Oh, dear. If Fox News didn’t want people playing the new game Bulletstorm, due in stores February 22, then the outlet should have kept its mouth shut. Maybe the folks at Fox aren’t aware of this, but calling something “The worst video game in the world” is a fantastic way of making a lot of people want to play it, particularly rebellious teens. (One wonders whether the game company might’ve paid Fox for the privilege. They wouldn’t, would they?)
Bulletstorm is a gory new first-person shooter in which many of the high-skill moves are given sexually suggestive (and sometimes violent) names: topless, gang bang, rear entry, etc. The game is rated “M” by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, whose page on the game includes plenty of detail about its content for anyone who wants to check it out before they spend any money.
To make matters worse, author/psychologist Carol Lieberman told Fox News that “sexual situations and acts in video games — highlighted so well in Bulletstorm — have led to real-world sexual violence. ‘The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games,’ she said.” Not only are her claims totally bogus, since there’s no evidence that gameplay leads to violent behavior, but they aren’t even statistically accurate — at least not in the United States, where reports of sexual assaults have decreased steadily since 2006, according to data collected by the United Nations (.xls spreadsheet). Yes, it’s possible that incidences have gone up while reports have gone down, but if that were the case, Lieberman better have some pretty good evidence to back herself up.
(Lieberman, it’s worth noting, is the author of “Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets” (2010) and “Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live With Them, And When To Leave Them” (1998). One wonders how Fox News selected her to comment on the video game in the first place.)
Oh, and? The the lead producer of Bulletstorm is a woman, Tanya Jessen, who said she was heavily involved with every aspect of the production and even pushed for it to be more hardcore than her male co-creators wanted. She also fought for one of the lead characters, Trischka, to be “a strong female character that wasn’t stereotypically hot.”
Lastly, one of the experts interviewed for the Fox News piece, Billy Pidgeon of M2 Research, says his quotes were taken grossly out of context. It looks like Fox was picking and choosing what it wanted to boost the sensationalistic quality of the piece (shocking, I know). Check out the link to see what kinds of questions they asked their subjects, as well as the full answers he gave.
Since Bulletstorm isn’t out yet, it’s hard to tell how popular it will actually be. It’s worth noting — and some writers already have — that ultraviolent games aren’t traditionally all that popular. Many gamers were put off by games like Postal and Manhunt, either because they were too violent, they weren’t much fun to play, or both.
What’s the most violent game you’ve ever played? Did you keep playing — why or why not? What’s the most violent game you’ve played regularly? Did it influence your mood, thoughts, or behavior? If so, how?