Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fox News Calls Bulletstorm the Worst Videogame in the World


As a game filled with violence, profanity, and skill shots with names like "Deep Penetration" and "Gag Reflex," Bulletstorm was sure to draw the ire of those who routinely take issue with violent videogames. But it's not every day that a game is bestowed a title like "worst videogame in the world" for said content, yet that's what Fox News is suggesting in a report on Bulletstorm and its contents that earned it a Mature rating from the ESRB.
Beyond that eye-catching headline, the report also quotes various experts, several of which denounce Bulletstorm's violence. Psychologist and author Carol Liberman had an especially harsh comment regarding violent videogames, saying, "The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in videogames." The basis for this claim isn't mentioned in the story, and is simply presented as an accepted fact.
Psychologist Jerry Weichman also offered up a statement: "If a younger kid experiences Bulletstorm's explicit language and violence, the damage could be significant."
The story also focuses on the supposed shortcomings of the ESRB rating system. It's suggested that laws be put in place similar to Califronia's which makes it illegal for a Mature-rated game to be sold to a minor. The penalty is a $1,000 fine.
Electronic Consumers Association president Hal Halpin was quoted in the story as saying, "Between a great ratings system, parental controls on the consoles, and the major retailers inhibiting the sale of Mature-rated games to minors, the matter is really one for parents and adults to consider, individually. 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."
Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski recently spoke to CVG about Bulletstorm's violence. He said he finds the attacks on the industry "very scary," but also sees it as flattering. He added, "There wasn't any sort of process [during the game's creation] where we considered ripping off someone's head and shitting down the neck or something like that. It was all in the name of fun."
There is, of course, the notion that any publicity is good publicity -- this will certainly raise the game's profile beyond what Duty Calls could accomplish. But at a time when the Supreme Court is in the process of deciding a landmark case for the videogame industry, it can't be good for a major news outlet to report on a claim "that sexual situations and acts in video games -- highlighted so well in Bulletstorm -- have led to real-world sexual violence" without citing any actual studies or evidence.

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