There's a difference between innately and superficially inaccurate, however. With the latter, criticism can be constructive. For example, some critics took exception to the 2000 The X-Files episode "First-Person Shooter," saying the idea of a homicidal virtual reality game was farcically impossible, and deriding vague tech terminology like "search the wireframe" and the "scanning in" of character actors. They particularly criticized the portrayal of the male players as aggressive, immature nerds crying out absurd vernacular like "cyber-thugs" and "cooked meat," claiming the episode ignorantly portrayed all games as pandering to childish, masculine aggression.

Unlike Gamer, "First-Person Shooter" doesn't just play dumbly to the mainstream perception of gamers getting off on violence and depravity.

However, the episode isn't as ignorant as it seems to be. Actually, it's brimming with FPS references: the game's Nazi-like enemies are from Wolfenstein, the armor from Unreal Tournament, and the bikers reference Kingpin: Life of Crime. As Mulder enters the game he dons sunglasses, sleeveless armor, and a newfound machismo that echo Duke Nukem; the homicidal female character combines Sin's domme-wear with an actress who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lara Croft.

Scully is unsurprisingly cynical of this violent, sexist game: "What purpose does this game serve except to add to a culture of violence in a country that's already out of control?" she asks Mulder.

"Who says it adds to it?" he replies.

Unlike Gamer, "First-Person Shooter" doesn't just play dumbly to the mainstream perception of gamers getting off on violence and depravity. It references specific FPS games and especially those like Unreal Tournament that brazenly played to that perception; if we cringe when we hear the episode's catchphrase "the blood-thirst is unquenchable!" then it should be because we're reminded of "Monster Kill." Games have yet to be shown to cause violence or sexism, but shooters like Duke Nukem and Unreal Tournament, for all their fun, do not assuage that mainstream cynicism of gaming, and that's the point the episode seems to be making. With post-Gamer hindsight, maybe the episode is sharper than those critics suggested.

For all the inaccuracies, there are things to be gleaned from what is crucially the external perspective of visual media. The same X-Files episode also notes that gaming often misrepresents women because there are too few female developers, an industry problem still even a decade later. The Bones episode "Gamer in the Grease" dilutes competitive gaming to wholly being about retro arcade games, but also notes gaming's therapeutic role in autism, something House and The Wizard have done, too. Speaking of House, the 2009 episode "Epic Fail" features another completely implausible VR game, but subtly hints at how the stress of the games development process can affect health. The external perspective can help visual media make observations that those who are too close to gaming may not be able to see, and often ones that the industry isn't enthusiastic about making.

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