Fox News Smears Mass Effect

Like a bad penny, allegations that highly-regarded Xbox 360 title Mass Effect is porn disguised as a video game keep turning up.

The smear campaign crossed over to the mainstream yesterday with a Fox News report which aired on the network’s Live Desk program.

Talking head Martha MacCallum hosted the segment, which featured a brief, tense debate between talk show host/author Cooper Lawrence and Spike TV game guy Geoff Keighley. While Keighley did a commendable job defending the game, right from the start it was clear that Mass Effect was in for a beat-down. As the segment opened, a Fox News graphic read:

“Se”Xbox? New Video Game Shows Full Digital Nudity and Sex

MacCallum: …a new role-playing video game that is leaving NOTHING to the imagination… in some parts of this, you’ll see full digital nudity. Imagine! And the ability for the players to engage in graphic sex and the person who’s playing the game gets to decide exactly what’s going to happen between the two people, if you know what I mean… Basically, Pandora’s Box is open. I mean, kids have access to these things… How damaging is it, really?

Lawrence: …the damage is this. We know that all the research shows that violence has a desensitizing effect. Well, sexuality does too… Here’s how they’re seeing women. They’re seeing them as these objects of desire, as these hot bodies. They don’t show women as being valued for anything other than their sexuality. And it’s a man in this game deciding how many women he wants to be with.

Keighley: That’s completely incorrect… first of all you can actually play as a man or a woman in the game. Cooper, have you ever played Mass Effect?

Lawrence: (giggling) No…

Keighley: …you mentioned it has full graphical nudity, that’s completely incorrect. There’s no full nudity… there’s the side of an alien boob… it’s a small sexual situation in this game which is about two minutes out of a thirty-plus hour experience… you can actually play through this game without the sexual situation ever happening –

Lawrence: (interrupting) Right, and a young boy’s going to be choosing not to have sex. That’ll be what they choose. I mean, let’s be realistic here –

Keighley: Cooper, it’s not a simple choice. You don’t turn on the game and it says, “would you like to have sex or not?” It’s through the evolution of a relationship with characters and the fact that this game has incredible artificial intelligence. You can actually fall in love in this game. It’s just like modeling your life…

Lawrence: (interrupting) Darling, I gotta go with the research. And the research says there’s a new study out of the University of Maryland right now that says that boys that play video games cannot tell the difference between what they’re seeing in the video game and the real world…

Keighley: You’re completely misrepresenting the game…

Lawrence: Let me at him, Martha…

Keighley: It’s a fantastic game and sex is a small, little part of it.

MacCallum: You know when you buy video games… you have to pick up the box and look at the back for the rating and you have to be involved in what your kids are looking at…

Male Panelist: Who can argue, possibly, that Luke Skywalker meets Debbie Does Dallas is a good thing? It’s not. And I’m definitely not going to let Mass Effect in my house…

Female Panelist: I’m not sure why it didn’t get an Adults Only rating. That’s the highest rating it can have. So, first of all, this board that rates them needs to have their head examined…

2nd Male Panelist: I would argue that the government can not and should not censor everything coming across the web and in video games. At the end of the day… it’s up to parents to control what their kids are seeing.

GP: Another disgraceful game bashing from Fox…

GamePolitics has previously demonstrated how shoddily some of these reports are thrown together (see: How Fox Morning Show Sensationalized the Halo-in-Church Issue). Nor are gamers likely to forget Fox’s allowing Jack Thompson air time to bash video games while the Virginia Tech massacre was unfolding.

As for Cooper Lawrence’s expertise with video game issues? It’s apparently nonexistent. She is the author of several books – on dating: The Cult of Perfection: Making Peace with Your Inner Overachiever; Been There, Done That, Kept the Jewelry; The Fixer-upper Man: Turn Mr. Maybe into Mr. Right in 5 Easy Steps; and the unforgettable Cosmo Girl’s Quiz Book: All About Guys.

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