Will Bulletstorm Murder Your Children? (No)

By John Walker on February 9th, 2011 at 12:37 am.

OMG I'm going to do a violence now!

Yesterday Fox News asked the headline question, “Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World?” Which is spectacular. It’s a quite remarkable piece of writing, worthy of our own Daily Mail. And why is it the WORST GAME IN THE WORRRRLD? Because they’ve named some of the Skill Shots with sexual innuendos. Which, they absolutely astonishingly claim, causes rape.

If it weren’t scaremongering bullshit that will misinform those who do not understand that their news source makes up any old rubbish, it’d be hilarious. And some lines really are. For instance,

“players are rewarded for shooting enemies in the private parts (such as the buttocks).”

First of all, is a parenthetic explanation really necessary for “private parts”? Were they concerned that readers may think they’re talking about a secluded beach house or farm driveway? And secondly, of all the private parts to single out, the bottom is by far the funniest. They wanted to shock their audience, but they don’t want to cause them to faint!

I can feel my moral fibre curdling.

However, while the article is all outlandish nonsense, it very quickly descends into something more appalling. After observing that the game has Skill Shots with names like “gang bang” and “topless”, and literally nothing else, they conclude that it is promoting rape.

It’s an excellent example of letting a loose fact mutate as the story goes on. It begins by saying that the game “ties” violence to sex acts by the use of sex-themed words. Then they quote various medical professionals, the first explaining that,

“If a younger kid experiences Bulletstorm’s explicit language and violence, the damage could be significant.”

Now it has become “explicit language”. That’s cited words like “topless”, in case you’d forgotten. Then the next quote moves things on a stage further.

“Carol Lieberman, a psychologist and book author, told FoxNews.com that sexual situations and acts in video games — highlighted so well in Bulletstorm — have led to real-world sexual violence.”

We’ve gone from a word appearing on-screen that puns something naughty, to highlighting sexual situations. Like a man being topless? Apparently so. And then they hit their mother lode. Lieberman adds,

“The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games.”

And there they have their story: Bulletstorm, and games like it, cause rape. Now they are “sexual scenes”. The mutation is complete. Based on the game’s featuring the words “topless” and “gangbang”. The quote comes from Carol Lieberman – “psychologist and book author” – whose claim that there’s an increase in rapes in the US is peculiar. While we in no way trivialise the severity of sexual crimes, this is purely about investigating the claims made and the related numbers, and they don’t hold up.

Crimes just went up IN THE WHOLE WORLD.

The number of rape convictions, and indeed reported rapes, has enormously fallen in the US since the 70s (when gaming made its commercial début). This Washington Post article from 2006 discusses how the 85% drop over the last three decades has been a consistent fall, a clear trend in the numbers going down. UN statistics show that there were fewer rapes in the US in 2009 than there were in 2008. Not significantly fewer, certainly, but no indication of the quoted increase. Let alone an increase that can be attributed to the apparent sexual scenes in video games.

So who is Dr. Carol Lieberman? She’s a TV shrink, her name spelt correctly is Carole Lieberman, and she has no stated expertise or insight into videogames. In the 90s she wrote books with titles like, “Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live with Them, and When to Leave Them” and “Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets”. Then after the events of 2001 turned to tomes such as, “Coping with Terrorism: Dreams Interrupted”. (Her website promises that in 2009 she’ll be releasing “American Dreams Interrupted: How to Stay Safe and Sane in a Time of Terror”, but that doesn’t seem to have happened.) We have contacted her to ask for evidence for her claims.

Oh no, I've done a murder.

The previous two quotes came from Dr. Jerry Weichman, a clinical psychologist at the Hoag Neurosciences Institute in California. He’s a motivational speaker for teens, and his site also bears no suggestion of time spent researching the effects of gaming. We’ve also contacted him to ask him on what his claims are based.

Things return to the amusingly daft as we continue on, with the claim that the game won’t sell well because of this content. The wonderfully named Billy Pidgeon at M2 Research explains to them that games with excessive violence and sexual content “simply don’t sell well.” Well, that’s Fox’s summary of what he said (and one that someone should probably tell Activision). But it seems that Pidgeon may not have been talking about Bulletstorm at all. In fact, I wonder if he knew specifically what he was being asked about, since his quote appears to be completely out of context. Edit: Pidgeon has confirmed for us that his quotes were taken wildly out of context – you can see the full version of his statement to Fox News here.

“Games without sufficient quality of gameplay — games that include highly objectionable violent or sexual content — often pump up the level of this kind of content to gain media attention. This tactic typically fails, as can be seen in the poor sales performance of titles such as BMX XXX and Postal.”

It should probably be pointed out that another explanation of the poor sales of those games is that they were bloody awful. We’ve contacted M2 Research to find out if their quote was in context, and whether they believe the same is true of Bulletstorm as of games like BMX XXX and Postal.

I'm too morally corrupt to even know how to typelosmds

The story then twists off into the ongoing tussle regarding the attempts to make game ratings become legally enforceable in the US. A Ph.D. informs us that “9 year olds are playing games like Bulletstorm”, which is bloody unfair, as we’ve not even got review code yet. And then they explain that the ESRB’s description of the game is “too graphic” for them to print, before printing by far the juiciest bits. The only line they appear too blush-faced to include is the description of the swear words included, despite the delicate flowers at the ESRB having censored them themselves: “Language such as “f**k,” “sh*t,” “p*ssy,” and “c*ck” can be heard in dialogue.”

They throw up their hands in frustration at their being ignored by Epic, People Can Fly, and, er, Microsoft when they approached them for comment. And then, amazingly, they get specifically huffy because Warner Bros., who the story states have nothing to do with the game at all, told them they didn’t have a comment. Marvellous! Perhaps they should also have become indignant when McDonald’s and Exxon didn’t get back to them.

At the very end of the article there’s a quote from Hal Levy of the National Youth Rights Association defending the game, who gets the final word saying, “Plenty of emotionally unstable adults will play the game and they’ll be fine.” But that’s a blip at the end, preceded by the snooty statement, “those who don’t see a problem with Bulletstorm praise the game.”

So there you go. Bulletstorm causes rape. That’s your take-home message. Of course it was always a game that was going to engender some degree of outrage. It’s clearly trying to, in its gleefully naughty way, from its ultra-cartoon-violence to its provocative advertising campaign. But perhaps they weren’t expecting something quite as remarkable and outlandish as the Fox News response.

We will update you if any of the experts get in touch.

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239 Comments »

  1. Joe Maley says:

    ‘After observing that the game has Skill Shots with names like “gang bang” and “topless”, and literally nothing else.’

    You forgot that you can pull off a ‘facial’ for 50+ points.

    • Beartastic says:

      If nothing else, this furore has proven that a word can paint a thousand pictures.

      This game’s not really much different from many other shooters out there without the language and the text written all over the screen.

    • Joe Maley says:

      You obviously haven’t played the demo.

      It’s very clear and graphic what the words mean.

      For instance, I achieved my ‘gang-bang’ combo (+500 points!) by wrapping my grenade flail around mulitple people causing them to stick together. It was only after the explosion that the shockwave forced the far right enemy to thrust his manhood into the rectum of his closest enemy, and so on and so forth down the line of chained-enemies.

      If you thought that was bad, you should have seen me get the ‘double-penetration’ skillshot using both ends of my grenade flail.

    • kastanok says:

      Well it’s nice to see current developers working to reach out to the LGBT community in their games. >.>

  2. geldonyetich says:

    Sure, you say that now, but the next killing spree somebody goes on that utilizes gravity bolas and dynamite to fling their victims up in the air for bonus points will most assuredly vindicate the fine journalist-evangelists of Fox News.

  3. a.nye.123 says:

    Oh boy, I’ve been playing games for nearly 20 years. Is there somewhere I can hand myself in?

    • patricij says:

      Guantamano, maybe…or they’ll send some SpecOps our way to put us out of misery just like they want to send after Assange…*
      ——
      *I think it was on one of the Fox channels as well

    • Jacques says:

      SpecOps? You must be joking.

      I’ve been playing FPS games for a decade, I’m a hardened, trained killer by now.

      Pffft. SpecOps.

    • Ian says:

      Oh lord, but I’ve never raped anybody… am I just a ticking timebomb waiting to go off? :(

    • Xercies says:

      Yes you are! And what you must do is go towards the nearest church and cleanse yourself of your sin, then you won’t be able to rape anyone.

    • Mr_Initials says:

      @Xercies Just like the Pope

  4. Heliocentric says:

    I love bullet storm for causing this drama, but for no other reason. Its kinda meh looking.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      I actually read in the paper that police in Britain are trying to get powers to seize ‘troublemakers’ possessions such as I quote; “iPods, Stereos, and other ‘Bling’ Items” hmm, what the fuck is this world coming to?

      P.S: I don’t know how true it is, I am living in Australia atm, and we are all criminals down here anyway, selected by Britain’s best judges :3

    • steviesteveo says:

      That’s a totally different thing to this post. What’s that got to do with Bulletstorm or Fox News or anything?

      The idea behind that is that people are trying to find some sort of deterrent for criminal activity and they’ve suggested “taking your stuff”. It’s an extension to the rules that let you take the proceeds of crime or the tools of crime.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      I know, but, I am just getting so sick of these rules, there are too many, and I’m always classed as a crim, coz I have a shaved head, and wear hoodies…

    • jon_hill987 says:

      @Corrupt_Tiki: There is an easy solution to that you know…

    • baconismidog says:

      I was on the fence about buying this before I read this silliness; It’s a sure-buy for me now.

  5. CoyoteTheClever says:

    I’m sorry to say, but I doubt you Brits have anything on us Americans as far as yellow journalism goes ;). This may seem remarkable, but for Fox, it is just another day.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      He’s right. Fox routinely “invents” news of all sorts with this kind of craptastic journalism, then will often go on to invent more news based on people’s reaction to their first invention, hoping that by feeding the cycle enough, it gains legitimacy.

    • hjd_uk says:

      FoxNews is like the concentrated crystallised vapour that wafts off the incredulous turd that is the DailyMail.

  6. Brumisator says:

    It’s all Obama’s fault!

  7. Lujo says:

    In other news, overexposure to Fox can and will cause stupidity.

  8. patricij says:

    Can someone ask Bill Maher what he thinks of it? I think that could be one hell of an answer!

    Also: what a shame…

  9. Daniel Klein says:

    At first I thought this was going to be more of the “casually joking about rape contributes to a rape culture” nonsense that I was exposed to when reading some of the Dickwolves controversy, which I guess would have made sense if the announcer made casual references to you, I don’t know, raping your enemies (“GOD-LIKE! FACE-RAPE! UN-STOP-ABLE!”) But this? Wow. This reads like the attempt of a very slow journalist to imitate a certain kind of outrage story and totally getting it wrong.

  10. Pardoz says:

    Will Bulletstorm your children? Probably not. Fox news and/or its regular viewership? Congresswoman Giffords would probably argue “they’ll give it their best shot” (pun intended).

  11. Showtime says:

    I can see this being a decent marketing tool. How many people who were previously only mildly interested in Bulletstorm could Fox’s condemnation attract? (me, at least, so that’s one) To quote P.T. Barnum, all publicity is good publicity.

    • Clovis says:

      Yeah, I immediately thought, “Now I’m going to buy this game just to stick it to Fox News!” Then I was like, “Whoah!”

    • Triangulon says:

      Good point. I really fancy this now.

    • AJ says:

      OoooOoOOo!! And maybe the good doctor has her fingers in the pie too. I love a good conspiracy theory :)

  12. Snuffy the Evil says:

    But it’s true! After I finished playing Mass Effect for this first time, I had an insatiable urge to enter into a normal, healthy, well-developed relationship with a Na’vi cosplayer.

    Anyway, as much as I hate the idea of Bulletstorm right now, the article is, of course, a bunch of bunk. But then again, let’s just say I’ve never gone to Fox to get my filling of Sci/Tech news.

  13. Delusibeta says:

    Fox News is America’s Daily Mail. Actually, that’s an insult to the Daily Mail.

    • Navagon says:

      You can’t insult the Daily Mail. But you can OUTRAGE them.

  14. R32Hotel says:

    Hide yo’ wife, hide yo’ kids…

    How many times are “they” going to pull things like this out? Each violent and new video game is the worst one ever and apparently is furthering our downward spiral. Sigh…

    • Jamison Dance says:

      Well, to be fair, this actually is the truth. Mainstream AAA games have more graphic violence, more swears, and more sexual content now than before. Whether you think this is a good thing or not is another thing, but it is blatantly wrong to argue that this stuff isn’t becoming more common in games, and more explicit in content.

      **Cue someone pointing out Duke Nukem 3D**

      Yes, there are specific examples of games with explicit content back in the day, but I am talking about the overall trend, and the trend is that it is much more prevalent today.

    • axed says:

      i dont think the mainstream of gaming is more violent than in the past. i think the technology to perceive it as more violent is here, however. its just more “realistic” than before. there are more games now, and now there actually IS a mainstream, and thus a spotlight. there are fore more… “hippie” games now then i can remember as a kid. maybe it was just me though but it seemed every game was one where the objective was to murder/destroy, just set in a different time period/theme under the guise of historical accuracy or fantasy/sci-fi. i am 25 yrs old.

      i suppose the arcade days were a bit different… but not by much. pacman still devoured other equally sized creatures and blowing up asteroids is destructive on a massive scale.

      if i made a game about blowing up babies im sure it would hit the news… but it would just be a theme and in a saturated market, a marketing scheme. (note to self… learn programming and modelling, begin baby blowup game development)

    • Gonefornow says:

      @axed
      Too bad Dead Space 2 has baby shooting/stomping already covered.
      They didn’t make it into news with that though..
      !
      Now I understand why they pulled off the mom hates campaign.
      Clever basts.

    • axed says:

      @Gonefornow, i knew there must be a good reason to start playing that game. thank you for the tip

  15. patricij says:

    I accidentally Bulletstorm your wife, is that ok?
    You did what?
    Your wife.
    *shock grimace* NoooOOooo…

    /coat
    /slam

  16. Premium User Badge

    daphne says:

    I wonder if there’s someone, someone involved in the making of these news that realizes statements like “x causes rape”, do not, funnily enough, help the feminist cause at all? You know, those people who are most invested in the study and the mechanics of rape culture, as opposed to some moneymagnet TV psych figure?

    • bob_d says:

      This is Fox news we’re talking about; they have absolutely no interest in helping feminism in any way – quite the opposite.

    • Premium User Badge

      Colthor says:

      @daphne
      I don’t think furthering feminism is terribly high on Fox News’s list of priorities.

  17. Pie21 says:

    “Remi Sklar, the vice president of Public Relations at Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, which makes numerous video games (though is unconnected to Bulletstorm), offered the following statement: “We don’t have a comment for that story.””

    That is almost too good to be true.

  18. bob_d says:

    Ah, Fox continues to bring the crazy.
    “The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [] scenes in video games.”
    It’s statements like this that indicate the speaker is completely, hilariously ignorant of the subject on which they’re speaking. I’m not sure what was being implied – that there are sex scenes in American games? Rape scenes? Or are rapes somehow being caused by people re-enacting [shooting aliens with a rocket launcher] or [jumping on the heads of walking mushrooms]? Oh god, that’s it – Super Mario is a rape manual.

    • Snuffy the Evil says:

      “Hey baby, whaddya say we get out of here so you can jump on my Goomba?”

      “Sorry, sweetcheeks, but it looks like your princess is in another castle.”

    • CTRL-ALT-DESTROY says:

      What a bunch of vultures, preying on the misinformed and easily shocked. It’s just straight up lies. I’ve- MUST RAPE REPUBLICANS- actually played games like Postal (unfortunately) and to say crap like that is just ludicrous.

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      @Snuffy the Evil: Priceless.

  19. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    My my News International owned Fox News creates lots of controversy advertising about a game. News International owned Direct 2 Drive sells game! WHAT COULD BE GOING ON???

    • Premium User Badge

      Lacero says:

      Deus Ex 2′s coffee shop sub plot is the most insightful analysis of modern society since situationism.

  20. Jumwa says:

    “Games without sufficient quality of gameplay — games that include highly objectionable violent or sexual content — often pump up the level of this kind of content to gain media attention. This tactic typically fails, as can be seen in the poor sales performance of titles such as BMX XXX and Postal.”

    It sounds like the poor man WAS trying to say that poor quality games can’t be buoyed to good sales on pure sensationalism, sex and violence alone, but got taken out of context.

  21. Premium User Badge

    Arathain says:

    Sigh.

    First, I would like to say that I agree with John that Fox’s treatment of this is typical scaremongering bullshit. It’s the same sort of crap he’s been reporting on from the UK, complete with near-identical sounding phony ‘experts’. I do not, in any way, believe that Bulletstorm will cause anyone to do anything bad.

    However, I get uncomfortable whenever there’s a strong association between sex and violence, especially when it’s as clear as it seems to be in Bulletstorm, with tons of sexual language used to underscore the violence. In particular, using it in a humorous context. I really think juxtaposing sex, violence and humour is something that ought to make us uncomfortable.

    Look, in our culture in general, and, unfortunately, in our gaming sub-culture in particular, we have a problem with trivialising sexual violence. While it is really wonderful that the levels of sexual violence are on the decline, it’s still a far more common event than most of us realise. Women (and men, but mostly women) often suffer in shame and silence. Chances are, you know someone who’s been a victim well. Chances are, you probably don’t know it. This isn’t something that gets talked about a lot. Our culture, at best, shies away from talking and thinking too much about it, and at worst, trivialises it or engages in victim blaming, which happens all too often. It’s worst when we laugh.

    The best thing we can do, individually, to help is to try to do our part to change the culture, little bit by little bit, and one person at a time. Mostly, what this can mean is trying to call out something nasty for what it is when you see it, or to tell someone as tactfully as possible that their attitude could use some adjusting. I was interested in Bulletstorm, because it seemed to fill a niche in shooters that had gone unfilled for a while. But this crap means I won’t touch it with a big stick. Because it makes me uncomfortable. Because it’s not cool. It’s not the way we should be going.

    I’m not one to call ‘ban this sick filth!’ I don’t want more laws. I want creative types to be free to choose what they want to make and consumers free to consume what they like. What I want is for us, as awesome, compassionate human beings (many RPSers fall into these categories) to say “this isn’t cool. I’ll give it a miss, and just maybe, I’ll be willing to say why to a friend”.

    I know lots of you don’t agree, and think I’m getting worked up over nothing (it’s just a game! It’s just for fun.). It’s just my way of trying to change the culture, the air we breath from the time we learn to talk, into something that’s better, at least a tiny bit.

    If you dismiss everything else, just have a think about whether or not it’s OK to casually mix sex, violence and humour.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      A good point well made. The problem is that the majority of people likely to play or even be interested in this game are young(ish) men who’ve never really had to deal with sexual violence or even consider it affecting them so they can just dismiss it as a non-issue.

    • DarkFenix says:

      Mixing sex, violence and humour is fine since as you say, if you don’t like it you simply won’t buy it. What isn’t fine is the parents who would let an impressionable enough child near such a mix. I can’t claim to be in a position of experience, but I would no sooner let a child play something like Bulletstorm than I would let them go out to a nightclub or carry a knife around with them.

      There isn’t a problem with impressionable kids in society, there’s a problem with fucking idiot parents in society. Same as there always has been, same as there always will be, forever looking to point the blame anywhere but at themselves.

    • Towercap says:

      Call me a prude, but I won’t be buying Bulletstorm for the reasons Arathain mentioned.

    • John Walker says:

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be offended by the game. It’s content IS offensive, deliberately. I’m certainly not criticising anyone for being upset by what it contains.

      But, as I think the comments above appreciate, I am against making unevidenced claims of serious issues, and subverting the information about a game to make spurious claims. Which is the focus of my article.

    • Zwebbie says:

      Arathain: Wait, you were interested in Bulletstorm because it had humorous violence, but now you won’t touch it because it’s sexual humorous violence? Doesn’t that strike you as odd?

    • Armante says:

      I have zero interest in Bulletstorm, and certainly won’t be playing it. Arathain makes some great points; we can claim the game merely trivialises violence/sex, but at what point do we say a line has been crossed?
      Fox however scares the crap out of me, and I wish more people would watch John Stewart and CNN to get a dose of reality.
      And DarkFenix, you’ve hit it on the head – the game’s rated for R18 on whatever, so how come kids would play it? Oh, right. Ignorant, careless parents who blame anyone but themselves for what their children are exposed to.

    • Grape says:

      Gods, how I fucking despise prudes.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I think that statistically it’s actually really quite unlikely for you to know a rape victim.

    • Premium User Badge

      Arathain says:

      @Zwebbie: It is a little cognitively dissonant. But not so much as all that.

      I’m no good at explaining complicated stuff like this.

      It’s all a cultural thing, right? Oddly enough, I think we do culturally OK with violence, even, or perhaps especially as gamers. We all have a keen sense of death and violence being bad (with possible exceptions for controlled, legitimate exercises of military violence). When someone get badly beaten, or murdered we feel this as a bad thing. Leaving aside horrible bigots or sociopaths of various sorts, we all respond as we should, and our culture supports it. It’s not perfect, but it’s not bad. We’re also very good at separating fictional violence in our heads.

      Sexual violence is a whole different deal. Culturally, not all of us deal with it all that well. There’s a widespread problem with shame and denial. Victims of sexual violence are often made to feel that they are to blame, either by actual people blaming them, or just from previously absorbed cultural memes. The prevalence of the cultural trivialisation of sexual violence is very widespread and deep rooted; so much so that many, many people have a hard time even seeing that it exists. Once one starts to see it, however, it becomes impossible to unsee. And it really is everywhere. Gamers are particularly bad; the word ‘rape’ gets thrown round a lot, very casually.

      Besides, one of the reasons we are a lot more careful about sexual stuff in media of all sorts is that sexual images, language and content of all sorts has a unique property that portrayals of violence or violent language lack. It reaches past our rational brain and tweaks stuff. It affects our hormone levels, and our emotional responses. We can control our reactions to exposure to sexual stuff- indeed we get very good at it, because there sure is a heck of a lot of it. But it’s not something we can entirely prevent. It’s why people act so oddly around issues of controlling access to sexual material- we act because it’s very powerful, but those trying to act can’t help but be affected by it.

    • Kulantan says:

      @DrGonzo

      You might want to actually look at the statistics. More than a quarter of college age women report having experienced a rape or rape attempt since age 14 <- from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape#Statistics

    • Gabe McGrath says:

      I’m with Arathain.
      This game just makes me feel uneasy.
      If I want cartoon FPS violence, I’ll stick with Serious Sam HD.

      Hmm… could write more, but I don’t really want to add to its “buzz”.

    • Premium User Badge

      skalpadda says:

      Sex and violence are also different in that sexuality is (for most people) associated with closeness, vulnerability and deep emotions which makes sexual violence very unpleasant. I’m not saying Bulletstorm contains sexual violence because from what I’ve seen it certainly doesn’t, but I can understand that some would feel a bit uneasy about using names for sexual acts as names for artful ways of killing people. It doesn’t offend me personally, but it does seem incredibly dumb.

    • Consumatopia says:

      When I think of the combination of violence, sex, and humor, I think of Abu Gharib. Those monsters thought they were pretty funny. No, Bulletstorm won’t cause people to be raped or prisoners to be tortured. But there’s an idea in our culture that to really dominate someone, you don’t just ridicule them or physically hurt them, you have to sexually violate them. And if you name some of your death achievements after sex acts–that’s the sort of sickness you’re making light of.

    • jalf says:

      Mixing sex, violence and humour is fine since as you say, if you don’t like it you simply won’t buy it.

      Which seems to miss the point entirely.

      If, purely hypothetically speaking, mixing these three things together trivializes rape, then it might one day convince some asshole that what he’s doing is “ok”.

      Then his victim doesn’t really benefit much from the fact that “you don’t have to buy the game”.

      And it also seems naive to assume that, by definition, “children can’t handle these games, but adults can”. An age warning doesn’t really solve the problem with impressionable *adults* playing the game.

      I think @Arathain makes an important point. I’m not sure it’s the mix of sex/violence/humour specifically that is the problem, but in general, video games are *terrible* at trivializing a lot of things that shouldn’t be trivialized., including both violence in general, and sexualized violence in particular.
      Too many games, and Bulletstorm proudly takes the lead here, really champion a poisonous culture which I’m not comfortable with. (Which isn’t quite the same thing as saying “gamers become murderers and rapists omfg”, because we all know that isn’t true)

      But of course, that’s an entirely different discussion than the rubbish Fox came up with.

      I ran across a href=”http://sanitywatchers.tumblr.com/post/3090698963/cause-the-thing-is-you-and-the-guys-you-hang-out”>this little gem a few days ago, when researching the Penny Arcade dickwolves debacle, and I think it sums up why I’m uncomfortable with games like these:

      ‘Cause the thing is, you and the guys you hang out with may not really mean anything by it when you talk about crazy bitches and dumb sluts and heh-heh-I’d-hit-that and you just can’t reason with them and you can’t live with ‘em can’t shoot ‘em and she’s obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid and if they can’t stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen and if they can’t play by the rules they don’t belong here and if they can’t take a little teasing they should quit and heh heh they’re only good for fucking and cleaning and they’re not fit to be leaders and they’re too emotional to run a business and they just want to get their hands on our money and if they’d just stop overreacting and telling themselves they’re victims they’d realize they actually have all the power in this society and white men aren’t even allowed to do anything anymore and and and…

      I get that you don’t really mean that shit. I get that you’re just talking out your ass.

      But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates women–to the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.

      And that guy? Thought you were on his side.

      (emphasis mine)

      I guess that’s really what worries me. Yes, I get that the game designers are just immature pricks who *still* think it’s fun and cool to go “boobies! Hurhurhur”. And that doesn’t bother me. I don’t really care about their mental age, or whether they’ll ever grow up.

      But it bothers me that their seemingly casual attitude towards, well, many forms of offensive behavior, might be seen as acceptance, support or encouragement by others who have a different idea. I don’t like that it silently plays into the culture we’ve already got going (not as gamers, but as people *in general* of trivializing these things (what some would call a “rape culture”, but that might be a too narrow, and much too loaded, term).

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be offended by the game

      Hmm, I don’t think it’s about being offended by the game as such (I’m not), but rather just disliking the attitudes it tries to impart on the player, and the culture it is a part of.

      @Consumatopia: bingo.

    • Tacroy says:

      If, purely hypothetically speaking, mixing these three things together trivializes rape, then it might one day convince some asshole that what he’s doing is “ok”.

      Good thing you’re only speaking hypothetically, because if you were to, say, move to speaking practically (as you so sneakily do in the next sentence), there would be very little evidence to support your position.

    • Towercap says:

      I heart RPS so much right now.

    • -Spooky- says:

      *blabla* US / UK hate naked skins and sex .. (woohooo topless womans) *blabla* GER hate the extremly violence of this game (no ragdoll etc.) *blabla* More media around this game (FOX / daily mags n papers), will sell this game .. fo sure.

      And no one cares about the fuckin oil in the gulf of mexico right now .. THAT is a problem to write about – but no .. *sigh* Big mad world ;)

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Anyone getting all righteous and blaming parents for not obeying the age rating system really really should watch this documentary about how advertising works on kids:

    • DarkFenix says:

      jalf: Impressionable adults playing the game becomes an entirely new problem. The person is the problem more than the game and you’ll not stop them having such impressions given to them unless you ban all media. After all music, TV, movies; they all trivialise (or even glorify) these things with some regularity.

      ReV_VAdAUL: You should really look up the word “no”, it has quite a big effect on kids too. Marketing to kids only works if parents let it.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      In a world where millions are spent on advertising specifically to children and given companies only spend money on things that’ll make them more money I have to wonder if maybe, just maybe their advertising campaigns that pervade every aspect of our society and are based on the work of numerous psychologists might just work to undermine the power of no?

      Its touching you think the majority of average citizens in their role as parents can overcome such substantial actions against them so easily but I’m sad to say maybe you’re being a little naive?

    • Zwebbie says:

      @Arathain: I’m not sure how that relates exactly to Bulletstorm, though. In a game that encourages you to and rewards you for shooting people in the face, the use of the word “facial” with it is the least offensive thing to me. I haven’t seen the rape suggestions that the game is supposed to have; but I find its glorification of violence offensive enough.

    • DarkFenix says:

      Perhaps ReV, perhaps. I’m not a parent and don’t know well any parents of kids of the right age to judge based on anything but my own parents. Christ, when they said no (and they said no a lot) it bloody well meant no. No amount of persuasion or whining would get a different answer from them.

      You’ve reminded me to stick to what I usually live by. “People are idiots”. So you’re probably quite right, but it doesn’t make the parents any less to blame; it just makes them bad parents.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      I would argue, to a degree at least, that this game does not mix sex and violence.

      It does mix porn and over the top violence however, but that’s a different matter. I don’t know about you lot but facials, DP and what not are not really common things in my sex life.

      I don’t frequently see rocket launchers used in the pub-fights I sometimes see when out and about.

      Both porn and rocket launchers are fictional and I think that is an important point to make. Had the game been about hitting your spouse or sexually assaulting people I would be opposed to it. It’s not about that. This game depicts violence about as realistic as porn depicts sex. At least I hope porn is unrealistic. Otherwise I’ve failed at sex quite a lot.

      From what I understand it takes completely unrealistic violence and mixes it with terminology most common in porn. I think there is an aesthetic point in that.

    • torchedEARTH says:

      Kids certainly have pester power, but I have the money and it’s my house and I will not flinch at making my kids upset if that’s what it takes to make them have a better understanding that I’m not made of money and no means no. They can learn some respect.

      The only thing I can see Bullet Storm raping is my wallet. I’ve played the demo and did not like it. Pretty, but bland.

  22. rocketman71 says:

    Hey, it’s Fox, what did you guys expect?.

    And look at the web page of that Carole. OMFG!, Now THAT has to be unhealthy for everybody.

    CliffyB must be ecstatic, though.

  23. Kakrafoon says:

    Very entertaining. Still, I don’t know about Bulletstorm. If there is genuine gameplay, it hides it pretty well behind all those kill-kombos. Well, there’ll always be a Steam sale at some point.

  24. Pijama says:

    Honestly, with that attitude, even folks here at RPS will probably get motivated to play this out of spite.

    Which is excellent anyway, hehe

  25. omicron1 says:

    Good grief.
    Fox, please stop. You make me want to drive up there and demand you hire (and make use of) a properly-informed videogame consultant… and/or box the ears of whomever came up with this one. (Next headline: Videogame violence complaints cause violence.)

  26. vash47 says:

    Bulletstorm has one of the, if not the best gameplay that I’ve seen in the past years. It’s ups is not the over the top violence or the innuendos. It’s about having fun, hence the slogan; “Putting the fun back in gun”

    With that said, I raped 15 schoolgirls after playing this game.

  27. Vinraith says:

    Well crap, now i guess I have to buy it. Anything to piss off/panic Faux News.

  28. mkultra says:

    I’m just glad Bulletstorm is going to be the last game I play before I go to prison.

  29. Voxel_Music_Man says:

    I live in New Zealand, and this reminds me of back when Half-life one came out and our newspapers slammed it as a violent game where you ‘got points for killing scientists.’ … WTF!? Like time I checked, you WERE a scientist, and saving the other scientists often lead to getting goodies, etc.

    Grr! Arg!

    • Sarlix says:

      Unless they were talking about Half-life Opposing force – in which case you do get to kill scientists. Well zombie ones anyway.

      On a side note, do you think zombie scientists would be any smarter than regular zombies?

    • Shadram says:

      No, but they are smarter than people who believe what they read/see on Fox News.

  30. Unaco says:

    Is it wrong that I’m gleefully awaiting the Daily Mail article on this game, and the always reliable comments section?

    • Navagon says:

      They’ll probably just make up some shit about murdering giraffes and pregnant women again and call it a night.

    • Primar says:

      Don’t forget – video games both cause and prevent cancer, simultaneously.

  31. Towercap says:

    Fox News is secretly a front for a video games marketing company.

    But mostly just douchebags.

    • Oneironaut says:

      No One Lives Forever
      Published by Sierra Entertainment and Fox Interactive.

  32. Navagon says:

    I just noticed that I don’t have any kids. Did… did Bulletstorm skillshoot ma kids? :(

  33. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    The cynic in me says that Bulletstorm’s PR crew prompted this article, to generate more publicity for themselves.

    • Premium User Badge

      mpk says:

      The cynic in me would high five the cynic in you except he’s cynical about perpetuating internet memes in an attempt to look cool.

  34. Juiceman says:

    I always laugh at the sheep calling others sheep when articles like this come out. Why? Because the majority of people didn’t read the original article and don’t know that Fox News didn’t claim anything for which you have accused them of. They actually reported the issue with a a fair amount equality amongst the two major opinions on the subject. The people who claim that the game promotes rape and violence are psychologists they interviewed, not Fox News. By the same logic, you could read further down in the article and claim that Fox News thinks Bulletstorm promotes innovative thinking and that parents and adults should be responsible for making game purchases.
    It is true that Fox News reports on video game violence more often than other news outlets, but does that make them anti video games? From everything I’ve read, they always present both sides of the argument fairly well. Maybe John Walker thinks any kind of discussion is the beginnings of persecution.
    Bulletstorm may or may not be the worst game ever, that’s always one’s personal opinion. Personally, I tend to agree with an article that was linked to a few days ago. Basically it said video games are starting to experience titles that are simple tasteless, and really bring nothing to the table except for just moronic levels of over the top violence. Whether that makes it a bad game is always subjective. I personally find movies like Saw 1-6 to be pretty boring and not my cup of tea and I imagine Bulletstorm will be much the same way.

    • Small Ivory Knight says:

      I did read the article, and before I saw the counterpoint here on RPS, Let me just say:

      nope.avi

      John has the right of it, the fox news article is ridiculous, with terrible out of context quotes and a writing style that I would expect from a high school newspaper. It’s just more preaching to the choir. Do you honestly believe anyone who reads fox news would have gone out and bought Bulletstorm anyway?

    • John Walker says:

      That simply isn’t the case, Juiceman.

      The headline, to start with, makes their agenda extremely clear. But the editorialising in the piece doesn’t leave room for your claims. Passages like:

      “But that’s not the worst part.

      The in-game awards system, called Skill Shots, ties the ugly, graphic violence into explicit sex acts: “topless” means cutting a player in half, while a “gang bang” means killing multiple enemies. And with kids as young as 9 playing such games, the experts FoxNews.com spoke with were nearly universally worried that video game violence may be reaching a fever pitch.”

      do not leave room for the ambiguity they claim. It’s either extremely naive or deliberately facetious to suggest that the piece is balanced, or simply led by the quotes they received. Even the (bizarre) caption reads,

      “An artist’s recreation of a scene from controversial video game Bulletstorm, which takes violence, vulgar language and sexual innuendos to a new level.”

      So please, none of this pretending I’m twisting the facts. I’ve added in a section acknowledging their closing quote. It clearly doesn’t change the overwhelming tone of the article.

      As for your suggestion that I am not tolerant of the discussion, that’s wholly incorrect, as my regular articles on the subject should demonstrate. I have regularly called for proper scrutiny of the issues of game violence and problematic use, and so often said that if such things are a serious risk for gamers, then I want to know about that, and let other gamers know too.

      You can see more of my discussion of this subject here and here.

    • Juiceman says:

      How ironic you bring up preaching to the choir when RPS is doing the exact same thing. I don’t know what is bigger preaching when it comes to the gaming community, anti DRM mantra or Fox News hates video games rhetoric. At least Fox News had counterpoints to the fear monger side of the argument. Counter points which stated their opinions pretty plainly from what I could see. As for out of context quotes I’m not sure what you are speaking to, maybe you could be more specific. And the writing style critique really brings nothing to the discussion and is just nit picking to distract from my over all point.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Funnily enough, I think a lot of people who read Fox News will buy the game, even more now they have run this story on it.

    • Juiceman says:

      Yes, John Walker, I read that section as well. But, in my opinion, their purpose for describing the various kill methods was more of a warning aimed at parents, not the promotion of “video games cause violence in youth” agenda. You claim that you are in favor of people making informed decisions when it comes to video games, especially for the parents of underage children. Yet you lambaste a news agency for trying to inform people. Now what are we to take away from that?

    • John Walker says:

      What we are to take away is that you’re a very silly person. But good try.

    • mandrill says:

      @juiceman: Fox news is entertainment dressed up as journalism. IT IS NOT JOURNALISM. The fictions it peddles are made all the worse by the fact that they have a grain of truth at their center (this is speaking generally rather than to the article in question) Any ‘news organisation’ that takes human suffering and looks for ways to spin it into ratings and viewer numbers (and they’re all guilty to some degree, Fox simply more blatantly than the rest) is not worth giving the time of day to.

      This is once again a demonstration of how bad the MSM are when it comes to covering games, no research, no balance (merely the illusion of it) and a wilful attempt to keep their viewers and readers completely ignorant of any facts whatsoever. The scary thing is not that people write this dross, but that other people swallow every shit-covered word of it and call it chocolate.

    • Juiceman says:

      Oh I’m sorry John Walker, I thought we were having a legitimate discussion. But I can see you’d rather deflect and insult instead of backing up your opinion. My bad.

    • Orvidos says:

      I can’t tell if you’re a troll, or the son of a silly person, Juiceman. This saddens me.

      That said, while this is hilariously pathetic in a way only FOX News can produce, it’s still not enough to make Bulletstorm interesting.

      Though I could go for some murder, right about now. And I do have those left over pork ribs. . .

    • Juiceman says:

      @mandrill

      It is true that almost all news organisation are just commentators and not journalists, they merely differ based on their particular slant. Fox News is mostly conservative and MSNBC mainly liberal, etc. But unless Bulletstorm has some grand message about the human condition or some other cause du jour as the focus of their game, I don’t really see how Fox News painted an inaccurate picture of the game being simply tasteless. Of course it isn’t fair to say if they do or do not have a legitimate message, other than ridiculous violence, unless you play the full game. But unless Epic releases more information, all you can really gleam from the demo was over the top violence and sex jokes. Which is fine if that is your thing.

    • Juiceman says:

      @Orvidos

      I would love to discuss why you think I’m silly if you would produce an argument of your own.

    • Muzman says:

      Juiceman, the point you don’t seem to get is that they aren’t representing ‘both sides’ of the issue, as you suggest, at all. Nor are they being balanced in the least. They’re providing a platform for one extreme outlier view and then covering themselves with the question mark in the title and a couple of weak and indirect counter points and digressions.
      This is the basic methodology of sensationalist journalism Frame the issue as extreme as possible and then wash your hands of it. It’s not as well known as its fire and brimstone slinging cousin with huge headlines and loads of invective, but it’s arguably more insidious. If they were at all honest they would interrogate the claims made by the people whose quotes they got rather than do this pathetic, disingenuous “Hey, we’re just asking questions. Don’t shoot the messenger.” act you seem happy to defend.
      But Carole Lieberman’s a celebrity psychaitrist to Hollywood’s finest. They probably owe her a couple of quotes since her PR people bought their ad people lunch that one time.

    • Orvidos says:

      Juiceman, I can only assume from your bullheaded defense of FOX News that you’ve either not been paying attention in the last few years, or you’re a troll.

      From people like Jack Thompson having a spot on FOX whenever he felt the need to rile the populace, to them going to these ‘experts’ for sources, there are two options. Either they hire and publish any idiot who walks in with a journalism degree, or they’re doing this intentionally. Your defense of “it’s not FOX, it’s the experts they’re talking to” is foolish. FOX doesn’t draft people off the street and say “Your opinion on this, as you’re now an expert at it” They have to go to these people and ask for comments. The cynic in me says they’re looking for people who have the credentials, but not the actual knowledge.

      They’re not remotely balanced in this sort of issue, they -are- responsible for what they publish, who they let write for them and the sources they use, and nine times out of ten, all of those things are twisted to cause a culture of fear and skepticism, to paraphrase the great Bobby Kotick.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Children, that is how you identify a troll or someone who is not very bright (and for most intents and purposes, certainly ours here, these are the same).

      1: Did they make broad, overgeneralizations or specifically wrong points?
      2: When you used logic, did they do the equivalent of plugging their ears and going NYAH NYAH NYAH I CAN’T HEAR YOOOU
      3: If they tested positive for the previous two things, they are most likely a troll or a zealot. Either is bad, do not feed them. Just prove them completely and shamefully wrong, then move on.
      4: If you hate lists, do not read this list.
      5: I hear you can ward away trolls by having everyone wear top hats.

    • Juiceman says:

      @Muzman

      It is certainly true they had a meatier argument from those who thinks video games can cause harm to kids, and that argument was only backed up by the statements of the various doctors they interviewed. Despite that I’m less inclined to believe the nefarious journalism you say has taken place here.
      1. It’s an online, one page piece, not some in depth report where they would certainly learn every in and out of the various points of view. It’s shoddy journalism for sure, but considering online stories like this are put together faster than a McDonald’s hamburger, I’d say it’s par for the course. I too would like to know what research these doctors have done to reach their conclusions, but, as you pointed out, the article doesn’t tell us.
      2. The counter points from Hal Halpin are pretty cut and paste and not nearly as noteworthy as their rivals, I will give you that. But considering Epic refused to comment, is it really fair to say that the pro video game community was inadequately represented when the most relevant party (Epic) refused to represent themselves? If anything you should be mad at Epic’s PR department for not quashing Carol Lieberman. Instead they simply said nothing and let her facts go unopposed.

      I think the problem is that the pro video game community doesn’t have someone speak for them as vocally as someone like Jack Thompson or this Carol Lieberman. So when Fox news does a piece on violence in video games we see someone like Lieberman make very strong arguments and then we have a comparatively weak response from people like Hal Haprin, or none at all in the case of Epic Games. This of course translates into people claiming bias on the part of Fox News by those who disagree with the video games promote violence agenda.

    • Towercap says:

      FOX News . . . inform people? I desperately want to see irony in this statement. http://bit.ly/eLdsjF

    • Juiceman says:

      @Orvidos

      Considering Jack Thompson is probably the most vocal person in the Anti Violence in Video Games movement I’d say using him as a regular go to on the subject is not that out of the ordinary. Would you complain if they interviewed Al Gore every time they did a piece on Global Warming? I think not. Whether he’s an expert or not is certainly up for debate. I’d say he’s very knowledgeable, but not an expert. Much like Al Gore in fact. In the case of Carol Lieberman, I simply do not know. I will have to take her PHD as an indication she is at least qualified to give an opinion. But if you would like to poke holes in her credentials I’m all ears.

      There is actually an excellent interview Game Spy did with Jack Thompson from a while back. It changed my opinion of him quite a lot. Whether you believe everything he says is up to you, but an interesting read none the less. http://www.gamespy.com/articles/112/1121508p1.html

    • Juiceman says:

      @Towercap
      What’s more ironic is that you quoted Media Matters. But, for the sake of argument I’ll pretend they aren’t just as biased as you claim fox news is. The bottom line is you can find instances of biased journalism in every news organization. So you simply pointing to one example and saying “SEE SEE!” means nothing. If you like I can do the same for the news outlet of your choice.

    • vagabond says:

      Actually Juiceman, Towercap linked to a page detailing the 36 biggest examples in the past year, that based on the links within appears to consist of over 100 separate instances of misleading reporting, so he’s hardly “pointing to one example”.

      John has already pointed out the language used in the article that makes it abundantly clear to everyone but you that Fox has taken a side in the debate.

      Do you have a response that doesn’t amount to “That’s not the way I see it!”, since unless someone else chimes in to say they agree with you, that’s really only a compelling argument that you’re either an idiot or a troll.

      Also, unless John cares to correct me, I cannot image it took him more than 15 minutes of what must have been the most grueling fact-checking ever done by man to determine that instances of rape have been going down for some time now and that the quoted Dr is simply lying to further her agenda.

      You say this level of shoddy journalism is par for the course on the internet and you seem fine with that. In my opinion, if you can’t even do that basic level of fact checking, you shouldn’t be publishing the article in the first place.

      You laud them for informing parents about the existence of this M rated game, but is that even the rating it received? I don’t know. I clearly cannot trust any of the “facts” published on any story on their website to be true, since they don’t care enough to actually check any of them.

    • Premium User Badge

      Big Murray says:

      It is true that Fox News reports on video game violence more often than other news outlets, but does that make them anti video games? From everything I’ve read, they always present both sides of the argument fairly well. Maybe John Walker thinks any kind of discussion is the beginnings of persecution.

      It’s 6am, so I’m going to put this as politely as my sleep-deprived mind can. You are either blind, dyslexic, or a blind dyslexic.

      Presenting both sides of the argument means presenting both sides of the argument correctly, factually. Stating numerous unsubstantiated comments from “experts” such as “rape cases are rising because of video games” and “Bulletstorm has the potential to seriously harm people”, and then having a paragraph or two of the other side (immediately followed, I might add, by a rebuttal), is not balanced. It’s not even reporting; reporting means having some kind of facts to report. Every time Fox has a discussion on the topic of video-game violence, they flood the arena with anti-videogame rhetoric which has no basis in actual fact, allowing only a small amount of airtime for videogame activists to defend themselves.

      Exhibit A:
      http://www.gametrailers.com/user-movie/fox-news-on-mass-effect-sex/163925

    • Lilliput King says:

      Quoting some ludicrous quack with no analysis or argument is utterly irresponsible and fucking trivializes an argument that deserves serious consideration. You can’t just quote someone, wash your hands of it and call it respectable journalism. That’s especially true when the subject is as serious as sexual violence and the quotee is the author of “Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live with Them and When to Leave Them” (wish I was making this up).

    • golden_worm says:

      Those who don’t see a problem with Fox News praise the channel.

    • Dozer says:

      Juiceman == News International employee?

      This just in: Fox News causes rape.

    • gulag says:

      Did someone order a bag of troll-feed?

    • Kadayi says:

      @Juiceman

      Game is R18 dude. All this talk by Fox about ‘think about the kids’ is utter baloney. If it ends up in a kids hands whose responsible? The parents are.

      I’d say guns sold to Civilians are a bigger danger than games, but perhaps I’m just being a radical.

  35. Muzman says:

    You know if some gentle academic wrote about concerns with the tone of the game normalising sexual violence through language and maybe brought up ‘rape culture’ (ala Dickwolves business), the Fox boys and girls would be jumping up and down to call her a pinhead feminazi marxist out to destroy free speech and America through political correctness.

  36. DrugCrazed says:

    One of the things I most look forward to is a law being passed that states “No newspaper may quote a scientist or study without a consultation by the scientist in question and a board of 10 scientific minds”.

    The penatly shall be the newspaper in general being shut down for 2 days.

  37. John P says:

    I loathe Fox News, and this story is rubbish. But Bulletstorm is equally rubbish.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game with so much sexual violence. Just because there’s no sex shown doesn’t mean it’s not there. This game absolutely does associate violence with sex. The skill shots are things like gang bang, facial, rear entry, deep penetration, and you achieve these terms while killing people. They’re pornographic terms, used in the worst of mainstream porn.

    Now I’m not one to condemn pornography. The more tasteful is fine. But a lot of mainstream porn does encourage a negative, aggressive and humiliating sexual culture. Things like facials, for instance, which is one of the skill shots in this game. Bulletstorm is now playing its part in perpetuating this culture.

    The worst thing about it is how Bulletstorm is able to do this because it doesn’t actually show nudity or sex. That allows it to get around the censors (even here in Australia, strict as the censors are), even though the level of sexual violence is WAY beyond GTA3′s sex with a prostitute and her subsequent murder (which got that game into trouble in Australia).

    Bulletstorm is able to insinuate its way onto screens, and encourages teenaged boys to treat their girlfriends badly, fuck her aggressively, and then cum on her face. That’s what this game is all about. It’s about acting out aggressive sexual fantasies. That’s the entirely unsubtle subtext. It, like most mainstream porn, contributes to the attitude that that behaviour is perfectly fine.

    Before anyone just dismisses me as a prude or a feminist or some shit*, think again. I generally defend games against accusations like this, but the creation of a sexual culture is a very serious thing, not something to be taken lightly. I am not at all comfortable with 15 year old boys playing this game and getting his kicks from performing ‘facials’ on enemies he is killing. I think that’s deeply disturbing. You know what’s more disturbing? Seeing young female gamers say this game looks like great fun and they can’t wait to play it.

    So yes, the Fox News story is crap. But there is an issue that needs to be addressed here.

    I’ve been very disappointed with how few negative reactions there have been to this game, especially from female game journalists. Perhaps they are afraid of the backlash against them if they complained, and I can’t blame them. But game journalists (the ones who aren’t juvenile trash themselves, anyway) should really be questioning Bulletstorm, not mindlessly defending it. Crap like the Fox News story shouldn’t be seen as an attack on the gaming medium, but an attack on one puerile, tasteless game. And beneath the sensationalism is an issue worth discussing.

    Edit:
    *As Ryn Taylor notes below, my use of ‘some shit’ here is referring to potential dismissive comments. Given the content of my post, it’s unfair to suggest I’m equating feminism with ‘shit’.

    Also note that this post is a general criticism of Bulletstorm, and is not a direct response to RPS or this article. As I said above more than once, I agree the Fox News article is rubbish.

    Finally, yes, I have played the console demo, so my comments are not based solely off speculation and screenshots. But I would argue that this kind of criticism is entirely reasonable even without playing the game, because we’re discussing factual information (the skill shots). Richard Clark at Gamasutra has also raised similar concerns about this game.

    • DrugCrazed says:

      I’d argue that he’s defending video games from shoddy misconceptions.

    • Premium User Badge

      Colthor says:

      @John P
      Don’t worry, I won’t accuse you of being a feminist.

    • John Walker says:

      Well, you should first be aware that the game isn’t out yet, which may explain why there hasn’t been more negative commentary. It would also suggest that you haven’t played it either, beyond possibly the console demo, which would call into question your absolute statements.

      Perhaps when I play the game I’ll be offended by its content. I don’t know yet. Which is rather the point.

      However, in response to the points you make here, I’m not sure I can yet see the direct correlation between the violence in the game, and the sex acts you describe. Simply by punning on the names of sex acts does not, to my understanding, mean that one depicts the other, let alone condones or encourages them. When I shoot a man in the face in a game, I very rarely equate that to forcibly ejaculating in a woman’s face. Simply because this game says “facial” when I shoot a mercenary in the face with a cannonball (the requirements for that skill shot), I can’t really imagine my brain getting any closer to associating the two. Any more than I can imagine I’d be thinking about having a facepack and two slices of cucumber put on my face.

      I’m not saying that you’re wrong – but I don’t yet understand how you could be right.

      By the way, you don’t endear me to your argument by associating feminism with “some shit”.

    • DarkFenix says:

      Yeah, this kind of language is used in the mainstream porn industry. Y’know where else you’ll hear it all the time? In the average teenager-filled school playground. That and worse.

      I’m with John Walker in that I really can’t see how you’re drawing a very direct link between violent sexual acts and Bulletstorm. It’s a bunch of puns to make the skillshot names amusing, albeit in a massively juvenile way. I’d seriously like to know your logic in that comparison though.

    • Wolf Hongo says:

      “By the way, you don’t endear me to your argument by associating feminism with ‘some shit’.”

      You’ve just won an eternity’s worth of hugs, John Walker! Please come to the area in front of my stomach to claim your prize.

    • Orvidos says:

      Wolf, do you mind if I steal the hell out of that? The stomach bit.

    • Ryn Taylor says:

      First of all, I pretty much agree with the majority of the opinions posted. Bulletstorm should be allowed to be what it wants. If people don’t want to play it, or they don’t want their children playing it, they can do that.

      Secondly, I want to address John P’s post and the replies to it somewhat. I think as gamers, we tend to rush to the defense of games without really considering if we should be. It’s easy to defend exaggerations. Surely saying that a video game could cause rape it as the least a bit drastic.

      But while everyone’s talking about the out-of-game implications, no one ever looks at the in-game effects. No one really addresses the sexual harrassment in games (this is going off my own experience here, please someone tell me if you have seen people talk about this).

      1 in 4 college women have survived a rape or attempted rape in the U.S. More have survived sexual assault. Few male players stop to think about this while spouting out sexual insults in chat. Do these male players have any idea how realistically helpless and demeaned something like teabagging can make a recently assaulted woman feel?

      I could go on, but my point is that while Fox is an easy target, not all who speak out against a game should be so easily dismissed.

      Does a game like Bulletstorm reinforce negative sexual culture? I’m sure it doesn’t create it, and at least it’s one of many, many outlets that young, impressionable gamers face. I don’t believe it needs to be censored. For myself, I simply won’t buy it. But maybe it should be allowed to be talked about outside of the black and white “Games are horrible violence inducing crap” and “No! Defend all games!” camps.

      Oh, and I believe “some shit,” grammatically speaking, refers back to the implied automatic dismissal, not feminism.

    • vagabond says:

      I played Counterstrike back in the day, when it was one of the only games of its kind. I gave up on it because the majority of players on-line whenever I had time to play it (or at least the vocal minority) were 13 year olds, and I got sick of the inane/offensive drivel they would spout on chat.

      Unless you are about to tell me that time travel will be invented shortly after Bulletstorm is released and that the players it warps emotionally are all going to go back in time and grief my younger self playing CS, I’m left with the fact that, what; almost ten years ago now, teenagers were already telling me “j00 just got raped fag!” and the feeling that me getting shot in the ass and the words “fire in the hole” flashing up on the screen isn’t going to cause the FPS multiplayer landscape to spiral into any more of a pit of hate filled invectives than it already is.

      If someone could show me some evidence that people’s online behaviour has improved since then, and that this is going to be a massive set back to that improvement, I might care. But at this stage I’m not buying it.

    • jalf says:

      Yeah, this kind of language is used in the mainstream porn industry. Y’know where else you’ll hear it all the time? In the average teenager-filled school playground. That and worse.

      And? I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell don’t want people to spend the rest of their lives treating people the way they do on a school playground. I don’t think “it happens on the playground too” has *ever* been an excuse for bad behavior. Given the number of nerds on this site, I think quite a lot of people here know just how badly it is possible to be treated on a school playground. ;)

      I don’t think the game is “about acting out aggressive sexual fantasies” though. That’s too simple, and as Walker said, it is hard to make the mental connection between any kind of sex, and shooting someone in the face with a cannon.

      But it absolutely *is* about making acts of humiliating or dominating others, through violence or through sexualized terms, seem “cool”.

      Like @Ryn says just above, isn’t there some middle ground between “it’s a game, as gamers we must defend it”, and “this game will make you a rapist”?

      The question isn’t so much what the game *on its own* does or means or implies, but whether it reinforces *existing* negative aspects of our culture, and whether we are ok with that.

      Honestly, when taken in isolation, the game is utterly harmless, and it would be ridiculous to worry about it. But it fits into a pattern we see throughout our culture, where, for example, it *is* ok to trivialize sexual violence. As @DarkFenix pointed out, we even learn that on the school playground. It’s not new, it’s not unique to Bulletstorm, and people would be just as immersed in those aspects of our culture even without Bulletstorm. But still, do we want to *further* this culture? Bulletstorm might just be one small step among many, but it’s still a step in the wrong direction.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Some women very much like being fucked aggressively and then having a man cum on their face.

      Just as an FYI.

    • matty_gibbon says:

      @John P

      We are wandering off-topic here slightly. The article wasn’t making any comment on the game itself, just the terrible reporting of Fox News. Making statements backed up by “experts” with an agenda, without doing basic fact checking is irresponsible at best.

      But it is true that such “news” items like this prevent genuine concerns from being expressed, drowned out as they are by hyperbole and scaremongering. So, I’m glad you brought some genuine concerns about the game to the fore.

      Whereas I don’t believe that having this language in the game alongside acts of violence directly draws a connection between said sex acts and violence, I don’t entirely disagree with what you’re saying.

      I think it’s the ubiquity of the words themselves that may cause a problem. It doesn’t encourage the acts it describes, but it may make them more acceptable. Of course, there is no way to back this up with data as a study like that would be incredibly difficult. You know when people use the word gay to describe something in a negative way? It could be argued that once that becomes ubiquitous it contributes to making flippant derogatory statements about homosexuals okay.

      Of course, it should also be noted that none of the acts described are necessarily bad amongst consenting adults (quite the opposite, depending on tastes :-) ). Are there actually any casual references to rape, or acts of actual sexual violence in the point-scoring? That I would have a severe problem with.

      The problem with the phrases mentioned is their connotations with the porn industry, as you mentioned, and all the negative baggage that comes with that. It’s an interesting tangle of associations and it’s almost impossible to predict what effect such associations may have. Words don’t exist in a vacuum and I think it’s appropriate and helpful to discuss their use.

    • DarkFenix says:

      jalf: I’m not so much of the “gamers should defend games” idea as much as “everything should be defended from bigots.” It’s the same blame-game that’s been happening for decades. All forms of entertainment media feature sexual content, violent content, mixes of the two and more besides. All in turn have been blamed for turning kids into murderers or rapists. All because people would much sooner hysterically point at the convenient scapegoat rather than look closer to home.

      I personally don’t see the whole glorification of sex, violence or both from games, but then I’ve always drawn the boundary between fantasy and reality more starkly than most. I think if parents make damn sure their kids know the difference between right and wrong as well as fantasy and reality, the problem goes away on its own. Of course, it’ll never happen. The scapegoat will change, but the problem will go unsolved.

    • Gonefornow says:

      I don’t think John P intended to associate feminism and prudism with “Some shit”. He associated labels like feminist or prude as some shit.
      Why? Because being labeled in a conversation is the worst that can happen to you. After that some people think that you only support the cause of the particular party/ideal.
      Try it out. Toss an idea “money is (mostly) bad” in a conversation and, presto, someone will probably call you out as a communist.

  38. Emperor_Jimmu says:

    The right wing media do produce some very creative bullshit.

  39. EC- says:

    “We will update you if any of the experts get in touch.”

    Forgive me if I don’t hold my breath.

    Epic will really gain my respect if they put some of these quotes on the box.

  40. Fox89 says:

    I love the fact that they say: “the experts FoxNews.com spoke with were nearly universally worried that video game violence may be reaching a fever pitch”.

    Well, they spoke to TWO ‘experts’, and ‘nearly universally’ suggests at least ONE of those two experts agreed with that statement.

    It’s a disgraceful article sure, but its FOX News. Is anyone still taking them seriously at this point?

  41. Premium User Badge

    Colthor says:

    John, how can you possibly know Bulletstorm won’t murder children when, by your own admission, you don’t even have review code yet?

  42. dr.castle says:

    Most Americans know not to pay any attention to a Fox News story, ever. This is run-of-the mill reporting from them. You could find something to get equally in a huff about every day if you tried. They’re mainly good for a laugh.

    • mandrill says:

      ‘Most Americans?’ you’ve asked them have you?

      If we’re going to make sweeping generalisations I could just as easily say that ‘Most Americans’ drive pickups wear mullet hairstyles and believe that Elvis is alive and well and working in a burger bar in Des Moines.

      I suspect your ‘Most Americans’ are professionals who have college educations, not the ‘Most Americans’ who don’t even finish high-school, work minimum wage jobs and can barely read let alone discern facts from opinion.

      Fox News is never good for a laugh, because the lies they tell are believed by millions without question, the harm they are doing by claiming to be ‘journalists’ is immeasurable.

    • ANeM says:

      When you make a claim such as “Most Americans do not believe Fox News” I have to wonder, for one thing.. Do you actually live in the United States? Its a big place with a whole bucket-load of people, and of those people, a whole damn lot of them watch Fox News.

      So many people watch it that in fact the Fox News channel is the second most watched cable channel in all of the United States. Not cable news channel, this is including channels that are actually upfront about being entertainment. Can you legitimately say that of its millions of viewers, that a majority of those people are watching “ironically”?

      So the Tea Party movement, those crazy radical minority of fox news viewers that think Obama is a secret muslim with a fake birth certificate planted in the white house by “All K-duh” to destroy their country with better health care. People who regularly organize and publicize protests in association with Fox News, protests in which regularly see supporters showing up with firearms on their persons…

      You’re saying that those people, the crazy minority part of fox viewers, that are large enough to hold events around the country.. are doing it all ironically, and do not represent a larger group that, while they believe fox news and agree with the opinions it feeds them, do not feel that changes to health care call for comparisons with the Nazis and violent revolution.. or simply can’t be bothered to go outside for the rallies.

      I would say there is a good chance that the number of people in the United States who actually believe Fox News is “Fair and Balanced” and “News” is probably higher than the entire population of Canada.

    • dr.castle says:

      Whoa. OK. What I meant was “most of us Americans,” as in “most Americans who read RPS,” but a recent poll showed 46 percent of Americans say they “distrust” Fox News. Maybe that’s not most, but that’s a lot.

      But yeah, I agree that’s it’s horribly depressing that they put out things like this. It just seems a bit silly to get worked up about Fox News giving video games a bad rap when they not only put out news stories like this on a daily basis, but when some of them seem much more actively harmful to our society (remember the whole Obama is a Muslim/was raised in a Madrasah business?).

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      “Whoa. OK. What I meant was “most of us Americans,” as in “most Americans who read RPS,” but a recent poll showed 46 percent of Americans say they “distrust” Fox News. Maybe that’s not most, but that’s a lot.”

      And that’s distressing! It means 54% of Americans either are indifferent or *trust* Fox News. Even if only 1 in 2 trusts them out of that lot, you’re still at a quarter of the total population, which hovers on the 75M mark.

      I’m very often scared of the neighbors down south, to be honest. Not necessarily the individuals, but most definitely the entities.

    • johntheemo says:

      Having lived in South Louisiana for 24 years, I can assure you, people take FOX News seriously. So seriously, in fact, that I was nearly fired from a job for having turned off Sean Hannity’s news program.

      @FriendlyFire: You should be scared. But only if you’re an ethnic minority, Muslim, or in favor of the OBAMA REGIME.

    • dr.castle says:

      @FriendlyFire

      Yeah, I dug up the poll and 42% responded that they trust Fox News. That’s horrifying. Being from the southeast, I’ve met my fair share of people who watch the channel, but I had always assumed they were in the vast minority in the country as a whole. Especially given how frequently Fox News stories have been shown to include absolute, unqualified lies.

  43. edit says:

    You’d almost think Epic’s marketing department paid Fox News to write this, although the sad truth is that they are quite good at writing utterly dishonest, sensationalist, pathetic excuses for articles on their own.

    I personally dislike the direction Bulletstorm has taken, but I’m prepared to defend its right to exist. It would be nice if more developers grew up a bit and helped to mature the medium (by mature I mean more subtlety and sophistication, not more QTE sex scenes or whatever) but there is always room for the puerile in the spectrum of art. After all, art is precisely where humanity can and should freely express any and all aspects of itself. I could endlessly watch Fellini’s 8 1\2 but I still have no aversion to watching something like Jackass, because it expresses vastly different aspects of humanity.

  44. alice says:

    John Walker, I love you (in a sort of platonic, not impeding on your recent engagement [and congrats again] sort of way). I really do hope the experts respond with comments of their own.

  45. Pointless Puppies says:

    If the game’s very close to “pornography” as many people like to say, why in the world are children playing it?

    Arguing against all these fake studies is pointless (people will just come up with new fake studies to support their baseless claims), but riddle me this, Fox News. If the game is this bad, why are you examining the game’s effects on children?

    Children. Aren’t. Supposed. To. Play. This.

    So I don’t care if the game “promotes rape”, it’s an extremely poor appeal to pathos to say “the poor innocent children will be forever scarred if they every see this!” anywhere in their “argument’. Children aren’t supposed to be seeing this in the first place, meaning they play no role in the “impact” this game has.

    This, of course, goes without mentioning the rest of the incredibly bad arguments they make on the rest of their “story”, as RPS points out (complaining that Warner Bros. has no comment? Really?)

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      Apparently if the ESRB says it’s Mature, it doesn’t matter. It has to be written into law and be illegal for it to work.

      Or so they say anyway, all the while speeding to work and giving alcohol to their teens.

  46. Spacewalk says:

    Well, with the amount of dudes you can shoot in the testes (in Bulletstorm) I don’t think that there will be much raping going on afterwards.

  47. Jason Moyer says:

    Fox News: We think it’s ok to slaughter people and act like vulgar hillbilles as long as it’s not in a videogame.

  48. KillahMate says:

    I’m pretty sure Epic and People Can Fly are high-fiving each other right now. This is basically the best thing that could have possibly happened to the game. In fact they may have (anonymously of course) tipped off Fox News themselves.

    Each time one of these pathetic moral outrages breaks out (or should I say happens, since I doubt it will have any staying power) I get less and less worried and more and more amused.

    PS I would like to apologize for unthinkingly clicking on the link to the Fox News article, thus contributing to their hit total. Should have at least turned on AdBlock first. John, could you take the link out? They have enough page views as it is.

    • Kadayi says:

      I look forward to the Onion News network spin on the matter..

  49. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    To Carol Lieberman I say this: “Physician heal thyself”