Bulletstormgate: Fox News Responds

By John Walker on February 21st, 2011 at 5:38 pm.

And on and on and on, so long as the nonsense comes.

There’s always a twist. If you followed the Fox News Debacle, you’ll have seen the tale that began with an article on Rupert Murdoch’s esteemed news source that asked whether Bulletstorm was “the worst video game in the world”, and argued that playing it could cause people to rape. We took a closer look at the claims made, found that at least one of those interviewed had been deliberately misrepresented and another ignored, and demonstrated that the author of the article did not complete even basic fact checking before publishing (for instance, being willing to let readers believe that reported rapes are on the increase). Then the “expert” who triggered it all, Dr. Carole Lieberman, got in touch to finally provide her evidence for the “thousands” of articles that proved sexual violence in games causes sexual violence in real life. Nothing she sent had anything to do with the subject, and it became clear that she had either not read the papers she was linking to, or wasn’t able to understand them.

Now the original author of the Fox News article, John Brandon, has filed a new Bulletstorm story on FoxNews.com, in which he once again makes extraordinarily inaccurate statements that he cannot evidence, and decides to insinuate that Rock, Paper, Shotgun has not told you the truth. Oddly enough, we have.

Because Fox News do seem to be very muddled on this matter, let’s state this once again, up front: Rock, Paper, Shotgun does not reject the notion that violence in games could have a real-world effect on players. We do not reject this because we have yet to see convincing evidence either way, and our minds remain open. Currently, of studies that appear unbiased and scientifically robust, there is a balance between the two sides, however neither sets of results having conducted the longer-term studies that would be necessary for drawing any useful conclusions. At the moment the best one side has is to demonstrate that showing someone a sexually explicit image makes them feel more sexually aroused, and the other likes to point out that people gain better motor coordination skills whether it makes them beat up their brother or not. We aren’t at a point where it’s helpful to make pronouncements either way. What we can see, however, is that violent videogames have been around for a few decades, and there is no noticeable increase in violent crime in any Western culture that has been affiliated with gaming, and that certainly sexual crimes have dramatically fallen (by a staggering 85% in the US) since videogaming became a pursuit. If it were to cause such terrible results, it would seem reasonable to have seen its widespread effects. So far this has not proven to be demonstrably the case. So let’s move on.

Fox News’s John Brandon has not been convinced by the information we’ve been publishing. His initial story, designed to provoke fear about gaming – especially Bulletstorm – was filled with inaccuracies, ill-informed “experts”, and misquotes designed to give the impression those who study videogames believed the exact opposite of what they’d told him. It was not an example of the finest journalism, and unless Brandon is delusional, he must surely know that he selectively plucked “facts” and obfuscated information to create a misleading story that matched an agenda of the far-right news source. Unless he is unable to comprehend basic English, he knows that a game including out-of-context words like “topless” is not depicting sexually violent acts. So he had his own reasons for writing the story the way he did. And having acquired the responses genuine experts sent him, we know what information he was choosing to ignore. To Brandon’s disadvantage, we chose to do some investigation into the story. He doesn’t appear to be pleased.

In a new article on the same site, Brandon reveals that Bulletstorm has sensationally been censored in… Germany. Not in the US, he notes – his nation shall have to face the full depravity. But the Germans are to be spared. He puts it like this:

“It’s too violent for Germany. But it’s okay for America? Yet another uberviolent video game will be unleashed on an unsuspecting public next week. Featuring over-the-top violence, strong profanity and crude sexual innuendos, Bulletstorm shocked Germany’s watchdogs, who slapped the game with an 18+ rating — and demanded that publisher Electronic Arts (EA) significantly censor it to cut scenes of dismemberment and gore. EA won’t censor the violent game for its U.S. launch February 22 however.”

“Shocked”, “slapped”, “demanded”, “censor”, “dismemberment and gore”. None of which acknowledges the widely known fact that Germany does not allow any games to contain spilled human blood or human gore. It is nothing specific to Bulletstorm, it is not representative of anything this particular game does wrong beyond any other. German gaming censorship is an archaic system that has unfairly treated gaming for many years. But for Brandon the implication is this specific game is uniquely abhorrent.

Brandon later employs a technique common to those who write heavy editorialising disguised as the reporting of information. Familiar to anyone who has read the Daily Mail, Daily Express, or experienced much of Murdoch’s Fox empire, a deliberately obfuscated statement at the start of an article is designed to cause shock, before being contradicted/corrected by something thrown in further down. The idea is to have had the enormous impact on the reader with the outrageous claim, before nonchalantly contradicting it midway through, seemingly to escape criticism. So Brandon can reply to the above by saying, “Ah, but later I wrote…”

“EA acknowledged the censorship by German advisory board USK, explaining that the country censors many videogames, a policy the publisher disagrees with.”

However, the reality is this form of reporting makes the journalist look either confused or deceitful. The reader is forced to ask: If he was in possession of the above statement, then why did he not correct his opening barrage? (Also, if it’s such a huge issue, then why was he okay to publish a screenshot of the violence at the top of the article without a warning?)

NOW I WILL DO A MURDER!

But it’s not the only time Brandon gets, er, confused in his article. Let’s take a look at some of his other statements.

“FoxNews.com first exposed Bulletstorm on Feb. 8, warning that the game ties ugly, graphic violence into explicit sex acts: “topless” means cutting a player in half, while a “gang bang” means killing multiple enemies.”

What a revelatory exposure it was. This would be the same Bulletstorm that was first announced by EA on the 12th April, 2010. In the accompanying press release the following was included:

“Players step into the role of Grayson Hunt complete with an arsenal of over-the-top combat moves and outrageously large guns. Bulletstorm’s array of distinct ‘skillshots’ produces unprecedented levels of frantic gameplay and yell-inducing satisfaction. The skillshot system rewards players for inciting mayhem in the most creative way possible. The more insane the skillshot, the more points players collects to upgrade their character and unlock weapons, which then allows them to execute even more creative moves and exaggerated skillshots.”

GameTrailers first featured a video containing violent in-game footage on the 13th May 2010. GT captioned the video, “It’s violent, bloody and without redeeming social value. When do we get to play it?” And the video footage contained the ultra-violent Skill Shots, including the infamous “Gang Bang”.

It’s been widely publicised and discussed, with numerous videos, some outlandishly offensive, regularly over the last year. Fox News “exposed” nothing whatsoever.

Then there’s,

“And the experts FoxNews.com spoke with were nearly universally worried that video game violence may be reaching a fever pitch.”

“nearly universally” is a splendidly oxymoronic phrase, but it’s also an extremely inappropriate one. Let’s have a look at those experts:

Dr. Jerry Weichman: A motivational speaker for teenagers, Weichman is the only one of the people we contacted who has yet to get back to us. We had asked him what his experience of Bulletstorm was, and what expertise he had within the field of videogaming violence. He has so far been unable to provide us with this information. [Edit: since publication Weichman has responded to us.] He was described as against Bulletstorm.

Carole Lieberman: With her name now correctly spelt on the original article after we pointed it out, her claims were rapidly demonstrated to be completely nonsensical, and her eventual “evidence” proved to be nothing of the sort. She was certainly against Bulletstorm.

Electronic Arts: Pointed out that the game was strongly labelled as for adults only. They were, unsurprisingly, in favour of Bulletstorm.

Billy Pidgeon: Grossly misrepresented, Pidgeon had his quote deliberately mangled to give the impression that he compared Bulletstorm to Postal and BMX XXX, and that he didn’t think the game would sell well. He thought the precise opposite, as was extremely clear from the text he sent Fox News. He was in favour of Bulletstorm.

Hal Halpin: The president of the ECA informed Fox News that he “supported” the game, and compared it to the film work of Quentin Tarantino. He was in favour of Bulletstorm.

Melanie Killen, Ph.D: The University Of Maryland professor campaigns for legally enforced ratings on videogames in the US, but makes no statement even implying that she wishes to see Bulletstorm banned or censored, nor does she make any published statement criticising its content. Her only concern is that children not play it. Her opinion is therefore not available.

Hal Levy: The representative of the National Youth Rights Association tells Fox News that the game is “praised for encouraging innovative thinking”, and that emotionally unstable adults will not be affected by playing the game. He is seemingly in favour of Bulletstorm.

Scott Steinberg: Not included in the article, but approached by Brandon for his expert opinion, Steinberg was overtly in favour of Bulletstorm in the detailed, erudite and informed answers he gave the reporter.

So of the experts we know John Brandon spoke to, five of the eight were in favour of the game. One was ambiguous. Two were against. This is, he states, “nearly universally” worry. Which is clearly not true.

Then we get this extraordinary statement:

“The gaming press reacted violently. The site RockPaperShotgun.com [no link] contacted FoxNews.com sources and posted transcripts of interviews, exposing “the full story,” they claimed. Some sources, including Scott Steinberg, the CEO of consultancy TechSavvy Global, shared private e-mail interviews with other websites.”

Let’s break this down.

exposing the “full story,” they claimed.

Too cowardly to acknowledge that we’d accurately called him out, or to simply outright libel us, Brandon instead opts for something more insidious. He attempts to imply that we at Rock, Paper, Shotgun were in some way not telling the truth.

None of the four stories published on this matter contained the phrase “the full story” he misleadingly attributes to us, and never did we claim to have provided any such thing. We claimed to, and indeed did, post the available truth. We spoke to the people Brandon had contacted, and we found out what they had really said. Even Lieberman repeatedly stated to various sites that she had been “taken out of context” by Brandon in his article. (Despite then making the same ignorant and entirely unevidenced claims that Brandon had credited to her.) We looked at the available statistics on rape, which directly contradicted that which Brandon was happy to report as fact on a major news site. And we investigated the evidence behind the claims, finding none of it supported anything that had been said. Certainly we offered a far fuller story than Brandon. And we absolutely did not lie about anything.

Some sources, including Scott Steinberg, the CEO of consultancy TechSavvy Global, shared private e-mail interviews with other websites.

The impression given is that Steinberg somehow betrayed a bond of privacy with Fox News. What Steinberg sent us (and other sites) was his full responses that he wrote to Fox, which included the questions he’d been asked. These responses were ignored by Fox, and as such Steinberg thought it important to make it clear to the wider press that Fox had been in full possession of information that contradicted the published article. The notion that his own thoughts and feelings on the matter should be “private” is a fairly ludicrous one. Although one could see a reason why Brandon would be embarrassed to see his sensible questions exposed, contrasting his chosen style of delivery on the site.

Oddly Brandon summarises the games press response (he only identifies our coverage, and Destructoid’s typically outlandish angle) as “defending free speech.” We can attest that while of course we do (although not in our own comments), that was nothing to do with the content of our articles. We were defending evidenced based truth. It seems odd that this somehow didn’t come across to the Fox News reporter.

In light of all this, Brandon did not choose to write a story admitting that he’d misrepresented the game (it contains no sexual violence), the people he’d spoken to, nor to offer another side of the argument. Instead he writes one repeating the same ill-informed claims, littering it with occasional truths between editorialising outrage.

Image from multiple sources, but may belong to Games Radar.

The new article the goes on to “investigate” the ESRB ratings.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), rates all video games as a guide for parents; each game carries a letter-label at retail (T for Teen, M for Mature) and an online-only summary. And many experts say it’s useless, because it isn’t enforced at retail.

These mysterious “experts” are not identified. And they somewhat contradict what Brandon was told by one expert who definitely did speak to him. Billy Pidgeon informed him,

“The ESRB ratings and the market have all the control necessary to limit the availability of games with objectionable content for sale to minors. The current rating system determines who can buy a game based on content, and retailers typically strongly support these ratings. Games with violent or objectionable content will be rated T for Teen (13+), M (17+) or AO (18+). Bulletstorm is rated M and retailers will not be likely to sell the game to purchasers without ID certifying age.”

And then, enormously strangely, Brandon goes on to provide abundant evidence that his own claim is complete nonsense. Claudia Bourne Farrell of the FTC told him that most online stores require a credit card for purchases, effectively blocking minors from purchasing. But don’t take comfort, because, “However, according to a report by the NPD Group, 90% of game purchases are made at “brick-and-mortar” stores like Wal-Mart.” Uh-oh – so it must be there that the kids are getting them then? I mean, you wouldn’t say “however” otherwise, right? Um, no.

“Retailers have been doing an excellent job checking customers’ ID to make sure they are seventeen or older before selling them an M-rated game,” said Eliot Mizrachi, communications director at the ESRB. “Considering that both video games and movies are rated for age-appropriateness, why should they be treated differently in terms of how they are sold?”

But he would say that, wouldn’t he? But what about Dan Hewitt of the Entertainment Software Association? He told Fox News,

“a recent FTC study found that 96% of those surveyed were aware of the ESRB rating and what it means. Hewitt also said the average age of those who play video games is now 34, much higher than in past years.”

But didn’t we begin this section of the story being told that “experts say” the ESRB ratings are “useless”? None is named, referenced, alluded to. Just a series of people saying the precise opposite.

Which appears to be John Brandon’s MO in his two Bulletstorm stories. Make an unsupportable, untrue and scaremongering statement at the top of an article, pretend that there is abundant evidence to prove this from unidentified experts, and then put a series of contradictory or easily disproved claims from a few of those who got back to him. And presumably hope no one bothers to think about it.

His conclusion comes from nowhere:

So what is to become of Bulletstorm? So much has been written about the shooter prior to release that the actual game may end up being disappointing. Indeed, FoxNews.com tested a widely available demo and found the game was gory and crude — but hardly a creative tour-de-force.

Never mind the lunacy of reviewing a game based on a demo, the first statement is just peculiar. No more has been written about Bulletstorm than any other forthcoming AAA cross-platform release. Maybe Brandon means in light of his own articles? Certainly a lot has been written about the horrendous state of reporting on Fox News in light of the stories, and the discussion of gaming violence has been brought up once more. But this is all pretty much irrelevant to Bulletstorm. We’ll find out tomorrow when the game is released, and the embargo on the reviews expires.

We’ve contacted Fox News to request an interview with John Brandon.

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235 Comments »

  1. Legionary says:

    You got smeared by FOX News. Nice job, RPS — it means you must be doing something right.

    • Dominic White says:

      Seriously, it’s like a journalistic badge of honor. If Fox News call you out as liberal liesmiths, then chances are that you’re doing something very right.

    • DarkFenix says:

      Indeed, anyone who pisses in Faux News’ coffee (generally by doing something heinous like having some form of integrity) has a thumbs up in my book.

    • fearian says:

      Congrats guys!

      And thanks for following this so well John!

    • baconismidog says:

      Be careful man, Fox is going to submit your name to the death panels…

    • bob_d says:

      Although to be fair, it wasn’t so much a smear job as the Fox writer engaging in infantile, petulant mewling aimed in RPS’s general direction. And I like to think of RPS’s response as a polite, extremely articulate way of saying, “Grow up and do some actual journalism. Here’s how it’s done.” Pity it’s wasted on Fox, though.

    • crainey92 says:

      Congratulations.

    • Groove says:

      Thank you John Walker, you are Super King, Lord of Journalism.

    • Christian O. says:

      Yeah, congratulations! However keep in mind that Fox News, and most of their viewership are what we in kinder terms refer to as “argument resistant”, and as such, are probably not going to indulge in intellectual discourse or even polite conversation.

    • Crispy says:

      It’s as painful to watch as Augustus Haynes vs. Scott Templeton, only this isn’t fiction!

    • Earl_of_Josh says:

      I happen to live in the US, and I have to say, I’ve never been prouder of you fine gentlemen. Finally getting lambasted by an institution I think represents some of the worst “news” this country has to offer.

    • Tatourmi says:

      Have my newborn babies, you deserve it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Now you need to get the coveted Hated by the Daily Mail award.

    • Novack says:

      Go get’em tigers!

    • Web Cole says:

      I recall reading about Steven Fry having/being given the “Hated by the Daily Mail” badge.

      I’d say RPS has earned a similar badge of honour in this instance ; )

  2. Mockturtled says:

    John, it’s been said before, but this continues to be excellent coverage. Bravo!

  3. Mutak says:

    Sadly, this whole affair will probably only earn John Brandon a promotion and/or raise over at Fox.

  4. KingCathcart says:

    I’m trying to imagine you reacting violently John, I really am.

    • Soon says:

      Don’t you know the cautionary Walker rhyme?

      “When the tears run red, it’s anger instead.”

    • Starky says:

      Of which the next line is…

      “And if the tears turn green, you’ll need a vaccine.”

    • KingCathcart says:

      Which Walker would be no help with as he is a notoriously terrible healer.

  5. Daniel Rivas says:

    I’m sure you wouldn’t want to, but theoretically speaking, do you think you’d have a decent chance of winning a libel case over this?
    On the one hand, he left himself quite a bit of room in which to wriggle; but on the other hand, there’s our libel laws…

    • sqrrl101 says:

      I’m no lawyer, but my guess would be that unless you have a pretty rock-solid case, you don’t want to be going up against Fox in a legal battle. I suspect that their army of lawyers is formidable, and that they check most of what Fox publishes to ensure that it’s just on the legal side of libel.

  6. _Jackalope_ says:

    Geez. At this rate I’m going to buy this game even if I don’t like the demo. Just on the principle of proving Fox News are idiots.

    • Icarus says:

      It’s a tricky ‘un. Buying Bulletstorm means ‘up yours, Fox news’ but it also means ‘yeah, we’re happy to buy games that contain godawful GFWL’.

    • Namos says:

      Worse, it means acceding to EA’s ugly attempt to inflate PC prices – Bulletstorm (as well as Dead Space 2 and Dragon Age 2) is being sold for 60$.

    • Shagittarius says:

      I’d rather have GFWL than Steam any day.

    • suibhne says:

      Bulletstorm isn’t an EA game, tho got Dead Space 2 and Dragon Age 2 right.

    • soundofvictory says:

      @Namos While a $60 pricetag does seem a bit high, I think it is reasonable from a business perspective.

      At first look, it seems like a racket. Console game makers are required to pay a licensing fee to the console manufacturers on top of all the other costs behind development. For PC games there is no such licensing fee. However, the console games are offset by far higher sales which give them higher return despite the high fees. PC versions of console games basically sell less, so it makes sense that they would want to try to offset those lower numbers somewhere.

      But seriously, $60? Who wants to pay that? Not this guy. I can’t remember the last full-priced $60 game I’ve bought. Wow, I think last game I bought at full price was Bad Company 2 when it first came out which is about a year ago.

    • ColdSpiral says:

      @namos, @soundofvictory
      Oh, what I’d give for more $60 games! Bulletstorm at a petty $88 is considered quite cheap here.

    • ShawnClapper says:

      Depending on where purchased you might just indirectly be paying FOX News.

      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_Corporation)
      News Corporation owns IGN which in turn owns Direct2Drive which in turn sells Bulletstorm.

  7. swagger says:

    I’d be interested to see Glen Beck review Manhunt.

    Any chance of you guys setting up some sort of guest article?

  8. Sunjammer says:

    Up, about and LYING again are we John Walker? Tsk tsk

  9. ZenArcade says:

    Absolutely amazing stuff, well done RPS and well done John, we all love you.

  10. Leyths says:

    Keep up the good work John, you’re a star in the muddy mire of games “journalism” as it currently stands.

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    Andy_Panthro says:

    Great work again.

    It’s a shame that the media in general uses such techniques so widely that so-called journalists can get away with blatant misrepresentation or downright lies.

    My main beef is with science reporting for much the same reasons, it appears that people make a living writing articles based loosely on press releases as well as unfounded critical opinion.

    Keep it up John, we’re all behind you!

    • bob_d says:

      The Fox stuff really veers out of opinion into misrepresentation pretty quickly. Just look at statements like “the game ties ugly, graphic violence into explicit sex acts.” The implication is that there’s some sexually explicit content in the game – the sentence doesn’t make sense otherwise. But of course the game contains no more “explicit sex acts” than Fox news does. The phrase “gang bang” isn’t an “explicit sex act,” it’s a slang term for a sex act, which is a completely different thing. Though I suppose by using Fox’s same process of misrepresentation, we can say that Fox news reports contain “explicit sex acts” simply for repeating that phrase. (“Fox news ties ugly, mock journalism into explicit sex acts.”)

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Wait, since FOX is using these words in their own articles, does that mean their articles will now cause rape? Will unsuspecting readers be imprinted with a Pavlovian reaction to shoddy journalism, where every time they read a FOX News article they get the urge to rape someone?

      Stay tuned for more, after this commercial break (which will feature ads for Michael Bay’s latest explosionfest and torture-porn series 24).

    • bob_d says:

      @Dances to Podcasts: Thousands of studies show that this is the case. I, for one, am outraged. Fox news is banned in many countries – why should we be subjected to it?

  12. Lost says:

    loldrama.

  13. Bantros says:

    But Bulletstorm made me!

  14. mandrill says:

    Well done chaps. This is awesome work. Though once again, you are preaching to the choir. Have you thought about getting in touch with a more mainstream outlet (not a News International one of course) and getting them to publish it?

    • John Walker says:

      In my delusional la-la-land fantasy world brain I like to imagine one of the mainstream news sources might bother coming to us.

    • Premium User Badge

      Haphaz77 says:

      John – contact The Daily Show with Jon Stewart if you can – they have a similiar view on Fox News to you and might go with it at an approriate moment.

      Excellent work there.

    • bigtoeohno says:

      Or try fox, they’ll publish anything…

    • anonymousity says:

      Yes I’m sure all the biggest papers will be champing at the bit to print as their front page story “Fox News Knowingly Misrepresents the Truth (lies)”

    • SanguineAngel says:

      At least we know Brandon read RPS’ articles or some of them.

  15. Wodge says:

    sorry to go all 4ch on you all but i believe this is what the article is getting at:

    NOT TOLD [ ]
    TOLD [x]
    TOLD OF THE RINGS [x]
    NO COUNTRY FOR TOLD MEN [x]
    THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE TOLD [x]
    TOLD STORY 2 [x]
    TOLD WITH THE WIND [x]
    DR STRANGELOVE OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE BEING TOLD [x]

  16. sventoby says:

    Fox News is like a professional troll organization but with political power. I think it’s best to just ignore them.

    • Hallgrim says:

      Worked great for John Kerry… remember the guy who was awarded two purple hearts and the silver star and still has shrapnel from an RPG in his leg after being a privileged white kid who volunteered for combat duty in Vietnam? Yeah, the one who lost his presidential race after people accused him of being unpatriotic and undeserving of (one of) his medals… primarily because he refused to defend himself against organizations like FOX news.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      I don’t want to sound like the torch-and-pitchfork kind of guy, but like I said in a comment below this, I’m getting peeved that people just dismiss Fox News as rambling idiots who nobody should listen to. They ARE rambling idiots and nobody SHOULD listen to them, but the fact of the matter is that many, many people do, and this straight up libel against the gaming industry actually hurts the public perception. Yes, their audience is largely inconsequential for the gaming industry’s well being, but I’m talking more about the cultural acceptance.

      I’m not saying people should protest and blow up their headquarters, I’m saying they need to be called out on. Any news media that writes libel for anything and spewing ignorant hate needs to be called out on. Just ignoring it because they do it all the time doesn’t make it go away.

      I really wish more gaming sites would pick up on this and behave exactly as RPS is behaving. Not with ramblings and insults, but with careful deconstruction of Fox’s horribly misinformed articles and factual evidence of misrepresentation and skewing the facts. I wish the gaming industry would give pressure back to the ignorant media, let them know this industry isn’t their “easy target” lapdog that they can just run an anti-gaming article every other week for some easy ratings and pageviews. Yes they’re ignorant, they should be ignored, but they can’t be ignored.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      I’m saying people should protest and blow up their headquarters.

    • pepper says:

      Nah, we dont want to copy-cat the whole middle east. They would call us islamic something something.

      We need a huge LAN party in front of there building.

    • godgoo says:

      a fox is an animal

  17. westyfield says:

    “Too cowardly to acknowledged that we’d accurately called him out, or to simply outright libel us…”
    Don’t worry, I’ll do a libel for you:
    ‘RPS is a paedophile and murdered a puppy.’
    No need to thank me. :)

  18. Heliocentric says:

    If nothing else, getting traffic from a major site is good. But aren’t d2d selling this game, the same people as fox?

    • Premium User Badge

      heretic says:

      I guess that shows integrity from Fox!!! ahahah

    • Nick says:

      Yes but its hardly surprising given they also like to complain about News organisations run by billionares.

    • Urthman says:

      FOX News’s hypocrisy in such things knows no bounds. Recently they were wringing their hands because a proposed muslim cultural center was being funded by some rich scary “radical muslim” who was — wait for it — actually one of the big investors who owns a piece of FOX News.

    • Al Ewing says:

      Not to mention that a bit of media outrage never hurt sales of anything. This is practically insider trading.

  19. pakoito says:

    Fox News is trolling RPS.

  20. Pointless Puppies says:

    Please continue this coverage, John. You’re completely and utterly taking them downtown when it comes to journalistic integrity and actual reporting of the facts.

    What saddens me the most about these clowns over at Fox News spewing their ignorant propaganda is that their equally-ignorant masses gobble it up. Give how little research their “news” (yes, in full quotations. Unlike Fox News, I’m not insinuating anything, they really ARE a completely fake freak parade that disguises itself poorly as a news outlet) articles get I can’t imagine their…uh…brilliant audience to actually do the research themselves. I’m also enjoying the lack of link to the actual articles here on RPS. Clearly they don’t want their audience to actually READ what John’s saying, because otherwise they’d actually know what the hell is going on.

    It’s infuriating how rarely Fox News gets called out on its pathetic excuses for “news articles” that do nothing but advance a corrupt, ignorant agenda. John, don’t back down on this, because I’m getting a little annoyed at the “Oh, Fox News, you are incorrigible *cue sitcom outro music and laughtrack*” attitude many people take nowadays. They’re not just rambling idiots, they’re actually harming the industries they fling mud at and at the very least need to be called out on.

  21. Urael says:

    John, you’re my fucking hero.

    Mere words cannot convey how much I despise Fox “News”. And you’ve comprehensive handed them their lying propaganda-ist asses to play with. You’d better be up for a heavyweight Journalism award this year. Seriously.

  22. Premium User Badge

    heretic says:

    If he’d kept his mouth shut people would have just forgotten about this.

    For Fox to come up with more lies is just making more people aware of their atrocious reporting, not entirely sure this is good for that reporter though, he wanted the last word but the interwebz always have the last word, obviously he’s ill informed about the internet and the gaming community.

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      Speaking of which, there has GOT to be a Bulletstorm Rape meme over at 4chan by now! Anyone know? Surely those /b/tards couldn’t keep their rapey mitts off of this one.

      Also, great article. I admire how you’re not succumbing to the gamers urge to be overly protective of our hobby as a defense mechanism. It would have tarnished the journalistic merit of these pieces.

      Objectivity rules!

  23. Stranglove says:

    A medal to RPS.

  24. Buemba says:

    The only thing that annoys me about this whole thing is that RPS’s coverage got lumped with Destructoid’s. They write good articles sometimes, but Sterling seems like he’s out to prove that every negative stereotype people have about gamers is true.

    Even when I agree with the point he makes it still makes me hate the way he externalizes it.

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      tomeoftom says:

      Jim Sterling really ought to be stood down from his job at Destructoid – he’s totally hateful and mysoginistic, as a recent public Twitter spat between him and Auntie Pixelante’s partner has proved. I won’t be reading Destructoid until they eject the idiotic, infantile shithead from their payroll.

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      I agree mostly. He is misogynistic and rather crass in so many ways, but I can also see his side of the story in that twitter debacle. In fact I’d almost be on his side. Those women admitted that they deliberately provoked him, and they said (and drew) some pretty miserable stuff that I think would make anyone react badly, and then they kept egging him on after it blew up, but afterwards acted as if they were these poor blameless women, and oh shouldn’t people be sorry for us, poor Mr. Sterling is being sexist and mean! Well, if they use that tactic they’re not very good feminists in my book. Misogyny is inexcusable, but they took the rug out from under their own feet by playing the poor innocent and vulnerable woman card which relies on female stereotypes, which speaks of a certain amount of hypocrisy to me. Say what you want of Sterling, and nearly all of it deserved, but at least he doesn’t hide what he is.
      /rant

    • vodkarn says:

      “He is misogynistic and rather crass in so many ways, but I can also see his side of the story in that twitter debacle.”

      I don’t care who ‘egged him on’ he’s still a misogynistic asshole who writes the same boringly vitriolic articles every single time. Anyone likes PC gaming? They’re morons. Women being uppity? Morons. Someone disagrees? Moron.

      /yawn

    • Tim Smith says:

      I’ll likely be labelled a fool for asking but – what, exactly, is wrong with Jim Sterling? I’ve never noticed anything too off about him.

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      @Vodkarn – Well you’ll notice that I didn’t apologize for him being misogynistic once. But if he is that then those women are hypocritical faux-feminist bitches and not the blameless maidens they are trying to come across as. Him being a misogynist or an asshole does IN NO WAY excuse them for what they did.

      @Tim Smith – Well, I’ve enjoyed some of his articles myself, but he has a habit of crafting these rather caustic statements or articles which he knows he’s going to get flamed for just because it will get him more traffic. It’s the any press is good press strategy. And even if he is using parody or satire it still paints a bad picture of gamers in general.

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      Double post.

    • ezekiel2517 says:

      Just go read his article on Crysis 2′s leak (Killzone 3 too). Apparently, we are to blame for them getting out early.

    • Tim Smith says:

      Thanks for the explanation. I still rather like him. But, that’s forgivable.

  25. Premium User Badge

    tomeoftom says:

    Mr. Walker, you are a breathtakingly enjoyable – and most of all meticulous – man of rants. If only everyone in the world could see reason and totally deconstruct bullshit like you.

  26. Duality says:

    This just in – RPS causes rape.

    • PUKED says:

      I heard they got their name from the weapons they regularly call upon their readers to use to harm innocent children “when the time comes”.

  27. chiroho says:

    Awesome job holding supposedly professional journalists feet to the fire. For years it’s seemed as though mainstream media (from newspapers to TV) have picked and chosen what they include in a given story, always skewing the content to communicate the message they want instead of anything remotely resembling facts. It’s about time someone called them to account, and I’m so thrilled at the factual way in which you’ve gone about doing this.

    Massive props to you and RPS.

    Perhaps we can get someone to mod Brandon’s face onto characters in the game so that players can get “topless” and “gang bang” skillshots for getting rid of him “in game”? ;-)

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      Well . . . that would end badly. Like making CS maps of your school badly.

    • Koozer says:

      I tried to make my school in Timesplitters 2 once. I ran out of space before the first corridor with rooms was done.

    • Nomaki says:

      We made a to-scale map of our high school in CS:S, with hostages in the teacher’s lounge.
      Oddly, our head teacher wanted us to turn it into an interactive virtual tour when they found out

  28. Jambe says:

    Thanks for these articles, John. Engaging with baldly disingenuous, obfuscation-prone folk like John Brandon must be painfully tiresome. You’re thoroughgoing!

    Jambe tips his hat

  29. Bayemon says:

    Have to love Fox News. It is just embarrassing what they try to pass off as journalism. A bunch of clowns running around just making stuff up and calling it journalism. Pretty sad.

    • Torgen says:

      Except that you then have literally millions of people taking it as gospel and regurgitating it.

      “Say anything often enough and it becomes the truth”

  30. bascule42 says:

    Love it how the games press “reacted violently”. Does this mean John Walker is as violent as Fox News, oh sorry, Bulletstorm”?
    Fox News…hardly the most credible scource. The US has Fox, we have Sky news & Five news. Let’s face it Murdochs’ news is a viable as a plastic peanut in a monkey cage.
    Riddle me this;
    Q. What is nasal sex?
    A. Fox News.

  31. Ignorant Texan says:

    Listing Wal~Mart as a bastion of liberal consumerism is very, very rich. At a Wal~Mart, I could buy a hunting rifle, ammunition, alcohol, cigarettes and a rated M video game. They’d ask for my ID to verify my age for the video game alone. The FOX demographic’s moral preferences in action.

    • dragonhunter21 says:

      Point of fact, they do card for guns and maybe ammo. I know some kids that were unable to purchase a target for an Airsoft rifle. They weren’t buying ammo, they weren’t buying the guns, they were buying a target.

    • Nick Ahlhelm says:

      Or… it might just be that you look old enough for the guns, ammo, alcohol, and cigarettes.

      Yes, which would mean you certainly look old enough for the game, but the last I knew, WalMart requires ID for ALL M rated games. Whether you’re 20 or 75.

      I’m balding and in my early 30′s and got carded for some $10 PS2 game I got a year or two back. It’s probably one of the main reasons I avoid WalMart’s electronics section.

  32. Kieron Gillen says:

    JOHN WALKER: SERIOUS TALKER.

    KG

  33. Farsearcher says:

    Keep up the excellent coverage John. Though they fire a volley at Castle Shotgun your shield of truth and proper research will stand firm.

  34. Chakawi says:

    If find this all very interresting, but I feel so sad that many american people are informed by such journalists. It’s scary, WW2 style scary…

    Thanks RPS

  35. Premium User Badge

    Norskov says:

    Yet another excellent article on the subject. Thank you John.

  36. Premium User Badge

    Schaulustiger says:

    It should be made clear that the USK does not censor games here in Germany. The 18+ rating just means that a game is “not suited for adolescents”. If a game is rated 18+ by the USK it can be labeled as “youth endangering” by the BPjM, at which point it’s forbidden to publicly sell or advertise this game. Any changes to the game so that it receives a softer rating are made by the publisher’s choice.

    I don’t like it, it’s an archaic law, but it should be made clear that there is no state-side “censorship” in Germany.

    • ix says:

      I don’t mean to be flippant, but “we’ll outlaw your game if you don’t change this and this” is still censorship. You might argue that it only bans the most extreme cases (Manhunt etc) but I don’t see how it’s not censorship.

      Changing the game is only voluntary in that your other option is not to publish at all.

    • Premium User Badge

      mrwonko says:

      I was about to write about this, too.

      Actually, there are multiple 18+ ratings in Germany:
      - The USK may give a game an 18+ rating. It can then be sold to adults and be advertised.
      - They may also choose to not give it a rating. Only then can the BPJM label it as “youth endangering”, in which case it must not be advertised. Depending on the severeness it may then only be sold under the counter (like the uncensored Borderlands) or not at all (like Manhunt).

      In any case the USK does not demand “that publisher Electronic Arts (EA) significantly censor it to cut scenes of dismemberment and gore” (as Fox News wrote), they can only say “we won’t give this an 18+, and here’s why”, at which point EA may choose to censor it.

      But RPS makes a similar mistake, claiming that “Germany does not allow any games to contain spilled blood or human gore.” Even the 12+ game Risen contains spilled blood, and 18+ Darksiders has a “spilled Demon blood” counter. It is also noteworty that Dead Space (both 1 and 2) received an 18+ rating in Germany – uncensored. (Mostly because you fight monsters, not humans.)

      In general I like the German rating laws, I don’t think that games like Bulletstorm should be played by a child. The problem is that they partially limit the rights of adults, which seems wrong to me.

    • Premium User Badge

      Schaulustiger says:

      @ix: They are not outlawed and that’s important. Back in the days when I still bought retail copies, I used to shop at a nice stor ethat had a list at hand with every title on the so-called “Index” (the “youth endangering” games). You could choose and buy them if you were over 18 years old, they were just not put on the shelves, because that would count as advertisement.

      I know it’s dumb and all that, but it’s still not censorship, technically speaking. The only games that were confiscated were those that conflicted with the law, “Wolfenstein 3D” was a prominent example, because depicting the swastika is illegal under some circumstances in Germany. That’s dumb, too, but a completely different matter.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      An additional point I found confusing in the original article, since it contains (not suprisingly) a factual error. It says the following:

      “Game censorship is based on antiquated thinking about our audience,” said Jeff Brown, a spokesman for EA. “Games and game players should have the same rights afforded to books, movies and television

      (emphasis mine)

      now this quote is put into context with “german game censorship” (a term which Schaulustiger and mrwonko debunked above), and it thus sounds as if games are singled out in Germany and treated differently to the rest of the media, when in fact — since the establishment of the USK rating board –games are held to the same scrutiny as the “established” media. Movies are rated by the FSK Filmwirtschaft board, which, like the USK, can relay extremely violent movies to the BPjS for declassification. Television shows are rated by the FSK Fernsehen, which e.g. forces >18 programs to be broadcast after 11pm

      All these *SK organisations – because they are instituted by the respective industries themselves – are quite effective and accepted in the german media market, so when they propose a film to be recut, or a game to be “censored” (for example replacing gibs with “hilarious” crap in TF2), the publishers don’t fuzz about it too much and just do it as part of the localization process.

      (which could also have been partly responsible for the delayed demo, the german publisher may have wanted to avoid the hot water had they advertised this game in its unrated form)

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Putting restrictions on expression is censorship. Period. It doesn’t matter in what round-about way they do it.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      There is no restriction on expression, how should that work anyway?
      What is discussed here is the publishing industry’s self-regulation on how to market their products so that a child can’t buy codblops. As a developer, [edit: I think] you don’t have to go through these channels, you could go 100% indie, and say whatever you like, as long it is in accordance with german criminal law, of course, which may not be the most liberal (yet), but hey, it works. If you do so, of course you don’t need to wonder if your hate speech rape serial killer nazi game prompts the authorities to show up at your doorstep to confiscate all copies of the game.
      After the frustration that was the hit and miss publishing practice of “violent games” in the 90s (id Software practically became a persona non grata), the situation now is much improved, since devs actually get to sell their games free from hassle.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      If you have to cut content to get it sold in stores, that’s a restriction on expression. What don’t you get?

  37. sana says:

    Better get out the plates, Brandon, because you just got served!

  38. Baltech says:

    This series of articles is, without a question, the very finest piece of games journalism and one of the best demonstrations in journalisming in general, I have read in the past decade. My hat is off to you, Mr. Walker and please do go on.

  39. Sfyreas says:

    I visit RPS regularly but never actually bothered to comment.
    Your first article (exposé) on the subject was insightful and thorough. Your second article is on par with the first and on par with the kind of journalism expected from “serious” media that deal with “serious” subjects ( I suppose fox news regards itself as such ). Solid arguments, investigative prowess, debunking of pseudo-scientific “research” based on popular opinion or the dreaded “everybody knows that…it’s common knowledge that…” bullshit.
    Great job.

    PS.
    That was the most ridiculous CAPTCHA i’ve ever taken in my life. What’s next? Play Beethoven’s 9th?

  40. Shadram says:

    More well written, well sourced reportage.

    The only bit I thought was extraneous was the comments on the date Fox “exposed” Bulletstorm. I just took that to be the date of their first article, rather than a statement that they were the first people to discover Bulletstorm’s existence.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Look up the word “exposed”.

    • Shadram says:

      I know what exposed means, that’s why I put it in quotes. I was simply trying to point out that nitpicking the poor use of words in the Fox article could undermine John’s real argument; it’s like claiming an argument is invalid because it has spelling mistakes.
      And yes, I get that the whole thing is about poor use of words, and misquoting, and so forth, but fear that if the games press starts basing their argument on “Hur hur, he doesn’t even know what ‘expose’ means, he’s really stupid!” then the whole thing may just degenerate into a slanging match and nothing will be achieved.

    • thatdog says:

      “Exposed” in this case means “revealed the truth about.” The author of this article is right to challenge the notion that Foxnews was the first to uncover the violence and profanity in the game. It was never hidden to begin with. It’s not at all like pointing out a spelling error; it’s pointing out an inaccuracy that was intended to put Foxnews on the moral highground and BulletStorm on the lowground.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      ^ This.

  41. dragonhunter21 says:

    I’m in a high school Forensics class, specializing in speaking events (Specifically Student Congress). Our freshmen write better than these journalists. At least we don’t disprove our own arguments habitually.

    Come to think of it, that’s sort of genius- They’re providing the information that proves them “neutral”, but it’s all the way down while the headline, pretty picture, and scary language is at the top.

  42. Teddy Leach says:

    Go get ‘em, John!

  43. Nova says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Great job John, the whole coverage.

  44. LazyGit says:

    Surely this is actually a BulletStormStorm?

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      I’m just waiting until it devolves into ‘BulletBulletStormStormGateGateGATE’ or somesuch.

  45. FunkyBadger3 says:

    PWNED.

    Excellent, excellent journalism – head and shoulders most other publication’s gaming coverage.

  46. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    this whole thing just makes me want to bang my head on the wall :(

  47. Jamison Dance says:

    We’ve contacted Fox News to request an interview with John Brandon.

    That was my favorite part.

  48. Daniel Klein says:

    I am very happy that someone is fighting this fight, and I am happier still it doesn’t have to be me.

    I confess to not finishing this article. The whole thing is beyond tiresome. We are dealing with deceitful people who use journalism to push an agenda and/or simply receive attention/cash monies, and we’re pretending that rational discourse can affect them. Clearly it cannot. But if there are any borderline rational people listening to the Foxes shouting their lies and falsehoods, this series of articles here is a great resource to point them to.

  49. Jumwa says:

    Been following closely all the articles RPS has posted and it’s been top notch journalism. Well done, and hope the site and the writer gets some (more meaningful) recognition for this.

  50. The Hammer says:

    “We’ve contacted Fox News to request an interview with John Brandon.”

    Oh, yes please!

    Great to see RPS taking such a stand on this. Your integrity on these issues is amazing, gentlemen. Professional, serious, watchdog journalism.