How FOX News Gets Video Games So Wrong

How FOX News Gets Video Games So Wrong

Yesterday, FOX News ran a story on Bulletstorm and got pretty much everything wrong. That’s not the real story, though. They real story is how they got everything wrong: they did it on purpose.

Yes, we know, it’s FOX News, but still, how the media outlet steadfastly refused to consider both sides of the argument in this piece makes for interesting reading.

You see, in preparing the piece – in which it was claimed outrageously that upcoming shooter Bulletstorm can help encourage rape – FOX sought comment from authors, psychologists and video game experts.

The psychologists got their turn, and performed as expected. But other experts and commenters were not so adequately involved.

M2 Research’s Billy Pidgeon, for example, was quoted alarmingly out of context. And Scott Steinberg, a respected industry veteran, was contacted and his responses – which clearly spelled out the game’s satirical bent – not used at all.

As John Walker over on Rock, Paper, Shotgun points out, what’s of interest here isn’t FOX per se, but how it serves as a wonderfully detailed example of the short shrift games are given in media that doesn’t normally cover, well, games.

You can read both men’s full, unedited responses to FOX’s questions at the link below, where you’ll also find FOX’s delightfully loaded questions reprinted in full.

[The Fox News Debacle: TechSavvy Update]

[Churnalism: Fox News’ Selective Quoting, Rock, Paper, Shotgun][image credit]


  • Colour me unsurprised…

    The Bulletstorm article didn’t even pretend to be fair or balanced. Loaded questions and hysterical headlines aren’t exactly uncommon from mass media of any sort when it comes to reporting about games.

  • Anybody remember mass effect 1 when it came out? Fox news said that you could have sex whenever and with whomever you wanted. Then they said that the violence is ultra realistic, with blood, gore and gibbing. I mean, come on, they obviously just think ” a new outlet for story telling and fun! We must single handedly destroy it!”. It’s people and media outlets like this that make me, and most likely most gamers, sick. No wonder why people are so up in arms about the R 18+ rating debate…

    • Maybe we don’t need an R18+ rating… maybe we need a rating that bans non-game media from doing stupid stories on games with the goal of creating sensational headlines and getting good ratings??

    • The media do have a history with this sorta stuff, yeah 😉

      The original Mass Effect article posted on a conservative blog (which Fox picked up as the story) said:

      “Mass Effect can be customised to sodomise whatever, whomever, however, the game player wishes,” and “with its ‘over the net’ capabilities virtual orgasmic rape is just the push of a button away.”

      The Fox report (titled “‘SEX’BOX?’ New video game shows full digital nudity and sex.”) then said “that the game “leaves nothing to the imagination” and features “the ability for players to engage in full graphic sex” where the player gets to decide what happens.”

      Apart from being ridiculous, what’s worse is that the media hysteria tornado has probably contributed to the taming down of every Bioware game since. We have to wonder if every developer now has to consider the media reaction before they decide to put anything remotely mature in their games.

        • “then watch in crystal clear, LCD, 54 inch screen, HD clarity as the video game “persons” hump in every form, format, multiple, gender-oriented possibility they can think of.”

          If only? 😉

          Props also for his baffling use of “digital chip age in which we live”.

          That’s a great article, thanks for posting it (and writing it in the first place). I think your point that Mass Effect ‘is a complicated story with political themes, existential and humanitarian overtones, and adult characters who, after spending time together, become romantically involved” is an incredibly vital one to make, not just in this case but as a reminder that gaming can include some mature, serious and (gasp) intellectual themes without sacrificing the fun.

          I have some pretty strong opinions on how Mass Effect (and later ME2) turned out in terms of their romance options (especially the decision to cut Kaidan as an option for male Shep), but they’ll have to wait for another day. Suffice to say that although Bioware gets kudos for being courageous with content and mature themes, it’s still beholden to the marketing and PR crap that pushes some stuff off limits for fears it’ll scare away the 15-year old males you mention in the piece.

  • The media always misquote to push their own agenda. I once worked in an estate agents that was accused of racial segregation by a major newspaper. I was there when our manager gave a statement to the paper which was fair and cleared us. The newspaper misquoted it horrendously and used it to paint us in a worse light, as well as falsifying documents which it printed. Of course we argued and, even though I left after that time, the best we would have gotten is a crappy little “mistake in article” paragraph hidden somewhere.

    As for Mass Effect it was clear nobody on the panel had actually played the game.

    • Believe it or not, there are plenty of reputable news sources out there (BBC and CNN are pretty much the gold standards right now) and there thousands of hard-working beat reporters busting their balls.

      Fox News has given up all pretense of being a news source. This is the same people who ran the Shirley Sherrod “REVERSE RACISM” story into the ground and got her sacked based on highly dubious footage that wound up to be cleverly and maliciously edited.

      In short, I almost respect Fox for their chutzpah and sheer ballsiness in being so brazenly dishonest. Almost. If it wasn’t for the fact their work screws over millions of people every year.

  • I think there’s a typo in the story, you say: “what’s of interest here isn’t FOX per se, but how it serves as a wonderfully detailed example of the short shrift games are given in media that doesn’t normally cover, well, games.”, I think the problem is that you say ‘games’ when instead you mean ‘facts’

    • Ding ding ding.

      Fox does the same hack journalism to everything from politics, business, entertainment, sport……

      But then, so does every other media outlet. Including gaming media, which took a while to get off its high horse with the whole “gaming causes violence” debate.

  • All i can say about Fox News

    “F***ing thing sucks”
    -Bill O’Reilly

    but remember all news broadcasted today has a bit of spin on otherwise, the viewers wouldn’t care to watch, but that is fox news logic, bullshit=viewers=money.

  • Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly are as hilarious as that Steven Colbert fella that they imitate.

    I wonder if they are on PSN…

  • WhT I don’t understand is how Fox still has ANY shred of credibility left with ANYONE. How can people actually believe anything they say?

  • Fox news is like hardcopy on the simpsons when the guy freezes homer and makes out like homer attacked him,

    ‘Her sweet can, sweet sweet sweeeeet can, her sweeeeeet.’

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!