame for children getting a hold of a Mature-rated game are parents, and to a lesser extent bad sales clerks at retailers.
  • That’s really all I have to say about that. On to the PTC…

    Grimwell already said pretty much all that needs to be said. But, the fact that the ESA wants to form a PAC to help inform the general public against misinformation like the above is a wonderful thing. It’s part of what makes this country great.

    Not to mention, it’s an organization of necessity when so many politicians rail against the game industry like it doesn’t operate within the laws and freedoms of our country, or that it doesn’t deserve the same treatment as other entertainment media like movies, music, television, and books.

    They make the same claims as every other anti-gaming entity, such as game developers intentionally subjecting millions of children to graphic material or the fact that a game called Manhunt 2 “still contained horrific violence that was thought to have been completely removed.” You honestly feel that something called Manhunt is NOT going to have violence?

    Again, when it really comes down to it, it’s mostly a result of bad parenting and bad retail employees. Request: Please stop blaming your lack of parenting skills on other people. You absolutely have to pay attention to what your children are watching, reading, and playing. I understand that many parents don’t have the time or energy to pay such close attention to your children, but it is your job.

    Parents are responsible for protecting their children, it’s not the responsibility of the things children should be protected from to protect children. Does the influenza virus avoid infecting children? No, you immunize your children so they are less likely to get it, and if they do get it, it’s less severe.

    Immunize your children from media that is too mature for them. Cancel your cable or subscribe only to a family package. Don’t let them shop alone EVER–not in a video game store, a movie store, a magazine store, anywhere. Take responsibility for your actions and protect your children from being exposed to the things you don’t want them exposed to.

    All that being said, I fully agree that Mature video games are being sold to too many children. It’s terrible, and should not be happening. If a game is rated Mature, retailers absolutely need to refuse sale to anyone who can’t produce identification that indicates they are over 18. It’s just that simple.

    And, I can tell you from experience, not all retailers will sell to children. I worked at EB many years ago and refused to sell Mature games to many minors. In fact, if I was caught doing so, I would have been fired. And that’s the way it should be.

    Now to make you (or me) a little less annoyed, here’s some nostalgia from the first game I frequently played online.

    Update:

    Author Faults a Game, and Gamers Flame Back (New York Times)

    Cooper Lawrence, the person who appeared on Fox News and criticized Mass Effect, apparently spent 2 hours watching someone play the game and had this to say:

    I recognize that I misspoke,” she said. “I really regret saying that, and now that I’ve seen the game and seen the sex scenes it’s kind of a joke.

    “Before the show I had asked somebody about what they had heard, and they had said it’s like pornography,” she added. “But it’s not like pornography. I’ve seen episodes of ‘Lost’ that are more sexually explicit.”

    I’m glad that she got her story straight, but next time, please get it straight before you appear on national television and cause so much controversy and further damage the reputation of our industry.

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