The past forty-eight hours have seen the eruption of a battle between Fox News Network and gamers everywhere. After an obscenely one-sided panel discussing Mass Effect and its sexual content many devoted fans of that game and video games in general have been enraged. Fox News has received a barrage of negative press and EA has had the unenviable job of figuring out how to save face without pandering to ratings. However, the parties most affected by the recent chaos are the smaller players in this story.
BioWare is the most sympathetic of all. The employees at BioWare were painted to be nothing more than smut peddlers. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against smut, but when working in a community where people know who you are, and are suddenly being told that you’re selling pornographic material to their children, it can create problems. The comments from Live Desk With Martha MacCallum were not only slandering the game, but were inadvertently, or maybe purposefully, slandering the creators as well.
In a phone interview with The New York Times, BioWare’s Ray Muzyka said, “We’re hurt. We believe in video games as an art form, and on behalf of the 120 people who poured their blood and tears into this game over three years, we’re just really hurt that someone would misrepresent the game without even playing it. All we can hope for is that people who actually play our games will see the truth.” It seems that slowly the truth is coming out and it won’t be just people who have played the game who hear it.
Remember Cooper Lawrence, the author of The Cult of Perfection: Making Peace with Your Inner Overachiever and the fountain of uninformed comments that spouted forth from her? Well, it seems that overachieving doesn’t entail doing actual research until after the damage is done. In the same New York Times article Lawrence is quoted as saying ”I recognize that I misspoke…” and admitted that the extent of her research was listening to hearsay of hearsay about speculation saying, “Before the show I had asked somebody about what they had heard, and they had said it’s like pornography…” It is likely that the closest anyone will get to an apology from Lawrence is, “I really regret saying that, and now that I’ve seen the game and seen the sex scenes it’s kind of a joke.” Apparently many gamers hadn’t thought it was that funny.
As of Friday, January 25 her book had received 412 reviews of one-star on Amazon.com by angry gamers leaving comments pointing out her hypocrisy and offensive comments. The online bookseller since has removed the sardonically uninformed negative reviews. However, new ones are continuing to crop up. On a humorous note, Amazon has yet to remove the 1213 tags to the book of “ignorant”, 957 of “hypocrisy” and 921 of “hack”.
Regardless of the mistakes admittedly being on the part of Cooper Lawrence, and un-admittedly from Fox, it still seems that the only journalistic sources taking EA’s side seriously are other video game related news sources. Even The New York Times article outlining Lawrence’s close brush with the words “I’m sorry” had a tone of condescension to it with the opening, cute line of ”The Internet hath no fury like a gamer scorned.” Perhaps I’m reading too much into the tone of the article, but while others were wrong, it sounded like gamers are still receiving a flogging from the media.
What it comes down to is sincerity and intention. Fox News’ intentions with their invitation extended to EA are very transparent and obviously not what is in anyone’s best interest. As far as the personal damages done, it’s difficult to tell if these pseudo-retractions and half-apologies from Cooper Lawrence are on the level or just some late-coming public relations maneuvering so her book about perfection will continue to sell tepidly instead of ice-cold.