Posted on January 23, 2008, Jonathan EA Requests FOX News Correct "Errors and Misstatements" About Mass Effect
Hoo boy, what an interesting past 48 hours it has been. First there was that report on FOX News where an “expert” and a panel of other people who hadn’t played a game since the 80′s ripped into the critically-acclaimed game, Mass Effect, for featuring “full digital nudity” and the “ability for the players to engage in graphic sex.” Following that, a large number of outraged gamers took to Amazon.com to post terrible reviews of the “expert,” Cooper Lawrence’s, book (currently, the book has a 1 1/2 star rating and is tagged with such words as “hack,” “garbage,” and “ignorant”). And now EA have decided they’re tired of their recently-acquired game getting dragged through the mud and have sent a request to FOX News to correct the inaccurate statement broadcast on the show.
Jeff Brown, Vice President of communications at EA, recently sent a letter to Teri VanHorn, producer of the Live Desk with Martha MacCallum show. Here are a number of excerpts from that letter, where he argues for corrective action to be taken:
“As the parent company of BioWare, the studio which created the game, EA would like you to set the record straight on a number of errors and misstatements which incorrectly characterize the story and character interactions in Mass Effect.”
“Your headline above the televised story read: “New videogame shows full digital nudity and sex.” Fact: Mass Effect does not include explicit or frontal nudity. Love scenes in non-interactive sequences include side and profile shots – a vantage frequently used in many prime-time television shows. It’s also worth noting that the game requires players to develop complex relationships before characters can become intimate and players can chose to avoid the love scenes altogether.
FNC voice-over reporter says: “You’ll see full digital nudity and the ability for players to engage in graphic sex.”
Fact: Sex scenes in Mass Effect are not graphic. These scenes are very similar to sex sequences frequently seen on network television in prime time.
FNC reporter says: “Critics say Mass Effect is being marketed to kids and teenagers.”
Fact: That is flat out false. Mass Effect and all related marketing has been reviewed by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and rated Mature – appropriate for players 17-years and older. ESRB routinely counsels retailers on requesting proof of age in selling M-rated titles and the system has been lauded by members of Congress and the Federal Trade Commission. In practical terms, the ratings work as well or better than those used for warning viewers about television content.”
[Concerning the panel in the discussion] “They have had zero experience with Mass Effect and are largely ignorant about videogames, the people who play them, and the ESRB system that governs their ratings and sales.”
“The resulting coverage was insulting to the men and women who spent years creating a game which is acclaimed by critics for its high creative standards. As video games continue to take audiences away from television, we expect to see more TV news stories warning parents about the corrupting influence of interactive entertainment. But this represents a new level of recklessness.
Do you watch the Fox Network? Do you watch Family Guy? Have you ever seen The OC? Do you think the sexual situations in Mass Effect are any more graphic than scenes routinely aired on those shows? Do you honestly believe that young people have more exposure to Mass Effect than to those prime time shows?
This isn’t a legal threat; it’s an appeal to your sense of fairness. We’re asking FNC to correct the record on Mass Effect.”
I have to say, kudos to EA for stepping up the plate and trying to sort out this whole mess that’s been going on for far too long already. People being offended by existing graphic images in a video game is one thing, but being offended by things that don’t exist all because they can’t be bothered to do a tiny bit of research? That’s just plain ridiculous. Unfortunately, my pessimistic side is worried EA’s pleas might fall on deaf ears.