Conservative Site Charges "Explicitly Graphic Sexual Intercourse" in Mass Effect

January 11, 2008 -

The Cybercast News Service, a conservative site, claims in a report published this morning that best-selling Xbox 360 title Mass Effect contains "explicitly graphic sexual intercourse."


The charge seems to be based on a well-known episode in the game in which there is a romantic liaison between the player's character and an NPC. However, in our view, it's quite a stretch to describe what appears onscreen as explicitly graphic sexual intercourse, which generally denotes hard core pornography.


Mass Effect is far from that.


However, a lawyer (no, not that lawyer) quoted in the article specifically refers to the game as porn. From the CNS piece:


The game is "clearly marketed to minors," Cathy Ruse, a lawyer and senior fellow for legal studies at the Family Research Council, told Cybercast News Service.


"There are cultural implications for feeding porn to kids in this way," ...Ruse said.


In describing the scene, CNS writes:


The playable character can become romantically involved... This storyline culminates in a cutscene in which the characters copulate in full digital nudity.


The article also quotes Bob Waliszewki, described as a media specialist with Focus on the Family. Waliszewki seems especially troubled by the fact that two women are involved in the love scene: 


Unfortunately, Mass Effect... even goes so far as to allow homosexuality to be on par with heterosexuality and heterosexuality outside of its proper context of marriage.


Attorney Ruse also painted the love scene in the game as porn in the legal sense:


Most states have what's called 'Harmful to Minors' laws on the books that say that selling sexual material that a jury would deem 'patently offensive to minors, which lacks literary, artistic, political or scientific value.' ... might be prosecutable.


We need state and local prosecutors with spines and backbones to prosecute some of these companies that are violating the law.


Regarding CyberCast News Service, SourceWatch reports that:


Cybercast News Service (CNS) is a subsidiary of the conservative news monitoring group, the Media Research Center (MRC)...


Media Research Center Inc. is a conservative media watchdog group run by president and founder Brent Bozell. The Center... is funded by larger right-wing foundations...


Brent Bozell is also the founder of the Parents Television Council.


Here's the video. Do you find it to be "explicitly graphic sexual intercourse?"





Comments

Re: Conservative Site Charges "Explicitly Graphic Sexual

Fox News...

Yet another reason to become a hermit.

... I've seen worse on daytime, public access television.

Ouch, I played that scene, I think it can be considered 'artistic' in its own way, and it definitely contributes to the story, besides since when is it marketed to minors? do they say "OOH KIDS! BUY THIS!!" or is it marketed as an RPG game which contains scenes of graphic violence and semi graphic nudity?

well, if you click the article and scroll down, theres a "write the editor about this article" i erge everybody that finds the article ignorent to drop said editor an email

what rating is this game? its an M by ESRB, and an 18 by PEGI.
i think that this article is irrelevant. this game isn't marketed at minors, and any responsible parent would consider carefully before letting a child play this game.

While I can't defend their indefensible position - that clip was tame compared to a lot of things on basic cable (no pay channels) - I wouldn't want my kid to see it. But then, that's why I restrict what games he plays and what sites he has access to on the net (at least at home). Hell the commercials for KY 'personal lubricant' is almost as explicit as this clip.

Oh great. Another moron who fails to read the ESRB rating. Mass Effect is rated M, and any parent who buys this for their under 17 kid is clearly fucked in the head, same as if they bought GTA, Halo, Gears of War, Bioshock, etc.

Lacking artist value...

Just how many games handle this kind of situation this tastefully? Or for that matter, AT ALL?

I can't even consider that partial nudity! You can't even tell what you're supposed to be seeing here.

You want gratuitous sex in a video game? Play your cards right in Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecies for you Yanks) and you get two or three sex scenes, including one that you use the controller in. Of course, I think it was cut in the American version but still, this is like the foreplay to that scene.

I was waiting for the sex to start. There was no real nudity!

That's about on par with a PG-13 movie's love scene. A glimpse of ass cheek, a panning over the curve of the back, and all done in shadows, and it's all over in under a minute. Hell, there are PG-13 movies that are more explicit than this in their depictions of love scenes.

Besides that, how much longer are these shills going to pretend that the ESRB rating doesn't exist on the box?

I'll be glad when people finally start leaving the job of parenting to the parents.

*what was going through the mind of the author of this misinformed article at the time*

"this game is bad, I can't play it right, I must be doing something wrong OHMYGODBLUEBOOBIES! I can get them in trouble for this, that will show bioware for making games that I suck on!"

or not...

Who died and gave this guy the right to define the "Proper Context of Heterosexuality" or the proper context of any sexuality or marriage.. or any of the other completely absurb crap this guy is spouting?

I can see plenty of "implied", but no explicit there.

I'd like to agree with everyone else and say I've seen worse on broadcast television.

Conservatives need to QQ more.

That was explicitly unsexy. Every movement just looked awkward, and it looks like careful pains were taken to make it as demure as possible for such a scene.

Clearly marketed to minors?
1) ESRB rating
2) The word "game" does not exclusively mean "for children". You wouldn't get that stupid over the use of the word in reference to gambling, nor if "drinking games" were mentioned, so why here? Grow up.

If that is deemed explicit, I hope they dont watch any intro to James Bond movies...

Blood, Language,
Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes,
Violence

" The game is “clearly marketed to minors,” Cathy Ruse, a lawyer and senior fellow for legal studies at the Family Research Council, told Cybercast News Service.

“There are cultural implications for feeding porn to kids in this way,” …Ruse said."

Its being marketed to minors? Oh yeah, every video is marketed to minors because video games are for kids. Duhhh. *Rolls eyes*

"Most states have what’s called ‘Harmful to Minors’ laws on the books that say that selling sexual material that a jury would deem ‘patently offensive to minors, which lacks literary, artistic, political or scientific value.’ … might be prosecutable."

I don't think a minor can buy Mass Effect.


And yeah, that video clip is something that should be expected from a game that is rated "M". Sorry, but when I hear\see "Rated M for mature" how is it marketed towards minors? If the parents are going to let a game like this into their house, that's their own problem. End of story.

Also, can I ask anyone here if they have ever seen ANYONE (including Jack) offer any evidence or even the illusion of evidence that any of these games are "marketed towards children"? Has anyone ever seen any adverts where they dumb it down for 10 year olds or "free in your box of wheetos, a free naked blue alien fem"? This sentence just seems to get wheeled out every single time they want to complain about a game without any hint of proof or context.

It's just too bad that almost everything they said is a complete lie. There is no "full digital nudity". The most you see is a bare ass and that's it. It shows nothing else at all, no breasts or genitalia. So they're lying out of their asses.

Also "clearly marketed to children"? What the hell? The person make these claims seriously needs a punch in the mouth for just being lying piece of garbage.

It would be nice if these assholes with the word "research" in their group's name would actually do, you know, research.

I read the word conservative in the first line and said to myself, "do I really need to read this this early in the morning". I did read the article and anyone who has played the game can tell you everything they say is an outright lie. Defending against people like this is impossible as they have a lot of mindless followers who believe anything their masters tell them.

@Ken

I let my 13-year-old play *selected* M-rated games. I'm fucked in the head? I've raised the kid, I know the kid, and I understand what he can handle and what he can't (we've watched films like "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List" together). The rating system by the ESRB is a *guideline* and particularly useful for non-gaming parents. For those of us who DO game, however, it's just a starting point. Why is the game rated M? For shooting zombies in the head or electrocuting genetically mutated crazies? Since there are no zombies, and he's never likely to be able to electrocute anyone (crazy or not) by merely pointing his hand at them, and he realizes this, I don't think I've got a whole lot to worry about. Perhaps I should make him drop his marital arts class as well? This is a kid who let himself get get "shot" during a game of laser tag so he could go help a 6-year-old pick up a handful of tokens he'd dropped and reads to his baby brother every day.

I'm not being defensive, just making a point. Because my young son plays the occasional M-rated game doesn't make me a bad parent any more than it turns him into a violence-prone degenerate.

Oh, and as for the clip - the damn thing is so dark you can barely see what's going on. Of course, this is out of context too - I'm sure if you know the story, you know what's going on. Would I let him play Mass Effect? No, if for no other reason than we don't have a 360. If we did, though, I'd ask his 25-year-old brother if HE thought it was appropriate (and he's often more strict than I am about these things - he advised me to wait till the kid is at least 14 before I let him watch "Akira.").

Meh.

Rated "M" for Minor, apparently...

Bob Waliszewki is a reviewer from PluggedInOnline, which GP does report as a media branch of Focus On the Family, which is an -extremely- right wing political/religious organization that frequently attacks homosexuals and whatever political opponents they have. James Dobson (the head of Focus) makes Rupert Murdoch seem progressive.

The fact this article quotes him shows how off base or fanatical he is. Just look at www.pluggedinonline.com and see how they review movies, music, and games. They even had an article once that was titled "Halo 2: Save the world; lose your soul." The actual article wasn't as crazy as the title implies, but that's the public base they appeal to. Also, their music reviews can be borderline racist when they review rap (in the fact it seems the reviewer is more vitriolic than when he reviews Manson), and in movies anything morally short of veggietales is deemed unacceptable.

Sorry, I'll stop ranting about this particular organization. It just incensed me when I read the name as some sort of moral authority. I'll just end with this: Post-9/11, they still have more anti homosexual articles than terrorist ones.

Aye carumba. They're idiots. Plain and simple. They're idiots.

Mass Effect is an awesome game, too. There's nothing "explicit" in the game, it's rated M, and it's not marketed to minors.

These morons are being led by Brent Bozell, a man who feels the need to lie and spread FUD to push his social/religious views on us. We all know the PTC is like this, as are any other organization he runs.

And I've seen worse in a Bond movie. But right, Bond blasts those evil atheist commies. My mistake.

@ Thomas P.

"Conservatives need to QQ more."

Okay, broad, sweeping generalizations don't help anywhere. I happen to be a conservative and a republican (not really interested if anyone likes that or not), but I happen to disagree with just about everything the article author wrote (his general sentence structure was okay, I can agree with that). He is a moron, one that is even more zealously pathetic than Jack Thompson - at least Jack knows violence when he sees it, this guy can't recognize 'full nudity'.

wow. lie after lie after lie after lie, mixed in with a good dose of over-exaggeration, of course. when are these idiots going to start following the values they preach at the top of their lungs so very often and actually start telling the TRUTH?

Isn't there already a section of the population dedicated to keeping "harmful to minors" content away from minors? I think some people call them parents.

How I wish I lived in a state so I could email this poory informed indivdual of ALL of his errors and to tell him to check his "experts" carefully since anyone who's seen the preview knows its choice-based and NOT SUITED FOR KIDS ("oh please anybody save us", "ignore it") even never playing Mass effect I can tell in the case of this clip only, there's no "explict" nudity "strongly implied" yes, but not explict its not even there for longer than second. Also where does this go get off saying that homosexuality is bad or you have to be married for sex I don't care if your the most chrsitain person on the planet in an article keep your damn opinions to yourself I accept heteros have sex before marriage and if acceptance or tolerance of "evil" is "evil" god is "evil" because of Job "god" sat back and watched the devil toutre his most devote worshipper and DID NOTHING thats tolerance, therefore "evil". Well at least I got a good humor piece and if this goes anywhere, and it likely won't" the ESRB and company did what they had to its the retailers who chose to sell it to a minor, assuming there was such a case, in the first place making the burden of blame fall on that retailer rather than the game company.

Have they ever explained how they came to believe that it's marketed to minors, or is this the new catchall quote whenever something is released that they don't agree with, even if it's been given an appropriate rating?

I will be satified if:

a) Bioware sue them for libel

b) they sure bioware for the nudity, which is practically an unwinable case (the scene can easily be seen as artistic)

I sent the following to the editor:

Hello
Your article “Sex in Video Game Makes Waves Through Industry”, is apparently attempting to point out that sexuality is now making its way into games.
First let me start by saying that I am a 32 year old father of 3 (like the demographics of current gamers in your article). Gaming has been my hobby since the introduction of the Atari 2600. As I have grown the market has grown with me to offer games to adults who have stayed with the hobby over the years. Games have introduced more mature subject matter (like graduating from cartoons as a kid to more serious films as an adult). These games are clearly rated as M for Mature and as such is not marketed to minors (as claimed in your article) as this rating indicates it is for those 17 and older.
Now specifically to Mass Effect (which is far from the first game to have sexuality in it), you do state the game’s rating as being M, therefore it is meant for a mature customer base. But you continue to characterize it as being targeted to children throughout the piece, while at the same time admitting that “the average game player is 33 years old and has been playing games for 12 years”. What you don’t mention is how small of a percentage M rated games are as compared to games rated Teen and lower.
I own Mass Effect I have played through it and have seen the love scene (which is totally optional and avoidable). And that is how I would describe it as a “Love Scene” because it is certainly not “explicitly graphic sexual intercourse” or “graphic sexual material“. Those statements are false which makes me wonder if you have even played the game. The scene is the equivalent of a PG or perhaps PG-13 love scene in films from the 1980’s. I agree that it is inappropriate for children, that’s why I don’t allow my children to see it. It’s not for them anyway. But for it to be said that “They (Bioware) don't care about what they're doing to kids” and that “They're making money at the expense of children in America” is reprehensible. The game is made for adults, it’s like saying wine makers don’t care about underage drinking. So what now, I can’t have a glass of wine, I can’t have other things tailored to my age because some child might get a hold of it?
You need to look at the real customers for videogames today and stop looking at games as toys for children and start looking at them as entertainment like films. They have grown. They are called games because they are interactive, not because they are for children. Perhaps then there will no longer be this reflexive over reaction in the future.

"As part of that story, the playable character can become romantically involved with a woman, if playing as the default male character; a man, if playing as a woman; and an alien that looks and talks like a woman, for any play-through."

They should spend less time watching FULL DIGITAL PORN and more time learning to write properly.

Actually. I'd love toseethis get before a jury. They'd show the video, then show clips from nearly every Quasi-romantic movie or television show.

Personally, though, I'd also love to point out that nothing rated M is "Marketed to minors". It's Marketed to adults, and minors just happen to look at the Marketing.

So then, to them: Shut the hell up and find a new media to bash you misanthropic imbeciles.

M rated game... marketed towards children. What's next, shit you see on prime-time TV will be considered porn when it's in a Video Game? Shit...

Technically, the listed video isn't lesbian, since the Asari are hermaphrodites. I may have missed it, but I don't remember seeing the words marriage, wife, husband, spouse, or fiance in the entire game, so the universe may not have had the concept of marriage, but instead the people just mate for life if they so choose. I know that if you choose the Asari romance path that there is actually talk of waiting to have sex. It isn't like your character can just walk around have sex with whomever he feels like at any given time if he has enough points in charm or intimidate. The thing that I was more leary of was the fact that if you help the Asari consort, who is effectively an extremely high-class prostitute, you automatically have sex with him/her instead of having the option to just say "No thanks."

This reminds me of a book I read called 'The rise of political lying' which deals with the "exponential rise of political falsehood during the Major and Blair governments".
In one chapter he talks about the christian right and it's unlikely marriage with postmodernism; the emphasis on creating a 'narrative' than actual truth.

Really, anyone here who is arguing that the facts are wrong is missing the point...
It's not about the truth, it's about the story. It could be an innocent disney game that supposedly had full-frontal nudity, it doesn't matter. It's all about constructing the reality they want to construct.

It reminds me of that famous quote from one of Bush's aides:
"[you're] in what we call the reality-based community... we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

@ Milk and Cookies

John Bruce isn't any better. He was the one who claimed that Bully contained homosexual sex. The most sexual content is a kiss between boys.

It's not even homosexual! The blue Asari are a Monogender race, and your only other option for the romantic subplot is someone of your gender.

Though I honestly wouldn't be surprised if they learn that fact and try to pass it off as inter-species sex instead...

"Mass Effect teaches children to have sex with bears!"

@steven

It doesn't change the fact that manipulative twits like them - Bush's aides and Cathy Ruse - deserve to be exposed for being the big liars they are.

A lie is a lie - they're just making excuses for their actions. Actions that should be punished with brutal intensity.

This is rated M. M means mature. Mature means 17+ or older to buy. HOW THE HELL DOES AN ELEVEN YEAR OLD GET THIS AS A KIDS GAME? HOW. THE. HELL!!!

First off I would like to say that most extremely religious people are morons, Second, Mass Effect probably blows most religious extremests out of the water. If they took a look at the package and realized "hey this is not what I wanted so I'll put it down instead of buying it for my ten year old" then things would be in order.

How is that graphic there wasn't even any side-boob.

Lets see...

1) Claiming an "M" rated is market towards minors, thus stereotyping all video games as kid stuff.

2) Grossly exaggerating the actual game content to make it seem controversial. (i.e: "Explicity Graphic Sexual Intercourse")

3) A minor detail, but they left out how the game got un-banned in Singapore after a day

4) Demonization of a video game company "BIOWARE IS OUT TO MAKE MONEY NOT CARING THAT THEY MENTALLY SCREW CHILDREN"

5) An undertone of fear against homosexuality (which if you think about it, contradicts the article's initial charge of "sexual intercourse")

6) Conservative source.

We have a winner!

Don't let this fool you, guys. This is just a part of the Religious Right (I include Focus on the Family in that group) playbook. First movement is to make a sensationalistic story, such as "sex" in video games. Second movement is to declare it a threat to our children, such as "marketed at children." Third is to invite people to sign up for their web feeds, e-mail newsletters, etc. to keep informed on this and other topics. Fourth is to spam their e-mail address asking for donations over and over and over again "to protect America and children everywhere."

Seriously, this is the exact same thing that the Religious Right did with homosexuality. It's different, thus is must be wrong, cherry pick six verses from scripture that might refer to homosexuality, ignoring the rest, and declare homosexuality a threat and if you really want to stop it you'll tithe half your income to our organization.

Because James Dobson really needs a new boat. That's what I got out of the article. You guys?

@twin-skies
yeah, but the argument is that picking holes in their stories doesn't ever seem to do them any damage and often simply reinforces the belief of those who are taken in by their 'narrative'.

i wasn't saying that they should be left to their own devices but simply attempting to understand their mindset when they talk such utter bullshit. it's hard to fight the irrational with rationality which is what most people try to do.

They're just busy spinning their reality with all it's moral outrage and don't really care whether it's true or not or whether a minority might know they're lying. After all pointing out that the game is an M just seems to most people like arguing-the-toss over what colour jumper someone was wearing yesterday, especially when there's the more important issue of the corrosion of family values to worry about.

at the end of the day, people lose count of how many stories they hear about morally-corrupt games. and they also lose count of how many proved to be storms-in-a-teacup. and that means their winning (lies or otherwise)

you can't fight that by arguing over the details.
the industry needs to come up with it's own stories to feed the public :)

@ Waffles
"3) A minor detail, but they left out how the game got un-banned in Singapore after a day"

They did mention it was unbanned with the sentance "The game is rated "M" for mature, as are many video games, and was banned in Singapore last year, though the decision was later reversed"

Another losing battle has begun.

"Explicitly graphic"? Are these people fucking serious?

All you see is some kissing and a couple asses. You don't even see any tits.

Has anyone seen some of the sex scenes in film these days? You can show thrusting, moaning, breasts, even genitals in some cases. Funny how they're not complaining about that.
 
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