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Bulletstorm: The "Worst Video Game In The World?" Asks Fox News

sjohnson
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Posted February 8, 2011 - By Stephen Johnson

Hands-On: Bulletstorm

Fox News has noticed Epic's upcoming shooter Bulletstorm, and thinks the game might be the "Worst videogame in the world." By now you should know the media firestorm drill. It goes like this: Fox News contends Bulletstorm is unacceptable because it features:

  • profanity
  • violence
  • gore

Then, Fox News contacts some "experts" who say really dumb things (in my opinion) and wring their hands over the effect this all might have on our children. Then Fox News wonders whether the government will step in and punish retailers for selling the games to kids. Then, they post an article and I link to it.

Perhaps I should ignore these stories, because they are so ridiculous, but I can't help myself.  I actually like it when Fox News and other members of the old school media wring their hands about video games being too violent or too sexual or whatever. It's intellectually comforting because Fox's arguments are so easy to refute. Here, watch:

Argument: Fox News' Carol Lieberman, a "psychologist and book author" says “The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games." 

Refutation: According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the per-capita victimization rate of rape has declined from about 2.4 per 1000 people (age 12 and above) in 1980 to about 0.4 per 1000 people, a decline of about 85%. Where video game playing has increased a billion-trillion percent in the same period. I can only conclude that psychologist and book author Carol Lieberman is either amazingly ignorant, or simply not telling the truth.

Besides, Bulletstorm, while certainly violent, isn't sexual. Rape hasn't been featured in a "mainstream," commercially released video game since...ever, as far as I know.

Another:

Arguments: “If a younger kid experiences Bulletstorm's explicit language and violence, the damage could be significant,” According to Dr. Jerry Weichman, a clinical psychologist at the Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Southern California.

Refutation: Clinical studies on the effects of video games on kids have been inconclusive. Besides, until you define the word "damage," there isn't an argument here at all. Our entertainment may be very violent, but actual rates of violent crime in the United States have been dropping for more than 20 years, and yet violence in games has been becoming more and more prevalent and more and more graphic, so you have to conclude that if video games affect kids' behavior, it's only to make them less violent, not more so. (That's a specious argument too, of course because correlation doesn't equal causation.)

Another:

Argument: “The marketing is clearly aimed at children and young adolescents,”  Melanie Killen, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Maryland said. “Politicians were organizing efforts to address violent video games prior to the presidential election but got distracted by the election. It is time for senators and representatives to come back to the issue.”

Refutation: According to the ESA, the average age of gamers is 34, and they have strict rules about how M-rated games are marketed, rules that EA has stuck by. Violent video games are clearly marked by the ESRB with an easily understood rating system that has been shown to be effective for parents who take five seconds to look at it. As for the second part of Killen's argument, politicians haven't really been focusing on this issue because the underlying legal issue of whether retailers can be punished for selling games to children is going to be settled by the Supreme Court in the coming months, so what would they really do?

Conclusion: Video games are just pretend, so let's not get all in a twist about it, shall we?

Source: Fox News

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Bulletstorm: The "Worst Video Game In The World?" Asks Fox News
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