Mass Effect-bashing Pundit Backs Off

January 17, 2008 -
What a week gamers shared with conservative talk show host and author Kevin McCullough (left).

On Monday GamePolitics reported that McCullough had wrong-headedly trashed Mass Effect, treating the popular and well-regarded 360 title with the kind of disgust usually reserved for snuff films.

On Wednesday we were outraged by McCullough's Thompson-esque bashing of "gamer nerds."

But now McCullough has backed off a good bit, even issuing an apology of sorts:
Based on the multitude of response by gamers who share my concern for decency in the entertainment of our children, it is obvious that I had been misinformed on at least two points of substance in my original column.

For this I DO apologize to the gaming universe!

...I still do concur with my original position that the objectionable content in Mass Effect is still offensive, and should be kept out of the hands of those under age.

GP: Well... To be honest, Kevin, your original position wasn't that Mass Effect was merely "offensive," but rather that it constituted digital sodomy and "virtual orgasmic rape." But we're glad you're willing to learn from other viewpoints (unlike some critics we know). McCullough continues:
Mass Effect fans have demonstrated that the three minute cuts on YouTube are only arrived at after hours of play. So in their argument the "percentage" of objectionable content is heavily outweighed by the overwhelming amount of content leading up to it. Point well made...

GP: While we respect and appreciate McCullough's about-face, the real take-away from this episode is the persuasive power of gamers when they unite against a common threat.

McCullough spent most of this week's radio program discussing the Mass Effect affair with some very level-headed gamers. It's worth a listen...


If you think we can ignore him and he will go away, I must disagree. Look at Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. They are obvious asshats, yet they continue to draw readers / listeners. I agree that the only counter to their hate filled misinformation is continuous (calm) interjection of truth to refute their lies.

i think we were bored....when do we find out that thompson is disbarred........i have the party all planed out....

in other words my editor got royally bitched out

At least somebody came to their senses, unlike a certain Floridian lawyer who shall remain nameless but is infamous to all gamers.

"Jesus, don’t dignify this shmuck by referring to anything he says as “a threat.” Some uninformed wanker splooging onto a blog at townhall is a threat to the gaming industry & community in the same way a mouse farting is a threat to the polar icecaps." is one of the largest conservative political sites on the web, it's readers are politically active, influential beyond their numbers, and not at all opposed to censoring video games if the means/chance provides itself.

So no, you can't ignore this guy. You may not see his influence here in the gaming world, but out in the political one (where I spend most of my time these days) his site's not small fry. They may be crazy and hyper-partisan but they're not harmless.


"But he also learned a lesson. The next time he wants to bash a game, he had better be informed."

No, I doubt that. I'm with PA, the only lesson he learned is that this is a great way to generate hits.

@ Steve

If that's true, that's awesome, but it still falls short of doing the right thing unless a FULL and ACCURATE retraction is posted. But yes, I'm glad it's gone and good on our community for standing up for Mass Effect and for ourselves.

"I have a question… Are there actually going to be any consequences for what he did? I mean, he basically lied outright. Shouldn’t he be punished for this? I mean, he is in a position of power and he has used it irresponsibly. Bioware should sue him for slander. The game was rated by the ESRB people and they gave it a fair rating.

Sorry, this guy just annoys me so much.

/end rant"
Sueing him would be very unreasonable. He apologized isn't that enough? It's not like he killed somebodys baby. All he did was say some very ignorant things.

Sueing him would be very unreasonable. He apologized isn’t that enough?
Short answer: No, it wouldn't be enough. Long Answer: They probably won't sue because, quite honestly, they don't have to. The article's been pulled; they got what they wanted.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that this, the article being pulled, was the action Bioware took.

it would make bioware look like penny pinchers if they sued.

"I mean, he is in a position of power and he has used it irresponsibly."

He isn't a person of power. Gabe from Penny Arcade spelled it out nicely for us when trying to research who this guy is. Short answer: He's a nobody. He has three local sponsors and a VERY small fan base of "muscleheads." We, the outraged gamers, are the largest audience he has ever had.


I don't think Bioware (or EA, or MS Game Studios/whoever own the rights to it) would look like penny pinchers. To gamers (the people they care about), I think they would look like heroes. The guy is insinuating gamers are rapists. Since townhall is filled with and run by like-minded, holier-than-thou, politicos and trashing gaming is a universally safe bet to earn scare points with their generation, there is little us gamers can do to stop this filth. We can spam emails and articles, but given the territory, they are plenty used to it anyway.

However, Bioware, EA, and MS all have alot of power and money that we don't have. If they wanted, they could get results very quickly that we cannot. This guy made serious allegations we aren't really able to defend but through co-ordination that usually doesn't exist and brute force. If one of those companies were to stand up and take action on our behalf, I would applaud them.

Personally, I think it's likely they may have had something to do with the article being pulled. They scoffed and called names after gamers flooded the site and offered factual rebuttals. Then, all of a sudden, the article is pulled? I have a hard time buying that they suddenly took us seriously. Maybe.

I know I'm interested to find out why the article is gone now. Do they actually have some standards there? Was there a change of heart? Was there a threat of legal action?

BTW, I don't know that a suit would need to be seen through, it just needs to put a good scare into them.

Red Herring indeed.

The guy's column entry is gone, and he's gone back through his blog entries and edited out most of the original rhetoric that pissed people off. (And sure, he had some pretty nasty things to say originally, but we've all dealt with JT long enough to have been called worse.)

I had quite a few words for the guy myself when he first popped up on the radar, but in the past couple of days, he's made more concessions than just about anyone else we've ever seen on this site, and he seems to have backed off the topic entirely now.

Let's give it a rest.

The guy’s column entry is gone, and he’s gone back through his blog entries and edited out most of the original rhetoric that pissed people off. (And sure, he had some pretty nasty things to say originally, but we’ve all dealt with JT long enough to have been called worse.)

Did he at least leave an update saying he removed all his incorrect statements? Or is he playing the "I never said that" ploy?
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Well, he does seem to have a good idea of how the internet works. If you want to discredit a group of people, just bash them unfairly. You'll get a massive response, and, inevitably, at least one of those responses will be some douchebag kid sending you a death threat. Then you can quote the death threat and say, "See? This is what these people are like!" Jacko does that all the time.

Is it finally over? Please say it is.

Oh and yes to everyone who said his apoligies seem half-hearted. You can't honestly know this without talking to the guy in person (and even then not everyone can).

You seem to forget the pride and anger issue. Mainly the over the top insulting comments caused him to be angry (who can blame him). This wrath made it a lot harder to swallow his pride and own up (this is something that happens in everyone). So the fact that he's giving us this apology probly means it took a lot of effort on his part (this doesn't seem like an "Ok I was wrong, can we please drop the issue and move on" apology). It's hard to swallow your pride sometimes.

"persuasive power of gamers when they unite against a common threat."

Persuasive power? If we had that then we would never come across as nerds with no life. We were arguing facts about the game. This isn't an issues debate where there is two sides and whatnot this issue is pretty simple. Mass Effect is not nearly as bad as the man describes. That's it.

Oh and if we have persuasive power, why not use it on politicians?

Wow... In light of the JT-like behavior that he has been throwing our way, him admitting that he was missinformed and issuing an apology is a bit admirable and shows that he does had some dignity after all. However, he still should have done some research on the matter first. On a side note, I went out and bought this game a couple days ago and, so far, I get the feeling that it's almost Oblivion in space but based more on teamwork and relationships and consequences of decisions.

Guys, let's not be angry at him after backing off, half-assed or no.

let us rather be glad we have corrected him!

As I've said previously: we do not forgive, we do not forget, we are legion.

The first anti-game person that I respect. It takes a mature person to admit it when you're proven wrong. And now that he has withdrawn most of the claims, this seems somewhat reasonable!

Whoever said that we were his biggest audience and thus got the most hits ever from his last article, is probably right. He has probably never been faced with this much publicity, good or bad. And if you have to resort to shoddy journalism to get more listeners, you might want to re-think your career in news.

The smirk on his face suggests "HAHA! I am a pimp and you are not, lowly, single, gamer nerds! For I am not, a gamer nerd and I hop the clubs with my fellow guidos!"

This is great news, and I hope that other pundits can be reined in as well.

JT will probably either agree with or lie about the nature of his acusations, and say that he was silenced by pixelante thugs.


Or act like the apology was forced or never happened.

"Gamernerd" is a term of affection he says? What's wrong with Gamer? Hell, it's even one less syllable.


That's a horrible attitude to have.

@ Thefremen

Perhaps. But Anonymous had no real part in this by the looks of things. then again I could be wrong.

Well, as long as we as a group don't continue to harass him, let's not do a Thompson here and start pushing it into some kind of Vendetta. The article is gone, congrats to everyone on that, but even a McCullough, though I'll admit not having much respect for him right now, deserves a chance to learn.

He's manned up a lot more than other people who have spoken before thinking, and I do have some respect for him for that, even if it wasn't a full apology, it's as close as we can reasonably expect.

Hopefully, he will have learned a lesson about learning about something before posting about it, if that is the only effect we have on him, it is still a positive one in the longer term. You will already note that the phrase 'Gamernerd' has stopped being used, which is good, I personally found the term demeaning and insulting, yes I'm a gamer, but it's something I do, not something I am. Just one man realising we are not 'spotty 13 year-olds' but are in fact young adults upwards.

Our best bet, even as anons, is to let the thing go (rules 1 and 2 are our friends here too.) . The guy has eaten the shit he posted, good for him. We have better things to do with our time. I guess he learned to do research.

On the other hand, that was a pretty funny arc, err... thing to see through.

Now let's focus on something which might be a bit funnier to poke at. This wasn't worth a good old faux news scare about y2k causing computers to explode.

And I guess he understood the fact that we are adults, for most of us. The thing, now, is to make the rest of luddites of his kind understand that.

And, come on, can research actually hurt?

[quote]He apologized not out of respect, but fear… The first few words of his blogtalkradio ; “The gamers of the country are mad at me.. Find out why.”

If in Russia, people kill each over Lineage 2, imagine what would happen to this sore loser in America… [/quote]

Uh huh, and statements like that do exactly what for our cause? Infer that because someone makes up a bunch of bullshit, gamers are going to be out for his blood?

Anyone who has spent more than 5 mins on a forums know the keyboard commandos are touch when it comes to anon. talking but most of them would wilt like a daisy in a face to face.

The more relevant faction of gamers are the people like GamerDad or the majority of the esteemed readers of this page. People who get pissed off at being characterised as a bestiality loving sodomist hiding under a rock gamer-nerd, but can express that anger in a reasonable argument that even the hate mongers find hard to take out of context.

That being said, the apology is bunk and the guy is trying to cover his ass because he's been caught firmly in the spotlight with his lies exposed.

The usual MO here is not that the facts were wrong, or that the apology came. The purpose was to disseminate the misinformation. Plant it in people's minds who don't know much about gaming or the game itself. Then in a few months or so when another round of "let's trash video games" rolls around, this will be in the backs of the minds of his intended audience. It won't matter that he was misinformed or just outright lied. It's not targeted towards people who are informed, it's about people who are uninformed and don't really think or care about the issue, whose unconscious perceptions will be jerked around by this. Those people have already read the original column, digested the information, and skipped on. The apology comes after the true intended audience has moved on, and the true intended audience never hears it or the fact that he was wrong.

Well said /b/rotha.

Good to see that someone is able to realize that they screwed up... BIG TIME.

As ive said before i dont really care much about insults to the video game industry or to myself...but what does piss me off is that hes all look at me im christian about this..

Look if there is one thing the world dosent need is another jackass pissing everyone off and then talking about how hes "christian"
Look! people hate christians enough already without you kicking the world in the please(look i said please) STFU!

Wow that guy looks like hes on some sort of illegal substance
big puffy red eyes
loss of hair
lime green tie
general sleezy look
One Hundred dollars says he played through this game 20 times trying to find the "porn".

oh and the radio description=
Banking on the reliability of Common Sense over Partisan Politics we take back the turf that has been yielded to the dastardly devil dogs of immoral, anti-God, liberalism...

Wow...ChristianGamer i have to say...i think you might have a point there lol.

ah well hes just trolling gamers for fun and profit leave him alone or sue his ass pick one... dont just blog about it

oh he didnt really give an apology
in fact 20 min into the radio cast he calls all gamers lifeless douche bags(basicly)

@Internet Hate Machine

Why the fuck are you addressing /b/ on GP?

GP is not /b/, end of story. At any rate, this guy and Hal Turner should host a show together.

"the real take-away from this episode is the persuasive power of gamers when they unite against a common threat.

McCullough spent most of this week’s radio program discussing the Mass Effect affair with some very level-headed gamers."

"Level-headed" is the key phrase. This is a reminder that while insulting people we disagree with may be cathartic, the best way to make our case is by communicating rationally and showing politeness and respect...even to people who are obviously and demonstrably wrong.

I think his deletion of the old post, and his deletion of the "gamer nerd" comments is his own way of giving an apology by manner of not perpetuating the hateful speech. He's censoring himself.

In my opinion, the guy is seriously trying to make up for what he did. Humility is a bitter pill to swallow, so don't go knocking him if it takes a while to go down all the way. He's doing what he can, and he's trying to meet us half-way here. He still has his views, and some immature gamers emailed him in pretty dumb ways, and under those circumstances we can never expect a full "Hey, I fucked up, I'm sorry" type of post.

Take it and run with it - this is a guy who is willing to learn from his mistakes, unlike certain other would-be-censors.

Apologized my balls! He's just backing off, scared, not sorry. He said some really nasty things about a huge group of people. It's like bashing all christians because of false accusations of some village priest. Gamers aren't a community of similar people. They're people who play games. That includes gay people, communists, powerful politician, CEOs, rabbis, soldiers and representants of virtually every other group or subculture existing in modern, multicultural societies. He offended a whole lot of people by lying and name-calling. That was ugly.

I would hate to see him getting off the hook so easily.

The question then remains, 'what would satisfy as an apology?'.

I, personally, think this will do, in a way, there's only so much you can demand of anyone's pride, how much would any of us be prepared to admit our beliefs were wrong if it came to light that something we believed was actually wrong? You have to give people room to step down into, in a way, that's what Diplomacy is.

I suppose we have to, as a group, be prepared to meet people half-way on their beliefs, and agree to have some disagreement with them. That doesn't mean we stop defending our right to play and enjoy the games we so choose to in the privacy of our own homes, it just means that we have to accept that their are people who believe that doing so isn't good for us. I think we have to do it, if for no other reason, because we risk becoming the very people we are trying to defend ourselves from if we don't.

Kevin “Virtual Sodomy” McCollough issued a formal apology to the “game nerds” after spewing quite the delirious review of a game he admits to never playing.

[...] [Via GamePolitics] [...]

[...] [Via GamePolitics] [...]

GoodRobotUs makes a very good point - we can only expect so much of a person's pride. If we refuse to meet them halfway, we're being completely unreasonable. There is a give and take to such things, and we must give a little to take anything at all.

"I suppose we have to, as a group, be prepared to meet people half-way on their beliefs, and agree to have some disagreement with them. That doesn’t mean we stop defending our right to play and enjoy the games we so choose to in the privacy of our own homes, it just means that we have to accept that their are people who believe that doing so isn’t good for us. I think we have to do it, if for no other reason, because we risk becoming the very people we are trying to defend ourselves from if we don’t."

I understand what you're saying, but here's the rub. I don't for a moment believe that he believes any of the garbage he spewed, or ever did at any time. I believe he willfully lied, and did so in the most outrageously overblown manner that he could contrive. That sort of blatant behavior, in my book, nullifies any sort of remorse or compassion I would potentially feel for him when the light does come shining down on him, exposing him for the worm he is.

In truth, I don't care if he apologizes or not, because to me it means NOTHING. He's shown us what his word is worth; why should it be more trustworthy or merit our attention more when it's expressing a so-called apology than when it was spewing the bile that started this whole affair? No, the only thing I care about at this point is that someone outside the gaming community publically acknowledge the multitude of lies in his article, and call a spade a spade in that he wasn't "misinformed" but "completely dishonest".

I don't expect this to happen, but it's what would settle the matter for me. I owe this man absolutely nothing; he can take his pride and shove it, to be quite honest.

He didn't back down from anything. He turned around on some minor things without addressing the major. He picked his battles to make him seem less toolish. No one changed his mind and there was no victory. He's a slime of the highest caliber.


His original column (The one that started the fiasco) is now gone. He deleted it. Probablly from the pressure of his detractors.

You know what? This is just one of a new wave of people that discovered Mass Effect in the usual "a little birdie told me" kind of way. Fox News also got their "fair and balanced" report on the game's sexual content and with their own line of rumor-mongerers. With it comes Spike TV's Geoff Keighley kicking butt at the critics who admit to not playing the games. You can view it here:

[...] Néanmoins, il faut préciser que “l’affaire” s’est plutôt bien terminée. En effet, Kevin McCullough a proposé aux joueurs d’en débattre avec lui sur son émission de radio. Et il faut croire que le débat a porté ses fruits, puisque peu après il s’est plus ou moins excusé sur son blog. Plus précisément, il a admis qu’il avait été “désinformé sur au moins deux points importants” de son article originel”. Le premier point est le fait que BioWare ne vend pas Mass Effect intentionnellement aux enfants (et que des mesures sont prises aux Etats-Unis pour que les mineurs n’aient pas accès aux jeux qui ne sont pas pour eux). Le deuxième point est le fait que les joueurs de jeux vidéo ne sont pas tous des pervers asociaux et lunatiques, puisque plusieurs d’entre eux sont du même bord politique que lui, et partagent ses objections sur le contenu de certains jeux. De plus, il a fini par admettre que Mass Effect ne contenant que très, très peu de sexe, le jeu n’était pas tel qu’il l’avait décrit. [...]
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Mattsworknameargue that it's wrong, but then please admit it's wrong on ALL Fronts07/29/2015 - 2:06am
MattsworknameTechnoGeek: It's actually NOT, but it is a method used all across the specturm. See Rush limbaugh, MSNBC, Shawn hannity, etc etc, how many compagns have been brought up to try and shut them down by going after there advertisers. It's fine if you wanna07/29/2015 - 2:05am
Mattsworknamediscussed, while not what I liked and not the methods I wanted to see used, were , in a sense, the effort of thsoe game consuming masses to hold what they felt was supposed to be there press accountable for what many of them felt was Betrayal07/29/2015 - 2:03am
MattsworknameAs we say, the gamers are dead article set of a firestorm among the game consuming populace, who, ideally, were the intended audiance for sites like Kotaku, Polygon, Et all. As such, the turn about on them and the attacking of them, via the metods07/29/2015 - 2:03am
MattsworknameAndrew: Thats kind fo the issue at hand, Accountable is a matter of context. For a media group, it means accountable to its reader. to a goverment, to it's voters and tax payer, to a company, to it's share holders.07/29/2015 - 2:02am
Andrew EisenAnd again, you keep saying "accountable." What exactly does that mean? How is Gamasutra not accounting for the editorial it published?07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - I disagree with your 9:12 and 9:16 comment. There are myriad ways to address content you don't like. And they're far easier to execute in the online space.07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Banning in the legal sense? Not that I'm aware but there have certainly been groups of gamers who have worked towards getting content they don't like removed.07/28/2015 - 11:45pm
DanJAlexander's editorial was and continues to be grossly misrepresented by her opponents. And if you don't like a site, you stop reading it - same as not watching a tv show. They get your first click, but not your second.07/28/2015 - 11:40pm
TechnogeekYes, because actively trying to convince advertisers to influence the editorial content of media is a perfectly acceptable thing to do, especially for a movement that's ostensibly about journalistic ethics.07/28/2015 - 11:02pm
Mattsworknameanother07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
Mattsworknameyou HAVE TO click on it. So they get the click revenue weather you like what it says or not. as such, the targeting of advertisers most likely seemed like a good course of action to those who wanted to hold those media groups accountable for one reason07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
MattsworknameBut, when you look at online media, it's completely different, with far more options, but far few ways to address issues that the consumers may have. In tv, you don't like what they show, you don't watch. But in order to see if you like something online07/28/2015 - 9:12pm
MattsworknameIn tv, and radio, ratings are how it works. your ratings determine how well you do and how much money you an charge.07/28/2015 - 9:02pm
Mattsworknameexpect to do so without someone wanting to hold you to task for it07/28/2015 - 9:00pm
MattsworknameMecha: I don't think anyone was asking for Editoral changes, what they wanted was to show those media groups that if they were gonna bash there own audiance, the audiance was not gonna take it sitting down. you can write what you want, but you can't07/28/2015 - 8:56pm
MattsworknameAndrew, Im asking as a practical question, Have gamers, as a group, ever asked for a game, or other item, to be banned. Im trying to see if theres any cases anyone else remembers cause I cant find or remember any.07/28/2015 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenAs mentioned, Gamasutra isn't a gaming site, it's a game industry site. I don't feel it's changed its focus at all. Also, I don't get the sense that the majority of the people who took issue with that one opinion piece were regular readers anyway.07/28/2015 - 8:43pm
MattsworknameDitto kotaku, Gawker, VOX, Polygon, ETC07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
MechaTama31So, between pulling a game from one chain of stores, and forcing editorial changes to a media source, only one of them strikes you as being on the edge of censorship, and it's the game one?07/28/2015 - 8:41pm

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