Fox News is warning parents about the impending release of Bulletstorm in a report alleging that videogames are actually responsible for an increase in the incidence of rape. (No, I am not making this up.)
In all fairness, Bulletstorm is not the poster child for videogames that don’t make parents nervous. The new shooter from People Can Fly and Epic bills itself as the only game in which you can blow off a man’s bunghole, after all. Shockingly, that’s what caught the attention of Fox News, which is warning parents that the game’s “Skill Shots,” with names like “Topless” and “Gang Bang,” conflate extreme violence with explicit sex acts that its experts say can cause serious damage to young minds.
“If a younger kid experiences Bulletstorm’s explicit language and violence, the damage could be significant,” said Dr. Jerry Weichman of the Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Southern California. “Violent videogames like Bulletstorm have the potential to send the message that violence and insults with sexual innuendos are the way to handle disputes and problems.”
And if that’s not alarmist enough for you, psychologist and author Carol Lieberman took it one step further, directly blaming videogames for a rise in sexual violence. “The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in videogames,” she said.
That’s right: The incidence of rape is going up and it’s all the fault of videogames. The game industry is complicit, according to the report, because of its insistence on the same First Amendment rights enjoyed by other media, which it uses as a smokescreen to sell its products to kids.
“The marketing is clearly aimed at children and young adolescents,” said Professor Melanie Killen of the University of Maryland. She claimed that the ESRB is a failure because there is no enforcement of ratings, noting that while the FCC monitors television broadcasts and levies fines against those who violate decency regulations, there are no such penalties for selling violent games to kids.
“Politicians were organizing efforts to address violent videogames prior to the presidential election but got distracted by the election,” she added. “It is time for senators and representatives to come back to the issue.”
Of course, the truth is that the ESRB can impose fines of up to $1 million on publishers who jerk their ratings process around, but it’s probably not reasonable to expect Fox to let facts get in the way of a good story. Like, say, the fact that FBI statistics show that the rate of forcible rape has actually declined over the past two decades (along with virtually all other violent crime rates) or that FTC studies have repeatedly shown that videogame ratings have a significantly higher rate of compliance than any other entertainment medium on the market. None of these facts are in question, yet Fox continues to ignore them. Is it just making this stuff up as it goes?
In other news, Bill O’Reilly still isn’t sure where the moon came from.