Twenty-four days into the New Year and video game, news relations have become a sore point already. One of the best games of last year is finally getting the media blitzing that all successful video games inevitably get. BioWare’s Mass Effect has received its first real media attack from, whom else, Fox. The Fox News Channel had a piece with a panel discussion on the RPG that EA had responded to in a letter asking the network to ”set the record straight.”
Fox released a spot onto their news channel show Live Desk about Mass Effect with an unacceptable amount of mistakes. According to Fox’s Martha MacCallum Mass Effect contains full digital nudity and interactive sexual acts. Furthermore the network accused EA of marketing the game to teenagers despite the Mature rating. Fox is referring to this now as the “SEXBOX”. The piece started with a discussion on the game with psychology specialist, Cooper Lawrence and game expert, Geoff Keighley.
The entire tone of the discussion can be summed up in Cooper Lawrence’s incredulous “no” when asked if she’s played the game. Cooper betrayed her ignorance by espousing the chauvinist nature of the game playing as a man who lines women up as a harem. Neither party allowed Keighley to speak at length and brushed off any comment made by him, especially corrections. Later Mass Effect was referred to as ”Luke Skywalker meets Debbie Does Dallas.” This is shortly followed by the call to make Mass Effect an Adults Only game, from yet another person who had never played the game.
EA’s reaction was a stern letter from Jeff Brown, EA’s Vice President of Communication, to Fox asking for an apology due to misrepresentation and later, in a piece by Kotaku, to refer to the report as slanderous and damaging to the Alberta creators. The network hasn’t bothered to issue a retraction and in fact, according to Kotaku, Terri VanHorn of Fox simply blew off the letter with a ”single line text message from her Blackberry.” Excerpts of the letter can be found at Kotaku.com.
Kotaku has been championing the case since Fox aired the Mass Effect discussion with a panel of pseudo-intellectuals without any related credentials who have never played the game scoffing at Geoff Keighley of Spike TV for defending the game with the only logical and informed argument in sight. Unfortunately, arguments such as these are far and few between. With the wonderful advances and opportunities the internet offers, there is the double edge of anyone and everyone being able to voice their opinion to the masses. This is great until the person who feels a stream of obscenities is a cogent rebuttal comes along. When agenda-driven reporters get ahold of these “arguments” the gaming community has no choice but to look embarrassed and childish when the entire community is portrayed by these actions.
Fox wouldn’t be the first to make accusations such as these. Kevin McCullough, of “Musclehead Revolution” released an entire attack on the game earlier this month. Even after being corrected, his assault continued, and continued once he received semi-illiterate responses by the bucketful.
It seems that many reports on video games have gone from reactions for moral issues to being blatant, agenda-driven falsities. When reporters aren’t making up sensationally false stories, there’s the continued condescencion being doled out. Due to the symbiotic relationship between video games and most other media, it would make sense for there to be someone making sure that the doors won’t swing open allowing some Fig-Newton to enter spouting angry, uninformed and generally slanderous commentary and pass it off as news or even respectable opinion columns.
At this point everyone, including the “news source”, is being done a disservice. The proper reaction is for any advertiser, especially EA, who disagrees with Fox’s actions to pull all advertising from the network. There is the protection to freedom of the press making sure that negativity and hurtful remarks are allowed, otherwise I wouldn’t have a job. However, when that press threatens the livelihoods and reputations of people based on lies, lines need to be drawn in the sand, and actions need to be taken.