EA Responds to Mass Effect Report on Fox News

EA Responds to Mass Effect Report on Fox News

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Electronic Arts has taken Fox News to task over their grossly erroneous Mass Effect report, requesting the network "correct the record" on the popular roleplaying game.

A Fox News segment on Monday featured a brief debate, transcribed on GamePolitics, between talk show host Cooper Lawrence and videogame journalist and Spike TV host Geoff Keighley. The opening of the segment featured a banner reading, "'Se'Xbox? New Video Game Shows Full Digital Nudity and Sex," while over the course of the interview, Lawrence and host Martha MacCallum made various false claims about the game despite Lawrence's admission that she has never actually played it. Following the debate, one "panelist" commented, "Who can argue, possibly, that Luke Skywalker meets Debbie Does Dallas is a good thing?" while another suggested the game should have received an AO (Adults Only) rating from the ESRB.

In response, Electronic Arts Vice President of Communications Jeff Brown has sent a letter to Teri Van Horn, producer of the Fox News Live Desk program which aired the Mass Effect segment. The letter, posted on Kotaku, points out several "errors and misstatements" made on the program with regards to the sexual content of the game and its alleged marketing to children, and provides detailed corrections. From the letter:

Your headline above the televised story read: "New videogame shows full digital nudity and sex."
Fact: Mass Effect does not include explicit or frontal nudity. Love scenes in non-interactive sequences include side and profile shots - a vantage frequently used in many prime-time television shows. It's also worth noting that the game requires players to develop complex relationships before characters can become intimate and players can chose to avoid the love scenes altogether.

FNC voice-over reporter says: "You'll see full digital nudity and the ability for players to engage in graphic sex."
Fact: Sex scenes in Mass Effect are not graphic. These scenes are very similar to sex sequences frequently seen on network television in prime time.

FNC reporter says: "Critics say Mass Effect is being marketed to kids and teenagers."
Fact: That is flat out false. Mass Effect and all related marketing has been reviewed by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and rated Mature - appropriate for players 17-years and older. ESRB routinely counsels retailers on requesting proof of age in selling M-rated titles and the system has been lauded by members of Congress and the Federal Trade Commission. In practical terms, the ratings work as well or better than those used for warning viewers about television content.

Brown goes on to suggest that the Fox treatment of the game "represents a new level of recklessness," and wrote, "Do you watch the Fox Network? Do you watch Family Guy? Have you ever seen The OC? Do you think the sexual situations in Mass Effect are any more graphic than scenes routinely aired on those shows? Do you honestly believe that young people have more exposure to Mass Effect than to those prime time shows?"

Although EA is typically the target of enthusiastic trashing by gamers, in this instance they're receiving widespread applause and support for both standing up for the industry and taking the moral high ground while doing so: In his conclusion, Brown wrote, "This isn't a legal threat; it's an appeal to your sense of fairness. We're asking FNC to correct the record on Mass Effect."

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Three cheers for Jeff Brown and all the people at EA Communications/Public Relations.

Anyway, back to my murder simulator...I mean sex simulator...I mean anti-family values devil machine.

It's a good response, although truthfully I think EA could have chosen to stay silent and the whole affair would have been little more than spit in a river.

This is how Fox News works, and their day to day panels commenting on the moral corruption of society fail to move much beyond background noise. Also I'm of the opinion that although moral tirades against videogames will continue for another ten years, because they've proven themselves to be a financial juggernaut it's unlikely we'll see any real restrictions placed on their output. I think we might see a game here or there that becomes an example, but by and large content will continue to get riskier and the industry will continue to grow.

This was completely unexpected. I... I figured that EA would just ignore the whole kerfuffle. That they're not taking this lying down? I'm impressed. Very impressed.

The perception of video games in society will not change if the gamers and game makers don't stand up! And EA is standing up! So... woo!

wreid, cause this coul have been a nice free publicity for the game, hehe

I think EA made an excellent point when they compared the content of this game being no different from what actually airs on network TV. This game is rated "M" for ages 17 and higher where these network shows with similar content, to my knowledge, are rated "TV-14". It's upsetting that these fear-mongering journalists seem to be jumping on this bandwagon, seemingly without any knowledge of the industry, for nothing more than ratings.

Kudos for EA taking a stand against this senseless slander of their product.

broadband:
wreid, cause this coul have been a nice free publicity for the game, hehe

Now it definitely will be... : )

And I'm all for it.

Lampdevil:
This was completely unexpected. I... I figured that EA would just ignore the whole kerfuffle. That they're not taking this lying down? I'm impressed. Very impressed.

The perception of video games in society will not change if the gamers and game makers don't stand up! And EA is standing up! So... woo!

I agree, and I love the fact that it's EA of all people. Hopefully the industry response to these expert non-gamers will become more articulated (and noticeable) from hereon - thus far it's only really been the "working example" gamers who have had the guts to retaliate.

But if EA had stayed quiet, the Fox "panel" would have looked as insignificant as they are, and then maybe television would finally look its age. Basically, the only reason networks come up with drivel like this is because TV is a dying medium - and who better to be mind-numbingly conservative about this technological progression than Fox News?

I blame winter. It's making Murdoch's journalists all traditionalistic. Just look at that creature from The Times the other day....

I'm confused. I hate EA for their unrelenting dumbing down of video games and their 'We're so down with the kids' attitude, but now they've stuck up for the games industry, and done so very eloquently, I feel like I should respect them.

The only reason EA stood up is because they saw this as a threat to their pocket book, there is no nobility in what they did at all just smart business.

Side with EA or Fox. This has got to be the hardest decision known to man?

Terramax:
Side with EA or Fox. This has got to be the hardest decision known to man?

I concur.

Its pretty obvious that, whilst EA doesn't really give two shits about its 'hardcore' gaming community as long as they can make millions from the more causal crowd, they are obviously out to defend themselves on this one. Note that they are hardly defending the great values of gaming or anything, just branding FOX a liar (what's new?) and defending their own product as any business would.

But at least it is good to see someone high-profile sticking up for gaming.

Congratulations EA, you managed to take the moral high-ground against FOX News. How did you accomplish this insurmountable task? How did you manage to face their flawless logic? How could you defeat the same thorough research that told us that Mark Foley was really a democrat?

Well, my character Sheep Shepard had plenty of graphic sex, but only in my head.

alexhayter86:
Well, my character Sheep Shepard had plenty of graphic sex, but only in my head.

Misguided youth!

Wait till Fox hear about this!

Brown goes on to suggest that the Fox treatment of the game "represents a new level of recklessness," and wrote, "Do you watch the Fox Network? Do you watch Family Guy? Have you ever seen The OC? Do you think the sexual situations in Mass Effect are any more graphic than scenes routinely aired on those shows? Do you honestly believe that young people have more exposure to Mass Effect than to those prime time shows?"

The real question was "do you still watch Fox News?"

I thought i would never say this, but 3 cheers for EA.

Sure they were just defending a product of a company that they own (something i will never forgive them for), but it was done in the professional and dignified way that the videogame industry lacks!

The first step of many on the path of repentance for their horrible crimes.

Terramax:
Side with EA or Fox. This has got to be the hardest decision known to man?

Not really, i mean i've said some pretty harsh things about EA before and sometimes i've even had good reason too but comparing them to fox is like comparing a playground bully to the devil.

Well, it's nice to see a big bucks company standing up for their media. If it had been a small indie developer, we probably wouldn't be talking about it now(well, maybe a little I guess) but this time it's a company that's in the business for money, not the art or whatever.

Feels weird to see EA standing up to defend their game like that. It's like seeing.... I dunno, fill the gap with a witty analogy if you please but you get my point. Maybe Fox will take EA more seriously since it covers a big mainstream audience and is making a bunch of profit. But maybe I am underestimating Fox News dumbness.

Im confused by the whole issue, the game clearly reads MA15+ (For us Australians) which is ment for mature audiences so if minor got their hands on this game the question falls upon the parents (or Guardians). Gamers at the age of 15 and over know more about sex then our parents of FOX News thought and probably don't feel like paying $100 for 2 second of computer animated ass.

I have more respect of the staff at EA. I don't care if they are using this as some marketing ploy, but as long as they're sticking up for us gamers I'm all for it. We need stronger backing as it seems all we get is crap thrown at us and the developers. Stick it to the man!

It could be anyone, I'm just glad they're sticking it to Fox. Goddamn Republican TV network..

A thought occurs, people, big news.

Broadband's comment further up causes me to wonder: After seeing this new report, how many fratboys went out and bought this game only to find one of the PG-rated, non-interactive sex scenes and threw their controller at the TV in frustration?

PurpleRain:
Stick it to the man!

With the man?

Not that I'm complaining. Anyone shutting down ignorant game-bashers is welcome, even Satan himself. If he's already hooked into the gaming movement why not use him?

Wow, and I thought I was the only one pissed at EA.

Sure EA has its faults, but if EA goes against FOX, I'm all out for EA.

I play Manhunt, I play Grand Theft Auto, But do I run around gunning people down, sticking them with a piece of glass, smashing their heads with a baseball bat, stealing cars, rig them with bombs, bring my gang and shoot down rival gang members?

I do that in the virtual world, its more fun that way anyway.

Screw FOX. And Three cheers for EA and their great job with Mass Effect.

Don't have time for a proper post, so i'll just paste this article, sorry!

Mass Effect 'expert' recants
January 28, 2008 1:43 PM

Cooper Lawrence, the author, presenter and pop psychologist who took part in Fox News' now legendary report on Mass Effect, has told the New York Times that she regrets the comments she made during the segment. At the time she criticised the game for its sexual objectification of women - despite never having played it, or seen footage. From the article:

"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."

Will this stop 24-hour news channels press ganging publicity-hungry 'pundits' into studio debates that they're in no way qualified to contribute to? Is the pope a traffic-accident gawking scientologist?

Meanwhile Fox and EA seem to be in loggerheads over where to go next. Apparently, EA says it's sent a letter of complaint to Fox but the network hasn't replied, Fox says it has invited EA onto the same show to put across its side of the Mass Effect story, but hasn't received a response. You'd think these hulking bastions of the modern media industry could manage to establish somekind of successful communication channel.

I can't help but think, wow, if only every story on Fox News was so passionately deconstructed by its viewers.
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/games/archives/2008/01/28/mass_effect_expert_recants.html

She never should have made a comment without playing the game but at least she apologised

'Luke Skywalker meets Debbie Does Dallas' now there's an idea!

Come on guys this is just manufactured free press for "Mass Effect"...I bet if you traced the corporate ownership of EA and FOX somewhere along the line they would merge.

You can't buy this kind of free publicity!

Everyone claims to hate Fox News but it's always the highest rated cable news network. Just like when no one liked Vanilla Ice but he had the number one album in the US.

This same kind of "controversy" made "Grand Theft Auto" a best seller!

You know what? I applaud EA. Not only that, but the people who are insist on getting on EA's case no matter what they say are really starting to piss me off. Not pointing the finger at any one person in particular, but I'm sick of hearing so many people say "Well, what do you expect? They're only doing it for the money, corporate bastards."

Go EA!

Though I wonder if they intentionally released the fact that the game had sex. Yahtzee agrees that that would have improved sales.

[quote=grimmjack66]Come on guys this is just manufactured free press for "Mass Effect"...I bet if you traced the corporate ownership of EA and FOX somewhere along the line they would merge.
quote]

Oh. You mean sort of like that theory that if everyone traced their lineage back far enough, they would find royalty? :)

Oh I remember this, quite funny that Fox can get away with anything.

Election 2000 anyone...

 

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