The Fox News Debacle: TechSavvy Update

By John Walker on February 10th, 2011 at 12:26 am.

I'm getting sick of seeing the logo too.

Here’s an update to my investigating the story Fox News printed in which they astonishingly suggested that Bulletstorm would cause rape. Scott Steinberg, CEO of TechSavvy Global, and all-round industry guru, got in touch with me to show me the answers he submitted to Fox when they approached him for comment. The full answers are reproduced below, because what results is a fantastic interview on the subject of adult game content and regulation.

Fox chose to use none of Steinberg’s comments in their final piece, opting instead for the more sensational claims of those with no expertise in the subject (neither of whom have found time to reply to our emails). But seeing these answers also provides further insight into how the mainstream media coverage of gaming stories works. Far from being a reporter ignorant of the subject and twisted by naive contributors, Fox correspondent John Brandon was equipped with a wealth of factual information and informed opinion before composing his frantic article. The below, combined with our previously reported unedited response from M2 Research’s Billy Pidgeon, show quite how determined the final story was to ignore the facts in favour of scaring its readers.

I am continuing to post on this matter not because I think Fox’s story is unusual for either mainstream gaming coverage (although this is a particularly egregious example), nor indeed for the Fox News house style. And not because I believe Bulletstorm needs defending. (Although I’m proud that we’ve provided a place to restore the reputation of contributors who were completely misrepresented by the selective quoting.) It is because I believe this is an interesting case study of the nature of sensationalist coverage of gaming in the mainstream press. By going deeper on this occasion, it provides a useful reference point. And, as I say above, these answers are superb and well worth a read independently of the Fox nonsense. So here are Steinberg’s (ignored) responses, along with the questions Fox News sent him, in full.

A Tea Party rally, yesterday.

Fox News: Is there a line on what is inappropriate in a video game? Should there be?

Scott Steinberg: Appropriateness is in the eye of the beholder, but anything that violates the tenets of basic social mores or common decency is doubtless to come under intense scrutiny. Should there be limits on appropriateness in video games? Undoubtedly, but as to what extent, that’s for greater minds to say, given that the true challenge is how to define the boundaries, let alone who’s qualified to delineate them. Many would suggest that anything which promotes an agenda of hate, discrimination, injustice, moral corruption or intolerance would meet the criteria for inappropriate content. But however you slice it, it’s a slippery slope, given what passes for acceptable today at the box office, record store, bookstore and on television – a problem compounded by games’ unique trait of interactivity, which serves to further blur the barriers which keep observers in other mediums one step removed from the action portrayed.

Fox: In Bulletstorm, you can shoot people in the privates, wrap them with a spiked chain and pull them in and kill them, and shoot people when drunk — all for extra points. There are also a lot of F-words. Do you think the game goes too far, why or why not?

Steinberg: No – because it’s an unapologetically and straightforwardly satirical game meant for discerning adults that’s written in the vernacular of the times and speaks in a cultural context that’s the same as that its target audience has long been indoctrinated in by mainstream media and pop culture. From Saw to South Park, look at what passes for modern entertainment at the movies or on basic cable, let alone on the Internet – this isn’t the first blockbuster (or big-budget game, for that matter) to aim below the belt or slather on the salty language. Yes, it’s shameless, but also knowingly so, because it actively aims to parody much of both the gaming field and larger cultural zeitgeist’s more asinine elements. The designers make no secret of their intentions, or to whom the title caters – The Oregon Trail, this isn’t. The giant M for Mature rating on the
front of the box says it all: Only discerning adults need apply.

Fox: Is the only answer found in better parenting (telling your own kids they can’t play the game) and ratings boards? Or is there something else that should be done?

Steinberg: The answer, as ever, lies in education: Being acutely aware of what and how your children play, and the manner in which they do so, which requires maintaining an open-minded perspective and taking the time to spend time with your kids, their games and the systems which play these titles. A multitude of resources exist from the ESRB to WhatTheyPlay, FamilyFriendlyVideoGames.com and Common Sense Media, as well as leading review websites such as IGN, GameSpot and 1up, which can help provide more info on today’s top titles, trends and topics. Not only can all help provide insight into children’s interests, motivations and the manner in which they consume game content, but the context needed to help steer them towards other, more appropriate titles which might better fit their age range or pique their interest. As with movies, albums and books featuring explicit content, you can help steer kids towards more viable substitutes that are equally compelling for healthier or more constructive reasons.

Fox: Is Bulletstorm one of the more egregious examples are are there a lot of other more violent games?

Steinberg: Like comic books, rock-and-roll and film, video games have long been subject to vilification for their subject matter due to popular misconceptions that they’re meant for children, when in fact the average player is actually a mature, discerning adult in their mid-30s. Accordingly, there’s been a long and storied range of titles featuring graphic and violent content (among other, more mundane subjects and fanciful topics) that speaks to this audience, just as there have been a long and storied range of films and TV shows (see: The Godfather, The Sopranos, every horror movie stocking movie store rental shelves since the ‘70s, etc.) that speak to moviegoers with more adult tastes. From Postal to Grand Theft Auto III to Scarface: The World is Yours, you could cite a grand history of supposedly “egregious” games dating back to the halcyon days of early arcade and computing hits such as Death Race and Leisure Suit Larry. But the reality is that the vast majority of all games produced are perfectly suitable for children and adolescents. BulletStorm just happens to be one of many examples that fall into the category of games for mature audiences, but it’s hardly among the more head-turning ones, as those who’ve played previous outings such as human prey simulator Manhunt 2 can attest.

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131 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    dbdkmezz says:

    Good stuff, it’s valuable to see that Fox’s position isn’t justified by their own ignorance.

    Thanks for keeping on this!

  2. Premium User Badge

    MajorManiac says:

    Thanks for yet again covering this sort of story with a clear and level-headed approach.

    I can only imagine how tedious this must be becoming for you, but its highly appriciated.

    • ezekiel2517 says:

      Was it really tedious? I find it an interesting topic, nonsense aside.

    • John Walker says:

      Nope, nothing tedious about writing it. I’ve found it interesting to investigate.

    • battles_atlas says:

      @ MajorManiac

      This is catnit for a journalist! Its not often a lowly games journalist gets a crack at investigative reporting. Might I suggest you focus more on the Dickensian aspects though John, there could be a Pulitzer in it for you…

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      If only there was a responsible party present around the clock to correct the fallacy of all their “news” as quickly and decisively. Or better yet, a sense of responsibility at FOX to actually do it themselves.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      The Daily Show (with Jon Stewart) tries, often, but if they really were to point out every lie or mistake, they would have to rename to the daily fox news correction show and have to be a fulltime corrective instrument..

      Why can’t we just have more objective and sane journalism to begin with :(

  3. the_fanciest_of_pants says:

    Very nice. Not hard to see why none of this made it in to the article.

    Keep us updated on this.

  4. Evilpigeon says:

    Now see, I think the reason they didn’t include this piece has less to do with his position on games and more to do with his vocabulary being too advanced for the average FoxNews reader..

    • Shadram says:

      Heh, that was my thought too.
      Fox “News” man: An intelligent, well worded response from an expert? No quotes there!

    • Premium User Badge

      Devan says:

      That struck me as a possibility as well, more in the sense that if I was the journalist receiving this response I would be a bit worried whether the fancy language might detract from getting the meaning across.
      This Scott Steinberg fellow seems like he put a lot of care into his responses and I very much agree with his statements above. However, I think they would have had a better chance of being used if the points were stated a little more simply.

    • ezekiel2517 says:

      There is no chance they would have put it on the final report, even if he had used drawings, large fonts and baby Jesus.

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      I’m sorry but I’m actually glad to see the higher language. Why should we always aim for the lowest common denominator?

    • Skyfall says:

      @FriendlyFire

      We shouldn’t; not always. But you have to know your audience, and engage them in a place, time, and manner that they’re willing to be engaged. Otherwise, you’re not communicating.

    • gwathdring says:

      But in this case your audience is a news agency that will use your words to say exactly the opposite of what you mean if they have to tear your response apart with a jackhammer and piece it together letter by letter like an ellipsis filled ransom note collage.

      Syntax and erudition are so much less important than the agenda to news groups like CNN and FOX. CNN is fast becoming an equal, but I think FOX is still much more willing to twist as opposed to simply jump wildly to crazy conclusions.

  5. Danarchist says:

    Fox news is pretty endemic of the things wrong with our political landscape here in the States. The extremists of both sides are now the only ones that get air time, which is having the hilarious counter effect of driving anyone that is not an extremist towards the dusty wasteland called “The Center”.

    We only laughingly refer to that channel as “News”. In fact John Stewart can pretty much thank them for his growing popularity in the last decade, all he has to do is show unedited clips from Fox’s previous day broadcast and we laugh ourselves silly. As a former republican myself I can tell you they do NOT represent how the average repub thinks, just the insane, loud minority. The problem is there are no ratings in common sense. They blatantly lie on a daily basis, hire and support obvious racists, and generally embarrass the hell out of me. Very few of us are actually like that, I promise you!

    • Joe Maley says:

      So Jon Stewart, a professional comedian, gains popularity by showing blips of fox news to support his own agenda?

      That sounds exactly like what fox news is doing in this report!

    • Rhin says:

      The very fact that Jon Stewart is usually the counterbalance to Fox News speaks volumes.

    • gwathdring says:

      Stewart and Colbert’s first agendas are to entertain. Also, yes they are biased. But they don’t claim to be immaculate, pure bastions of truth, and they go out of their way to cut out partisan agendas even if they display an evident political bias irrespective of the American party system. I think most importantly, though, even if their opinions saturate the whole show, and fill the reports with bias … they bother to do their damn research and at least portray the facts clearly. What they choose to illuminate is charged by their political bent. But they still entertain first, illuminate second, and preach last. And when they preach, it’s first to listen, pay attention and think, and second to come to the conclusion that Stewart and company did.

      It is by no means the same thing.

    • Araxiel says:

      I’m a big fan of the Dailyshow and also a big fan of FoxNews (best comedy show, ever!) and I agree that the people at the Dailyshow do their homework…
      …though I was really dissapointed by them when they said Belgium has not got their own language. Ok, Belgium is a small and unimportant European country (for Americans), but that the Dailyshow did not heard of the Flemish language they speak in Belgium was the first time I was angry at Jon Steward. And that despite all the German/Nazi jokes he does (I’m German).

  6. horsemedic says:

    I was all ready to jump on board for a Fox hate fest. Then I read the developer’s response.

    Holy god. “Halcyon?” “Zeitgeist??” “However you slice it, it’s a slippery slope?!?”

    I’m a reporter myself. Slamming someone in print without giving them a chance to respond is inexcusable (and pretty standard for Fox, sadly). But in this case I almost think the reporter was trying to do the twerp a favor by not publicizing his pretentious idiocy.

    “The answer, as ever, lies in education…” WTF dude? He is asking you about a vigigame.

    Ultimately, though, it’s the reporter’s fault for doing an interview by e-mail. Phone interviews generally prevent the subject from answering your questions with a goddamn freshman’s philosophy essay.

    • Shadram says:

      The slicing a slippery slope bit made me roll my eyes too, but it’s the kind of senseless cliche you read in news articles like this all the time. And you could still easily pull out useful quotes avoiding such waffle if you wanted to. I don’t think you could call his responses pretentious, either. You could argue it was badly worded, perhaps, but he still shows he’s knowledgable of the subject matter while stating his position. Unlike the Heat magazine doctor (or whatever she was) quoted in the original story.

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      The answer was education because it was relevant to the question of parenting control . . .

    • horsemedic says:

      Yeah I basically agree, Shadram. If I were the reporter I’d do something like:

      “It’s an unapologetically and straightforwardly satirical game meant for discerning adults,” said the developer, who compared it to a string of other controversial games like X, Y and Z.

      I’m just saying answering fairly simple questions with a blathering screed against the hypocrisy of our times isn’t good PR.

    • Kadayi says:

      @horsemedic

      I think the problem is that comparing it to controversial game X, Y & Z just adds fuel to the fire that ‘Games are bad’ . A position that newscorp like to run with on the whole.

    • Kryopsis says:

      ‘But in this case I almost think the reporter was trying to do the twerp a favor by not publicizing his pretentious idiocy.

      “The answer, as ever, lies in education…” WTF dude? He is asking you about a vigigame.”‘

      You say you’re a reporter yourself? Kotaku or Destructoid, I reckon?

    • horsemedic says:

      If only!

      (Actually I don’t know what those are. I write about school board meetings and unusual parades for a slowly dying daily newspaper in one of the confederate states.)

    • JackShandy says:

      ““The answer, as ever, lies in education…” WTF dude? He is asking you about a vigigame.”

      I… What? I’m no reporter, but I thought it was pretty obvious that he was saying the best way to stop violent games from reaching young kids is to educate their parents. It seems like a pretty straightforward statement- the best way to stop kids from playing these violent games is to make sure their parents understand the ratings systems, parental controls, etc.

      Why would that sentence produce a wtf? Is education somehow anathema to videogames?

    • Muzman says:

      It’s not unusual in interviews for politicians particularly to say “That’s not the question. This is:…”. Granted that’s often just an excuse to soak up airtime and it’s the reporter’s job to stop it. But sometimes it’s true. What’s an interviewee to do when the angle of the questions and the framing of the issue is wrong except not answer the question as put to them?
      You might say it’s ‘bad PR’ (which I suppose just means it’s a good way to not get in the final copy) But there’s nothing else for it when dealing with journalism of this sort. Indeed going lateral and blogging the full version like this is a great new way to avoid playing their game.

    • DOLBYdigital says:

      *slowly shakes head*
      I can only laugh at the ignorance or rather closed minded stupidity that some people display. I’m certainly an idiot but I at least mostly know the extent of my own ignorance….

    • Kryopsis says:

      Thank you, DOLBYdigital.

    • Grape says:

      the best way to stop kids from playing these violent games is to make sure their parents understand the ratings systems, parental controls, etc.

      My little brother is 11 years old, and it should be noted that he and all of his friends, to the best of my knowledge, has played everything from Call of Duty to GTA for years, at this point. And you know what? This might come as a massive surprise to some of you, but these are completely healthy, normal, happy and well-adjusted kids, with a good amount of friends, and no-one seems to get particularly traumatized when they see a little man spew pixellated blood on screen, or when Nico Bellic says “fuck”.

      In complete opposite to this, is a kid in my brother’s class whom there are stories about. Like when my brother and his soccer-team were at a friend’s house, and while he and his friends were upstairs, playing GTA, having fun and bonding, this poor kid had to sit downstairs, all alone, watching kiddie-channels on TV, because his parents had made it *very* clear to their parents that their innocent, little angel must NEVER get close to any of those nasty videogames with plastic-looking people pretending to die, because they wouldn’t want him horribly scarred for life. (I don’t even think they let him watch the news on TV.) As you can probably guess, this kid is incredibly socially uncomfortable, awkward, childish and seems just generally repressed. According to my little brother whose been over at his house on birthday parties and the likes, his parents are incredibly strict people, who once yelled at him in front of everyone for swearing, and wouldn’t let him leave the dinner table because he needed to use the bathroom.

      I’m not saying that there are no kids out there who are impressionable/gentle/squeamish enough that they will sincerely be scared when they see violence on TV and in videogames, but repression is still fucking repression, When I was a kid, my parents wouldn’t let me play Doom 2, for fear it would turn me into a murderous psychopath, so I had to play it at my friends’ houses, instead. And I’d think that many of you people who read RPS has had similar experiences in your youths. You should fucking know better, and not get horrified that the pure, innocent little angels that are children today will be traumatized for life whenever they blow up a fake-looking guy with a fake-looking gun on their Xboxes. Have you forgotten what it was like to be kids, yourselves?

      You disappoint me, RPS.

    • aerozol says:

      @Grape
      Your post doesn’t really make any point clearly.

      I think most people can agree that until a certain age, kids shouldn’t be exposed to violence as the norm, just like they shouldn’t be exposed to hardcore pornography. I know in America one of those is terrible, and the other is perfectly fine, but the effects* are the same.
      Rather than enforcing some kind of Stalinist regime, ESRB gives parents a tool to help judge what is appropriate for their children, which is at their discretion- even if you dissaprove of some parenting styles.

      *and no-one seems to get particularly traumatized when they see a little man spew pixellated blood on screen, or when Nico Bellic says “fuck”
      I am very sure that your brother and his “good amount of friends” (lol?) are perfectly incapable of being particularly impressed by anything they see on screens today, possibly including the news/real events. Wether that’s a positive or a negative, remains to be discussed. But probably not.

    • Xercies says:

      Of course I always remember a kid about 6 years old that was playing GTA for a few years and to be honest he seemed a very angry and disruptive kid for it, in fact if you went against any of his opinions he would flip out and try to beat you up. Now i don’t know if the game did cause that but it might be a likelihood…

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Since when has having a good vocabulary and the will to use it been pretentious? Why is Scott’s use of ‘halcyon’ or ‘zeitgeist’ snooty, yet john’s use of ‘egregious’ isn’t? I fucking hate the word ‘pretentious’ such a hideously snide and bitter use of language.

    • MadMatty says:

      Well sometimes you gotta reach down to get the message thru to the audience, but it would be nice to see the audience reach for the bloody dictionary once a while.

    • Maykael says:

      @ Grape:

      I am 23 years old. Long before I was 18 I played through both Dooms, GTA 3, all three Carmaggedon games and in general whatever game (intended for my age or not) I could get my hands on. I have never punched anyone, I have never thought about killing someone, I have never tortured and/or killed an animal and I even have second thoughts about killing flies. I (hope) am not socially awkward and I have been and am rather successful in school. I can honestly say that playing violent video games has never hurt me in the slightest. It’s also worth noting that my parents have never been violent to each other and that, in general, life in my family was pretty happy.

      What I mean to say is that it’s probably a case by case basis regarding what games are appropriate for whom. It’s important that we have all these facilities for parents (ESRB, PEGI) so that they can decide knowingly about exposing their children to violent entertainment. Like in your case, it’s hard to take an absolute stance on this issue, looking at the many examples of kids for whom +18 games aren’t a bad influence. The secret is, probably, in providing a loving medium in which their opinion matters and where they can express themselves freely.

      @Original Poster:

      Long words are scary, aren’t they? Also, using words to correctly express your views on a rather complex issue is not, for lack of a better word, pretentious, it’s NORMAL.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      @Maykael nail. head.

  7. ynamite says:

    Uhm, juicemaster (or whatever your nick was), care to comment?

    • Juiceman says:

      I certainly would. It saddens me that the answers submitted by Mr Pigeon and Steinberg were either misreported or simply omitted from Fox News’ final story.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      That’s what they do every single time with every single story. They’ve got an agenda, and they’re really good at what they do.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Well, that’s just not good enough. You go on this crazy rant about how Fox news is being misrepresented, they did a fair and balanced report like they usually do, blah-de-blah-de-blah… And this is all you have to say for yourself?

      You know, it’s ok to admit when you are wrong, man. We all are sometimes. No one would’ve rubbed it in your face, and we all would’ve thought a little more highly of you.

      Ah well. I don’t know what I was expecting.

  8. mandrill says:

    Wait a minute. This seems to imply that someone at Fox was engaged in journalism as some stage in preparing this piece and then an editor got a hold of it. Those questions aren’t bad, the fact that they ignored the answers is.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Actually they couldn’t use their interviewee’s name if they hadn’t actually talked to him at all. By interviewing him, they get to make up stuff and completely misrepresent him.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      The questions show a distinct bias against the game. Especially the other version of the second question that went out to the other guy:

      “Bulletstorm glorifies violence for fun and extra points. You can shoot the bad guys in the private parts for points, get drunk and shoot for more points, throw a chain with spikes and hook enemies. But some of the worst parts are actually related to the names for the skill shots and the in-game dialogue, which is definitely profane. What should be done about these games?”

      It’s as if they were reporting on, say, abortion, and were like, “Abortion is clearly the most evil thing ever and should be outlawed, so what do you think should be done to stop it?” They are supposed to be reporting news, not fishing for opinions in agreement.

  9. jackflash says:

    FOX News, proudly serving right wing propaganda and moral panic since 1996.

    • DoucheMullet says:

      Random person on video game blog, proudly showing bias to anything that fits his political agenda of being a young, video game playing male since he began thinking his little zingers on video game articles actually matter.

    • Kadayi says:

      @DoucheMullet

      Not really down with the whole internet thing are you?

    • Star_Drowned says:

      @Douche

      Someone doesn’t like it when their favourite news channel is bashed, apparently. Taking it rather personally, aren’t you? No need to be a massive prick just because you disagree.

      By the way, Fox are a bunch of sensationalists that should be lumped together with those magazines that talk about Brad and Angelina’s secret breakup. The fact that you can read these recent articles and still defend them is just mind-boggling.

      Unless, of course, you work for Fox.

      *Edit*
      Bias? Political Agenda?! Are you serious? What political agenda?

      Troll. Obviously, has-to-be, hopefully a troll.

      Your name really suits you, by the way, Douche.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Douche, before you post you might want to ask yourself “Do I really want to spend time and effort defending the integrity of a news station that went to court and won for the right to lie?”

  10. Kadayi says:

    Rupert Murdoch has much to answer for in terms of debasing Journalism.

    • Archonsod says:

      To be fair, similar moral panic-mongering was present when they invented the gramophone, and I don’t think Murdoch is that old.

    • cjlr says:

      Similar moral panic-mongering was probably invented as soon as morals were. My favourite archeological find of all time is a few fragments of an assyrian tablet, about 3000 years old, which says something to the extent of,
      “the government is ineffectual and overbearing, and the youth of today are morally corrupt and lack all respect…”
      Plus ça change, ouai? Wait, French isn’t considered pretentious ’round here, is it? Forgive me, I’m Canadian.

  11. DoucheMullet says:

    Sheesh. You don’t sound biased in any which way.And the fact that you scream “FOX NEWS SAYS BULLETSTORM CAUSES RAPE” is a flat out lie. No they didn’t. The article suggests (I don’t say I believe this) that studies show that video games like bulletstorm have somehow increased the number of sexual assaults. The author of the article didn’t say that bulletstorm will brainwash players into directly raping people. That is just shoddy, biased journalism, Mr. Walker, made evident by your obvious distaste of Fox News. How does that make you any better than them?

    Why do you use “they”. THEY did not suggest Bulletstorm can be connected to rape. John Brandon did. He is a human with his own set of opinions, emotions and ideals, believe it or not. The entire corporation is not one gigantic entity which a unified opinion on a subject. You clearly aren’t stupid, so you know this and you purposely use the word “They” to smear the company even further. That’s real classy. Hypocrite. You want a company to stop twisting stories to their agenda, then you stop doing it yourself.

    Edit: Oh jeez, I just read the questions they asked him. This guy is such a smug piece of crap, I actually almost feel embarrassed for him when I read his little philosophical rant. He sounds like a high school student who just rooted around a thesaurus for an hour or two looking for big words that would impress his English teacher.

    • Shadram says:

      Fox News are well known for turning news stories into propoganda for whatever opinion they want to forward. And you think that Brandon’s article would get published without a higher-up doing some editorial control? And if a journalist were to push an editorial opinion that was contrary to the agenda of the news outlet, do you think the journalist would continue to be employed there?

      Put it this way: could you see a BBC journalist getting away with pushing a politicised agenda on a piece like this? Oh wait, Panorama did… never mind… Still, my point stands. I think…

      EDIT: Also,
      “sexual situations and acts in video games — highlighted so well in Bulletstorm — have led to real-world sexual violence. ”
      Yes, they did claim that games have caused sexual violence and, by implication, that Bulletstorm will too. Nit-pick the phrasing all you want, the message is clearly that the game will cause rape.

    • Kadayi says:

      @DoucheMullet

      Where’s the /s ?

    • RvLeshrac says:

      You missed the part where the paper showed no such thing, as for years the violent crime rate has been decreasing, including sexual assault.

      So, if no such correlation exists, based on real-world statistics, why would he be allowed to ‘report’ it unless the network’s editors had an agenda?

    • steggieav says:

      “The article suggests (I don’t say I believe this) that studies show that video games like bulletstorm have somehow increased the number of sexual assaults.”
      So what it’s saying is Bulletstorm increases sexual assault. You’re right, that’s totally different.

      Also, it’s pretty obvious that the writer of the article has an agenda, given how he deliberately took quotes out of context. Plus, Fox News approved the article. Regardless of whether they agreed with it, they let this very shoddy piece of journalism slide by. Sorry RPS bashed your favorite newsstation, DoucheMullet. Maybe when MSNBC does a piece on how Call of Duty boosts the military-industrial complex or whatever, we can pick apart that as well.

    • the_fanciest_of_pants says:

      You’re not seriously trying to defend Fox News, surely?

      Next you’ll be telling us that The Daily Mail is a sober newspaper written with real respect for critical inquiry.

    • ynamite says:

      “The article suggests (I don’t say I believe this) that studies show that video games like bulletstorm have somehow increased the number of sexual assaults”

      The numbers Fox used were apparently bullshit. Isn’t that what John stated an entry or two earlier? I may be mistaken but I think that’s what he wrote.

      I’m going to generalize the fuck out of this and say: it’s Fox News, whaddaya expect? Journalism? Really? … Yeah, the article was indeed written by one single person, but it was published by Fox and contrary to what you say, a company should more or less have a unified opinion on a given subject, at least in a broader sense. Part of such a mission statement or opinion could be (just to demonstrate my point, may be a little far fetched though): do not write biased sensationlist reports on chunks of unfounded information.

      I mean, were all the misquotations really necessary?

    • rayne117 says:

      DoucheMullet is a troll, pay no attention.

      COME AT ME MULLET, COME AT ME

    • bill says:

      Not to feed the troll, but:
      Fox news are great at getting commentators and quotes that allow them to push their agenda without actually “reporting” it themselves. Their reports often (but not always) aren’t outright political/biased/wrong – but then the on-screen headline quotes, talking head commentators and facial responses convey an impression that is perfectly clear.

      Headline: Is game XX going to corrupt our kids??
      Report: some people are concerned about game x.
      Commentator: Oh my god I can’t believe kids can play games like this that encourage rape!!

      = Fox: we never said the game was bad.
      Yeah. Right.

      Plus they’re well known for not inviting back anyone who doesn’t push their line, and selecting commentators and experts that support their views.

  12. Pointless Puppies says:

    You know, I really was giving Fox News too much credit.

    I thought they knew enough about their “targets for propaganda” to at least know who to ask in order to get the most skewed viewpoint to support their baseless claims, but it looks like they can’t even muster that much. Rather, they just ask as many people as possible and then cherrypick the quotes they like best.

    That’s right, when Faux News runs their garbage, they don’t even know where to get it from. Even hobos know where to get their garbage better than these dimwits can.

    • tonweight says:

      Actually, the TV at the nearby Dunkin Donuts (USA, here) runs FOX “News” every morning, all morning (unless piercing chick is there, in which case it’s usually the Science Channel – GO PIERCING CHICK, for great justice!). The hobo that sits and drinks his lonely cup while he mutters schizophrenically to himself seems to really enjoy that crap. At least his mutterings seems to indicate enjoyment… or just insanity.

      Either way, the point is that FOX “News” is terrible and causes schizophrenia.

    • Dozer says:

      Your Dunkin Donuts has a TV? The only Dunkin Donuts I’ve ever seen (here in the UK) was based in a trailer that lived next to a piss-stinking concrete multi-storey car park on the edge of Kingston-upon-Thames town centre.

  13. Joe Maley says:

    Has RPS seriously dedicated three entire posts to a small filler news report? With this kind of coverage, you would think this has been the first time that a journalist has used unjustified quote truncations and similar rhetoric.

    • Shadram says:

      You’re free to not read it if you don’t find it interesting. Personally, I do. Not so much from the standpoint of being a gamer, but as someone interested in how people’s perceptions are shaped by news reports and the media in general.

      Sure, this is just one occurrence in a long list of sensationalist reports on violent games, but this is a particularly blatant one. If drawing attention to this now causes some mainstream press to take notice and reconsider their positions in future, it’s no bad thing (although it’s too much to hope that Fox themselves will take any notice). Plus it’s nice to see RPS doing some investigative journalism for a change, to compliment the usual promotion of indie browser games and rewording of press releases. (I jest!)

    • ithree says:

      Oh noes ! RPS is running out of Internet ink !

      How people continue to use up so much without consideration to mother nature is beyond me. Don’t you people know how long Internet Ink takes to make ?! The countless Orks slaving away and the pitiful Ents taken to their deaths !

      Won’t somebody please think of the Ents !

    • Joe Maley says:

      @ithree

      I hate to burst your bubble, but I think you missed the boat.
      Of course they have more than enough web storage to post as many articles as they’d like, it’s the time invested that I was questioning. Also, I was merely pointing out that there is no reason that this deserves the amount of attention it is getting – it’s just a small opinion news report, not exactly a headliner.

      It’s a ridiculous report, and everybody knows it.

    • Gpig says:

      RPS has dedicated 837 posts to Team Fortress 2 updates. 63 of them about hats alone. 3 posts showing how god-awful a news story is doesn’t seem that bad. I’ve enjoyed reading them.

    • aerozol says:

      Actually, they’ve been publishing two really interesting interviews with experts, on the subject of violence in video games, that I would have liked to read anyway.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      No. Everybody does NOT know it. There are a vast number of people in my country who believe every vile word that Fox News spews forth from their split-tongued mouth.

      This sort of thing happens all the time, and is hugely important to the gaming industry. Yes, this is just one example, but it’s a particularly egregious one, and one that is perfect as an example of what is going on out there.

      If you can’t be bothered to educate yourself a bit, kindly gtfo. I’m sure there’ll be a Minecraft post any minute. That’ll be more your speed.

      (Oooh, I hope there’s a Minecraft post. I LOVE those! :) )

    • John Walker says:

      If only I had addressed your points in the post, Joe, eh?

  14. Skyfall says:

    You know, if I were polled for my opinion by a mainstream news outlet with known conservative leanings, and I sincerely wanted to communicate my position clearly, with the hope of it being expressed in the final article, I would avoid using phrases like “written in the vernacular of the times”, “speaks in a cultural context “, “indoctrinated . . . by mainstream media and pop culture” and “[the] larger cultural zeitgeist.”

    The man is not writing an academic paper on the subject, and his readers aren’t going to be subjecting his statements to peer review. The article’s audience is much more likely to be interacting with the story on a casual, visceral, emotional level, and Mr. Steinberg’s quotes don’t mesh particularly well with such a style.

    I’m willing to believe that Fox News wanted to push an angle that Mr. Steinberg’s quotes did not support; but even without that bias, I think they’d have been hard-pressed to quote any of his answers.

    • Premium User Badge

      dhex says:

      maybe he doesn’t do a lot of soundbite work himself, and he’s more used to doing marketing presentations where zeitgeist might make people feel like their money was more well-spent?

      you’d be surprised what gets left on the cutting room floor, as it were, when pitching a story to a news outlet.

      http://www.theagitator.com/2010/12/23/on-cable-news/

      though you might be overselling how “brainy” or “academic” this was by a wee tad. i don’t see any reference to foucault, for starters, har har.

      but the idea that mainstream media and pop culture are evil machines of death and terrible things is hardly lost on anyone. in fact, it’s probably the dominant opinion, with the only real differential being which part of the msm and pop culture are the most evil (mine are the rubber stamping of the militarization of police and the drug war, respectively).

      regardless, they could have used a line or two as a “balance” anchor, like:

      “As with movies, albums and books featuring explicit content, you can help steer kids towards more viable substitutes that are equally compelling for healthier or more constructive reasons,” said the lone dissenter.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      What a sad world we live in when people can look at a sentence including such simple words as “indoctrinated” and “cultural context” and think of them as being too academic.

      Jesus people. The guy wasn’t using any big fancy words. If “zeitgeist” looks that way to you, he isn’t the problem. You are.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      ^this. I endorse the antecedent comment.

    • Binman88 says:

      @thebigJ_A I agree. I find it astonishing to believe people would have difficulty understanding his responses. I almost felt like Steinberg was being overly deliberate in his words so that his opinions would be easy to understand and couldn’t be skewed. I assumed Fox ignored them because they were fairly ‘unskewable’.

    • Frakka says:

      What thebigJ_A said. Steinberg’s ideas are hardly difficult to follow.

    • Dozer says:

      But, you’re all bright enough to be reading information from the internet for fun, and writing back responses too! That puts you very far up the tree in terms of literacy and vocabulary. I’d suggest that the people who believe what Fox are saying are, generally, not so academically blessed. Not that they’re all illiterate, but that they’re less likely to be spending their lunchbreaks reading wordy words. Unlike you bright sparks.

  15. frenz0rz says:

    “I believe this is an interesting case study of the nature of sensationalist coverage of gaming in the mainstream press”

    Couldnt agree more John. The problem is, what can we actually do about it? As I said in one of the other comment threads, RPS is preaching to the choir here. We all have a reasonable understanding of adult material, parental responsibility and the long-term bashing of comics, rock music and gaming by the mainstream media. We’ve heard it all before, and most of it is just plain old common sense. But what can we, the thoughtful, open-minded videogaming consumers that we all strive to be, actually do about this sort of thing? Is there anything we can really do to influence the intentional fearmongering of media giants such as Fox, or are we all doomed to shake our heads at this sort of thing for decades to come?

    • Shadram says:

      Hit all the “Share” links at the bottom of the post? Linking this (or John’s original post on it) on Facebook will at least allow everyone on your friends list an insight. Considering most people have 50+ “friends” on Facebook (based on the number of friends each of my friends has, the average could well be higher), that’s around a 50 times increase in people who might read it. Plus it makes RPS more money. ;)

    • frenz0rz says:

      Crikey, I must be blind. I never even noticed those before and I’ve been reading RPS every day for years.

    • MD says:

      I think the share buttons are relatively new, or at least became more prominent recently.

    • John Walker says:

      I think it’s worth noting that while there’s certainly an awful lot of choir reading, the comments have demonstrated that there’s lots of people who disagree, or haven’t experienced this before. Don’t forget that there was an occasion when you read about this sort of thing for the first time.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      I concur with John. I for one, while not surprised, find myself interested about that story, because in France, however biased and far from perfect our medias can be, we don’t see this kind of controversy very often, especially about games.

      The last controversy I can remember of was about the Irreversible movie from gaspar noe, featuring a several minute-long, crude rape scene with Monica Bellucci. And even this one only benefacted of a minor coverage.

      So yeah, while preaching to the choir, it’s kinda enlightening to see how other countries/cultures treat our hobby of choice and, in the broader sense, how they handle censorship.

  16. fela says:

    ‘Bulletstorm would cause rape..’

    Watching and listening to Fox News gives you intellectual cancer. Or any other MSM outlet.

    Mai 2 sense.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      That’s why you should only ever read/watch the most obscure media that you make yourself exclusively for only yourself. With hand puppets.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Arathain says:

    John, thank you for your continued coverage of this. This interview is fascinating and revealing for the light it sheds on the original report, but also just for the comments of Mr. Steinberg, which are well considred and eloquent.

    You’re doing a great job. Stick with it.

  18. Overlai says:

    Thank you for posting this. For real.

  19. baziz says:

    Of course a news channel dedicated to 24/7 entertainment will disparage video games, their primary competition for people’s eyeballs. Imagine if they made games for the Fox News demographic? Maybe someone should?

  20. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    John I love you! If you marry me I’ll make you cake :3!

    Thanks for keeping up this story and asking for the real statements, not some butchered copy & paste, hyphenate quotation.

  21. Gabe McGrath says:

    I’m surprised no-one’s noticed Question 4 above.

    Fox: Is Bulletstorm one of the more egregious examples [or] are there a lot of other more violent games?

    ie: Please, point us in the direction of other games that we might give the Faux News treatment.

    • realityflaw says:

      I thought the same thing, I also thought the questions about the relationship between the game and children were quite ridiculous. Personally I would have just slowly raised the box into frame looked at the camera and pointed at the bit M emblazoned across the front with a cheeze x2 grin on my face…

      Also +1 for Faux News, I’m totally stealing that.

    • Outsider says:

      Faux News is an old joke that was coined several years back. Unfortunately, Faux is not pronounced “fox”.

    • Premium User Badge

      Thirith says:

      @Outsider: puns don’t have to be auditory, they can also be about the written word.

  22. multiname says:

    Yeah, this guy needs media practice. He left himself open to the old:

    Scott Steinberg, CEO of TechSavvy, described the game as “shameless” and said it would “come under intense scrutiny.”

  23. cjlr says:

    “Yeah, but other people do the same thing!”
    That argument is even stupider than the original article, and you know it. You know who you are.

    The point of having more than one news channel is that you can compare them, and, ideally, synthesize something a little closer to an objective look at the world. Fox is the insanity outlier; the only thing they’re good for is calibrating your truthiness meter. Take them at one end, and, er, neo-marxists or somebody at the other. “Reality” is a guassian in between those two endpoints.

  24. phenom_x8 says:

    This kind of news what we need today! Journalism were always bias with promotion and “PR things” recently. Thanks RPS for bringing investigative journalism back, at least for this kind of problem! Shame on you the other gaming media(and Fox especially)!

  25. StingingVelvet says:

    Real fucking journalism going on here.

    I like it a lot.

  26. Shiny says:

    News organization discards relevant stuff because it doesn’t “fit the narrative”. Truly shocking, if you haven’t watched the news in 30 years.

  27. bobdisgea says:

    i started visiting rps daily about 3 months ago. in that time i have really come to love the type of stories posted here. but i must say the articles posted around this latest bout of retardation from fox news has made rps my favorite site. thank you rps. you are the best.

  28. Metonymy says:

    This is all viral marketing. It’s a business deal between the news source (Fox) and the game publisher, in order to make their product seem edgy and dangerous. This is how they make money.

    • faelnor says:

      Sounds like of those horrible subplots of Deus Ex :D

    • Premium User Badge

      dhex says:

      think about this for a second. imagine you’re using your own money.

      why pay for something you could get for free just for being what your product is, which is gleefully anti-social in presentation?

  29. Bilbo says:

    I’ve read enough about this now. Fox bad, experts not actually as biased as Fox makes them look.

    • Evilpigeon says:

      More like Fox, bad, totally ignored any informed opinions it received that it couldn’t twist in favour of reactionary crap from uninformed candidates who were responding to questions tailored to produce reactionary crap…

    • Bilbo says:

      Which summarised is simply “Fox bad”.

    • Evilpigeon says:

      And I guess you could probably summarise that as Fox…

    • Dozer says:

      Slashdot eh? I’ve heard of that website – Fatboy Slim did an absolutely awful song about it. I think the lyrics were:

      “Slash dot dash dot slash dot dash dot slash dot dash dot dash dot com, dot com, dot dot dot dot com”

      Ironic if it’s really slashdot.org…

  30. Surgeon says:

    This is why I love RPS.
    Great coverage John.

    • Premium User Badge

      shoptroll says:

      Agreed. I take back what I said in the comments for the last post on the topic. This is by far the best coverage of the incident I’ve read. Most of the mainstream blogs linked to the Fox story and called it a day.

      Actually taking the time to do the investigative journalism legwork is why this site is so great. Keep up the good work!

  31. Mutak says:

    Thanks for offering a more comprehensive view of what’s going on here, but i have one small complaint: Identifying Fox “News” as part of the mainstream media is like putting a paranoid schizophrenic into group therapy with a bunch of low-level hypochondriacs and and mildly bipolar people. Believe me, my opinion of the mainstream media is pretty low, but treating Fox like a serious organization instead of the propaganda machine/circus that it really is just encourages their bad behavior and makes other organizations more likely to follow in their footsteps.

  32. zeekthegeek says:

    Carole Lieberman’s books on Amazon are getting bombed heavily. Her publicists offered a statement:
    Dr. Carole was misrepresented on her views on video game violence. I hope you understand that it was the publication that chose to represent Dr. Carole’s views in this light, and that the statement was taken out of context. Her books also do not condemn the use of video games.

    It is clear, however, that this statement has unintentionally caused readers some deep emotional turmoil and we would like to rectify the situation.

    Please contact carole.lieberman.md@gmail.com with your address and contact information, and we will be in touch
    to clear up any misunderstandings that may have been caused. It is important that we create a dialogue regarding this.

    Sincerely,

    The Team at Dr. Carole Lieberman

    Looks like someone else for RPS to email?

  33. ShawnClapper says:

    Just noticed they removed all comments for that article.