MTV Talks to Cooper Lawrence & GP Asks: Is it Time for Gamers to Forgive?

January 31, 2008 -
Stephen Totilo at MTV News has new comments from self-help author Cooper Lawrence, who likely needs no introduction to gamers following 10 days of nonstop coverage of the Fox News / Mass Effect debacle.

Lawrence's remarks, issued in a statement to MTV, were mostly conciliatory, although she dug her heels in on a couple of points:
In hindsight, I would have liked to have had the opportunity to play this game before appearing on the program. As a developmental-psychology expert, I was asked to appear on this particular show to discuss the broader issue of video games and their impact on developing adolescents, not as an expert on 'Mass Effect...'

I firmly stand by the research I cited that violence and sexual content in video games has a desensitizing effect on young developing minds.

Lawrence also criticized gamers' guerrilla use of Amazon.com's review feature to trash her book:
I believe that the customer-review feature on Amazon.com is not the appropriate forum to discuss an unrelated news segment. I appeared on a news program that provides an opportunity for debate on topics that have been previously covered by the media. Amazon's customer-reviews feature functions as a platform to review a product sold on their site, in this case my book, the topic of which does not relate to video games and/or 'Mass Effect.'

Previously, in an interview with Seth Schiesel of the New York Times, Lawrence said:
I recognize that I misspoke. I really regret saying that, and now that I’ve seen the game and seen the sex scenes it’s kind of a joke.

Before the show I had asked somebody about what they had heard, and they had said it’s like pornography. But it’s not like pornography. I’ve seen episodes of ‘Lost’ that are more sexually explicit.

GamePolitics Poll: While Fox News rides out the Mass Effect storm unapologetically, Cooper Lawrence has borne the brunt of gamers' wrath.

Given that she has owned up to making inaccurate comments about Mass Effect, our latest GamePolitics poll asks whether it is time for gamers to forgive Cooper Lawrence.

The poll is located atop the right sidebar.

Be sure to vote!

Comments

If she has that little credibility when appearing LIVE on a nationally syndicated news program, how credible can her book be really? Be interesting to see the footnotes (if there are any) in her books to see what studies she cites and whether any of them are worth even half a look.

Until then I hesitate to grant her the title expert on anything, other than at professionally bullshitting everyone.

I voted forgive. She came clean and admitted her mistake. She admitted she had been led by FOX news, whose information should have been suspect to begin with, basing her statements on information that had been given to her by them.

I for one didn't condone the bookstorming of her site or the things some people said and I didn't participate in it. I felt there were better ways to address the issue with her. So in a way, I kind of understood where she was coming from on that.

Personally I would have rather had to just simply have a nice conversation with her one on one, preferably over dinner (Even if I may disagree with her, she's not an unattractive woman! Though I probably wouldn't stand much of a chance of scoring with her and she'd probably accuse me of being a womanizer!). Still, I think that would help her realize that not all gamers are uncouth and immature and that quite a few of us are polite and well-spoken.

Still like others have said, just because I forgive doesn't mean I won't forget.

I say and voted yes. It's time to forgive those who, while they have not said "I'm sorry" have repented. She was wrong, she was called on it, and she has admitted that she was wrong. Therefore, she should be forgiven.

@Michael Papadopoulos

She never apologized, she just said she "misspoke" and that she regretted saying it. That's not an apology. Not to mention her attitude (which she seems to continue to have) and other statements she made during that interview.

I would have to say that we should forgive, but that is my religious belief. I was taught that when a person appologizes, we should forgive them. We are als otaught that we are to forgive even if they don't appologize.

Now this is not to say that they are without their limits. For the same offense fro mteh same person, we are to forgive 70 times 7 times if they appologize. For the same offense by the same person without an appology, it is only7. But that is only if the offense was with malice. If a person offends you but they do not know it, they should be forgiven every time else the sin is on your head.

Not to be preachy, but just to explain why I voted yes.

I think she got soft after making multiple appearances on a variety of news shows and never stirring up so much as a ripple in the pond of public opinion. I wish more people would take the time to get uppity about unresearched opinions on subjects they care about, so that the likes of us wouldn't seem like "those crazy video gamers" all the time.
---
Fangamer

I voted yes. She admitted her faults and I give her that

I also agree with that the Amazon book reviews WASN'T the right place to debate this. A simple email could have easily done this.

One thing I found awful about some commenter is that while Lawrence was mistaken in her statement, she takes the full blame while none complained or attacked Fox News. While she was at fault for giving statements without doing research, she DOES NOT deserve the full blame.

Glad someone shares my views, Soldatlouis.

Gamers are by far the most well-organized, single-minded, and vicious group of internet dwellers anyone could ever make the mistake of crossing.

In the words of the soul of the internet...

"Anonymous is legion. Anonymous does not forgive. Anonymous does not forget."

What she got wasn't even the worst of what Gamers could've done. I'm just glad that no one has started tossing out death-threats, as is so common when it comes to JT.

Admittedly, this is a strange way to deal with the media attackers, and the social stigma that gamers are still battling, but it's very effective. I believe more and more people who were dumb enough to mouth off about things they don't understand, or care to learn about, are starting to realize that you don't do it to gamers. They will destroy you, your credibility, and anything you had that could be considered sanity.

Maybe it's just me, but I found the Amazon reviews to be mild retaliation. When I heard about gamers fighting back, I was expecting DDoS attacks and horse porn, not bad book reviews.

@Trails: She implies that she was asked to appear in her capacity as a developmental psychologist and talk about the effect of sex and violence on adolescents, and wasn't aware that the segment would focus exclusively on Mass Effect.
That does in fact make a great deal of sense. Fox tells her that there's a game that adolescents can obtain that contains graphic sex. She spoke against said game. It's what she would do, what she was basically asked to do, and I certainly can't fault her on it. I imagine a lot of people (myself included) would condemn the practice of selling sexually explicit video games to children; fortunately, no one's doing that right now.

I believe she should be forgiven, yes. In fact I think the fact that games assaulted her book's Amazon page was entirely unnecessary, and only served to speed up the damage control she would've inevitably performed anyhow.

Would like to hear an "I'm sorry" from Fox News though.

I don't think gamers faulted her for standing by her research, they faulted her by her ignorance to Mass Effect and the situation at hand. Now that she knows and acknowledges the truth about the sex scene in Mass Effect, it should be forgiven.

Fox News should still be chastised for their stupidity, though.

For those who are curious about the study:

http://writergarage.wordpress.com/2008/01/22/confusing-fantasy-with-real...

Forgive me if I bork something with

[quote]
This study didn’t involve thousands of young children. It didn’t even involve “real life experience” or even if they knew the difference between real life and fantasy. The Washington Post, in their story Students See Video Games As Harmless, Study Finds is more accurate, but not much more. The post still sensationalizes the issue by claiming that 14-year olds, who are filled with wrath, consider themselves “immune to mayhem.”
[/quote]

Also from the professor who performed the study:

http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/its_not_just_a_game/

So, with that in mind, I vote no. Her "research" in to the harmful effects of video games totals one study of 100 college students, by an obviously biased researcher, that proves little to no scientific basis to make statements about the effects of games in either the short term or long term.

Yes, she misspoke. But remember that she was only one passenger on the huge lie train that was the Mass Effect scandal. We should really be blaming the Cybercast News Service, Fox News, the Family Research Council, and Kevin McCullough. They're the ones wholly responsible for this whole mess, while Lawrence was only a guest on Faux's Panel of Experts.

Why should she be forgiven? She's still spouting the blatantly false and patently stupid idea that violence and sexual content in games is somehow mentally damaging to kids.

Now that I've read the whole MTV segment, I question her "research". Just because somebody is more willing to accept a stereotype in game does not mean they are blurring the line between the game and real life. Correlation does not equal causation, and even if the study as a whole was true (doubtful, given the research methods we've seen in the past) that wouldn't mean that the gamers are being "desensivitized".

Forgive her if she goes back on Fox News and admits there she screwed up. All this back talk on other news sites, mostly game related, doesn't reach the same audience her original claims went out to.

@point09micron

We should forgive because we need to show our detractors that we will forgive them if they admit they are wrong. If we don't, then we back them into a corner that they will eventually try to lash out of. If we forgive, it puts us in a better light.

that hardly counts as owning up to making inaccurate comments about Mass Effect

I say dont forgive her...how can videogamers gain respect if we let people get off with trashing our shit as long as they say sorry. Sorry dosen't cut it with me and it shouldn't cut it with any of you! Shes done her damage her sorry repairs zero percent of that damage and by letting up on it we let her walk to bash us another day. We should not stop until we put a decent dent in her career that way she might be a bit more reluctant before she lies again for personal gain.

I hate to say it but its videogamers willingness to forgive that makes us a soft target.

Hell the videogame community is doing something brand new by standing up as much as we have...but i say we make an example of fox and cooper and hit them as hard as possible (not exactly the fairest thing, but it might get a few people to piss off)

@MonkeyFace

We need a better target than Fox news.

Do not forgive, do not forget.

She's forgiven. I'm just happy she admitted to her ignorance.

Now can we go and do something about the real culprit - Faux News?

Something tells me that through all of this, Jack Thompson is behind these acts! Conspiracy I say!

Seriously, I think that this is really the first time that gamers have politically come together against the media itself.

"I believe that the customer-review feature on Amazon.com is not the appropriate forum to discuss an unrelated news segment. "
I can't think of a more appropriate place to show her EXACTLY what she did to gamers, and BioWare.

"I appeared on a news program that provides an opportunity for debate on topics that have been previously covered by the media."
HA! Debate? Calling Fox News a forum for debate, is like calling a spitting contest an Olympic sport.

I voted No. As far as I'm concerned gamers and game companies need to viscously defend themselves, Fox News and other 'authorities' have taken it upon themselves to tell everyone else what's right, and what's wrong. They can go to hell if they think we're going to sit here and accept their perverted judgment, I say down with anyone who thinks they can coerce ANYONE into conforming to their twisted flavor of hypo critic morality.

Of course I don't like or agree with the amount of stupid aggrivation that the lesser intelligent of us (the people who have been spamming stuff like "omgz dis wman iz stoopid she sux" on Amazon) have been throwing at her. But I still think it was a stupid thing to do, to go on TV a spout her assumptions and uninformed negative views on a game she'd probably never heard of. To go on FOX and not even do your research to go on as if you're an authority of the gaming industry, rather than just stand up and admit "I know nothing about this game (or the industry), but..." and maybe bring in something she DID know, is stupid. For that reason, for her disturbing idiocy, I don't think she should quite be forgived.

I say we forgive her. Just don't forget what she has said or done. She could have easily done a 5 minute search on the web to view the sex scene, or looked up the game's review on various web sites to see just what the game was about. She's an idiot, but even they can learn if you beat the truth into them.

As far as the Amazon ratings of her book, I approve of what they did. She deserved no better. I guess she sees how much it hurts to have people who haven't even looked at your work condemning it. But I think she got the message, so there's no more need to keep "reviewing" her book.

"I believe that the customer-review feature on Amazon.com is not the appropriate forum to discuss an unrelated news segment."

I think its the perfect forum because she would have apologized for her comments mis-informed or not. And I think we should cut her some slack, but not think twice about doing something like this again if the situation arises.

Lets face it, most gamers are very internet suave and we need to show people that we are tired of Politicians, Parent Groups, and New Media constantly stepping on our necks in their quest to find a scapegoat that answers their question of why people are so f'd up in the head. *BUT* we really need to stop with the death threats, and racist/sexist/idiotic crap. Unfortunately gamers can't chose who is also in the group, but we need to show that there are MATURE people who care about their favorite past time and will protect it.

The problem isn't just with Lawrence. The problem is with media as a whole, recently. This is just standard practice for cable TV shows: pick talking heads, claim them to be experts, toss them into the arena without thought of whether they are truly experts in the field or know a damn thing about it. It's tabloid reporting and it has become the norm in TV "journalism."

Here's the thing. So, we have this minor scrap over video games. Yes, we're all upset and angered that they are passing off this terrific game as pornography. But, once you hear what Lawrence said in explanation for her ignorance, it's actually really chilling: "Before the show I had asked somebody about what they had heard, and they had said it’s like pornography."

It makes you wonder what other "experts" are being used to discuss actually important issues plaguing the world at large and not focused on our past time.

As per the poll, is it time to forgive or not...it doesn't matter. The harm's done. Everyone who saw that program has it in their mind that Mass Effect = porn. It doesn't matter what Lawrence is saying [i]to other media that's not Fox[/i] because the harm's done, for one, and for two, chances are those who are influenced by Fox aren't looking at the New York Times.

It's despicable. And while forgiving Lawrence is one thing, she's really a pawn in the problem.

On forgiveness... forgive might be the wrong word to use, but she SHOULD be rewarded for admitting her mistake. America has a rather strong culture of 'never admit you were wrong! it is a sign of weakness!' that causes people to dig in and never say they were incorrect...... so rewarding someone willing to buck that behavior is a positive thing.

On amazon... I think the amazon feedback system was absolutly the right medium for this. When you have someone preforming actions that effect others (but do not hurt them or things they care about) the best way to get them to THINK about what they did it flip things and cause thier actions to effect something they DO care about.

Sending letters, comments, etc, would be pointless. This is someone who cares about their career and revenues. We don't have the clout to tell Fox 'slap her around or we boycott your advertizer's products', but we CAN effect her own bottom line.

Now she ignored a perfect opportunity to actually apologize to gamers. Insead she sticks to her unnamed 'research' bullshit. Moreover she DID spead about Mass Effect like an expert in the matter and she obviously enjoyed it at the time.

She's digging in now.

@The Borderer

By that does that mean there's a likely chance that Cooper Lawrence is a man?

There's nothing forgivable in what she did.

She calls someone a "darling" on live (?) TV when she's asked whether she played the game. The implication there is that she sees video games and playing them beneath her and something only "darlings" do. She still has not apologized for that.

But the most serious issue I have with her is that she goes on a TV show as an expert when she CLEARLY has done no research on the issue, is not an expert on the issue and is just talking out of her ass.

I'm not going to forgive her unless she addresses those two points to my satisfaction. I am, however, giving her that she has an unusually open mind towards owning up to her mistakes. A lot of the experts-in-their-own-minds types have a real problem ever admitting they could be wrong.

She kinda owned up, but she still isn't fully admitting it. She's kinda trying to apologize while defending herself. Still calling what happened a debate and all. She might wanna say something about Fox News.

I was ready to forgive her untill i read this part

"I firmly stand by the research I cited that violence and sexual content in video games has a desensitizing effect on young developing minds."

Oh come on... how many thousands of times do we need to say "what research?" I have yet to see a single conclusive non-biased bit of research supporting this view.

So in short: Nice apology, you apologise then go on to quote very dodgy research as fact without checking it. Good way to dig yourself back into the hole you previously made.

Apology denied

Im sorry Miss Lawrence but i still have yet to see an appology from you.
Although im not a big fan of absoultly spamming her work with poor scores, people have to realise that before you can cast judgement over something you have to at least have some knowledge about it.

Is it so disturbing to see alien sideboob (A quote from a friend of mine).

Until Miss Lawrence can be forgiven by the gaming community she first has to offer the community a proper appology, and not a half-baked, i mispoke but im right anyway.

Terry Mesnard: It’s despicable. And while forgiving Lawrence is one thing, she’s really a pawn in the problem.

This is true...but if enough pawns get burnt they might stop marching forward without a thought as to why they're doing it.

Neeneko: but we CAN effect her own bottom line.
And this is how we get those pawns to think about their actions before they say or do something stupid.

Many others have alluded to this, but let me state it plainly - her apology is not sincere. To believe otherwise is to ignore all the evidence about how she operates. She is only apologizing because she's taking a beating over the amamzon.com reviews. Hitting people like this in the wallet is really the only way to get their attention. If it weren't for the "bookstorming," you can bet she never would have apologized. You may disagree with that tactic, but it got results - moreso than any number of "this is unfair!" emails ever could. I don't believe she's truly sorry at all - remember, we're dealing with someone who's credibility is nil, and who will say just about anything to sell her crap and/or get some face time on TV.

It should be well noted that falsifying evidence normally ends careers. Why she deserves any speacial treatment is beyond me.

Wait a manute... Did anyone else notice that MTV News is responsibly clarifying mistakes made by network news? Isn't this a sign of the apocalypse?

The real blame goes to Fox Noise. Although Cooper was wrong about the game, it is not like she made up facts like Jacko does. She was fed the false statements by Fox.

Frankly at this point continuing to bother or even reference Cooper Lawrence is counter productive. She's been made a laughing stock for her ill-advised comments and for towing an idiot company line in order to promote a new book. But to further chase her down and bother her shows those who do so to be mean spirited and vengeful children.
Continuing to single her out sends the message that Fox can get away with this type of action because the community will maliciously single out the guests and do nothing to the show.
There will always be an idiot happy to stand up and trot out some soundbite garbage for crappy network news, the people who need to be educated are the networks themselves.

Not the appropriate forum? Oh, is Fox News going to let everyday gamers talk about this issue? Would this issue have gotten as much attention if gamers hadn't attacked the book?

No and no.

This wasn't a simple mistaken remark, it was pretty much flipping off gamers everywhere. I'm not about to forgive until I get something better than a simple appology. Maybe her hugging a guy dressed up as a popular video game icon...

I had originally voted 'yes'. I was going to say, She realizes her mistake,

But after reading the comments here I realize I might have chosen the wrong answer. Amazon.com was a great place to do that becuase of the situation. I could be called in as a 'expert' and say things about her book, even though I've never read it, based on what a friend told me in passing. She really has put this on herself. She has no one to blame but herself.

nightwng2000 made a lot of great points. Always intresting to see what he will say about the news items on this site. Things I sometimes overlook.

So, yeah, I agree with him. "No forgiving No forgetting.

- Warren Lewis

She gleefully took part in a smear campaign so she could get her face out there and, i'm assumeig, get paid as well. She attacked something without knowing anything about it, and she knows nothing about video games in general.

She does not have the expertise in the feilds she writes books on much less on an entire industry she has pretty much slandered.

She claims innocence.
=I=
Innocence Proves Nothing.

I do not beleive this woman is ready for forgiveness. It would only encourage her because there are no "long lasting effects" so long as you say "I'm sorry, kind of."

I forgive her for saying silly things about Mass Effect. She's still a fool for other views she expressed. Kids can't tell the difference between the vidya and reality? Under normal circumstances? Balderdash.

I forgave her for her Mass Effect comments, and I agree about the sesensitizing effects of violence in video games. What I disagree with, and have for some time and in various forums, is that desensitizing is bad.

A lot of the psychologists would like a world where evryone was sensitive, and a man wasn't afraid to cry if he was sad. We don't live in that world. Someone who is too sensitive will go crazy before they are 24. The real world hurts, it has rough spots and sharp corners. If you are sensitive you go through life bruised and bleeding.

If someone kicks down my door (again, but I wasn't home the first time) I would like to think I won't freeze up. I'd like to think that if it came down to it, and some guy is standing in my house threatening my family, and says "you don't have the balls to pull that trigger", that shortly thereafter he wouldn't have the balls to say that again (00 12 guage).

As for being desensitized to sexual content, too late, the mass media beat you too it decades ago. Take for example, Family Matters. No one even noticed that it was constantly refering to and showing minors in unsupervised "making out". Is this wrong? Well, according to the P-Sychologist (Animaniacs reference) yes, it's desensitizing. Would parents be upset if they walked into the living room and found their daughter "making out". Yes, I think they would. What was the political and mass media fall out from this constant reference... zero.

Have you ever had to do a study in college of sex in advertising? Have you noticed just how much of our advertising is based on sex? (This message brought to you by TAG Body Spray, You've been warned!) We are already desensitized to sex. And having a one character fall in love with another character over the course of what ammounts to several weeks and life or death situations, and then making the descision to "go all the way" before the final battle which not only they, but all life in the galaxy may die... well, that's not exactly the same as saying "Spray this on your body and many empty headed women will want to have wild sex with you."

Perhaps if she HAD played the game, she could determine if this game might present women in a better light. I feel it was a step in the right direction for everyone involved. It has women being some of the most powerful, important people in the game. Shows the entire galaxy being ruled by a consil of three, of which one is definitely a woman (I'm not sure how to tell if a Turian or Salarian is female). In fact, as you progress through the game, it is remarkably balance as far as gender, race, and species both in representation, power, and attitude.

Instead of trying to scare parents with how bad video games COULD be, why not play this game and rate it as how it would affect the 16-25 demoghaphic for which it is intended?

Forgive? Of course. Some people are taking this too far. But let's face it, that's what happens when you insult a group of people of ANY sort. There's always, ALWAYS, the few 'orthodox' members of that group that go completely over the top and spam hate mails to people even after a blatent apology. "An apology isn't enough! blah blah blah"

It's stupid.

@ nnanji
"Forgiveness is something that you earn."

I agree, if she wants us to forgive her, join ourside and fight the good fight with us, not against us.

Using her Amazon book page to trash her writings was a perfectly legitimate response. How else are people going to "debate" her? Television only goes one way and Fox News is not known for providing dissenting voices equal time.

She screwed up and now she's trying to play the victim. Every single sarcastic review of her book - especially the ones that say, "I didn't read it, but my opinion still counts because I say it does" - is a brilliant way to prove exactly how stupid Fox's show about games was. It's also a great warning to other so-called experts to do a little research before appearing on those shows to pimp a book.
 
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