Webcomic Imagines BioWare’s Reaction to Angry Gamer

March 21, 2012 -

For the past two weeks, fan complaints over Mass Effect 3’s DLC and ending have been loud and plentiful (if not always rational or polite).  Much to the chagrin of the more passionate and impatient of us gamers, BioWare didn’t immediately kowtow to various fan demands, perhaps leading some to wonder if the company simply didn’t give a toss now that it has their money.

8 comments | Read more

Same-Sex Romance For All in Mass Effect 3, Says BioWare

May 16, 2011 -

If you want man-on-man and woman-on-woman action in the next Mass Effect game, you'll be happy to hear that BioWare has made your wish its command. According to a tweet from executive producer Casey Hudson, Jane and John Shepard will support a wider array of romantic options, adding that the writing team is handling love interests of existing characters "with sophistication" and will do their best to "preserve character continuity." From his twitter feed:

"Happy to confirm #ME3 supports wider options for love interests incl. same-sex for m&f chars, reactive to how you interact w/them in-game."

Hudson also revealed "love interests won't all necessarily be permanent squad members." Fans can look forward to love across the universe, it would seem.

15 comments | Read more

BioWare Will Include Sex Scenes in Games If They Fit the Plot

July 9, 2009 -

Despite taking a bit of a thrashing in the mainstream media, BioWare remains unfazed by the 2008 controversy that Fox News ginned up over the well-known and tenderly played sex scene in best-selling RPG Mass Effect. The noted game developer's upcoming title Dragon Age: Origins is set to feature more of the same.
 
In an interview with CVG, co-founder of BioWare, Greg Zeschuk discusses the inclusion of sexual interactions in video games:

I don't think [games] need to have [sex scenes], I think that in certain types of games it makes sense to have them... That said, I think from our perspective we want to reflect real human relationships... And if that involves some sort of intimate scenes, we want to provide those for the player.
 
It's based on the fact that this is a sophisticated mature experience. The same way that a kid's anime or cartoon will have a different style of content in it than a really serious drama, this is like a serious drama. Really what we're going for in all cases is emotional engagement, some kind of impact.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen thinks Microsoft’s Project Natal could make for some interesting sexual interactions in video games...

26 comments

In Parliament, Lively Debate on Video Game Ratings & Green Cross Man

November 14, 2008 -

The House of Commons had a lengthy and entertaining debate on video game issues yesterday. Also under discussion was the issue of Internet safety for children. Both topics, of course, were the focus of the well-known Byron Review.

MPs, including Labour Party game critic Keith Vaz argued about game ratings, game violence and whether the government does enough to support the British game biz.

The session had to be gaveled to order at a couple of points and Vaz made reference to a "secret tea" attended by Conservative MP Edward Vaizey and game industry execs. And, as if the ongoing turf war between PEGI and BBFC for U.K. ratings dominance wasn't complex enough, yesterday's debate also featured the light-hearted suggestion that British road safety icon the Green Cross Man (left) somehow be tied into the game rating system.

In this report, we've omitted the Internet bits to focus on the video game debate. Here's our abridged transcript:

John Whittingdale (Conservative): ...If one looks for empirical, hard, factual evidence that viewing a particular video or playing a video game has led someone to go out and commit a crime such as a rape or an act of violence, there is very little. Our view was therefore... that we should act on the probability of risk. Where there is a probable risk that someone would be influenced by exposure to such material, that is sufficient cause for intervention...

Tanya Byron did a great deal of work on that. Her other conclusion, which was shared strongly by the Committee, was that we cannot completely insulate children from material that might pose a risk. Part of educating children involves teaching them how to deal with risks. If we insulate them to the extent that they never encounter risks, they will not know how to deal with them...

Providers such as Microsoft told us about the parental controls that they have installed into products such as the Xbox... We were impressed by the commitment that almost every major industry body, including internet service providers, social networking sites and hardware manufacturers, has shown regarding the protection of young people, but there is no commonality...

I want to talk about video games in the final part of my remarks. I know that Keith Vaz... has several concerns about this issue, so he has arrived [late] at just the right moment.

Part of the problem with video games... is that there is no hard evidence to prove that playing a game will lead someone to go out and commit a crime or physical attack. Nevertheless, we agree that there is a probability that it could occur, and there is anecdotal evidence to support that view. The Video Recordings Act 1984 provided that games should be classified, that it is necessary to restrict certain games to people over a certain age... and that there would be games that should be banned entirely. That system has been generally successful since then, although there is often controversy about individual games...

Edward Vaizey (Conservative): I invite my hon. Friend, in the tone of his remarks, to make the point that when we talk about harmful video games and films, we are talking about a small minority. Does he agree that it is incumbent on hon. Members to remind the House as often as possible, when they talk about video games, that we have a most successful video games industry in this country, which employs thousands of people?

John Whittingdale (Conservative): My hon. Friend is entirely right. The video games industry is increasingly important and generates more money than the film industry. It is something that we are very good at. We are a creative nation, and many of the most successful games were developed here. We strongly support the games industry's efforts to ensure that it remains strong in this country and is not poached by other countries such as Canada, which is attempting to attract it there.

Keith Vaz (Labour): ...The fact remains that some of those games, even though they are a minority, are very violent. The hon. Gentleman and I have both commented on the video internet game "Kaboom" in which people replicate the activities of a suicide bomber. It cannot be right that the makers of those games should choose such storylines to provide entertainment, especially on the internet, where our children and under-18s can access them more easily than if they were going into a shop to buy them, as with non-internet games?

John Whittingdale (Conservative): This is a very difficult area and "Kaboom", which has been around for a little while, is an interesting example. It is a remarkably crude, cartoon-type game and is not in the least realistic, as many games now are. It is undoubtedly tasteless and might be offensive to a large number of people. I suspect that it is probably distressing to anyone who has suffered a bereavement as the result of a suicide bombing. Does that mean that it should be banned? I am not convinced that it should, because it is so crude, and other games pose greater concerns.

Edward Vaizey (Conservative): May I make a point to my hon. Friend? In his response to Keith Vaz, he has implied that "Kaboom" is somehow a legitimate video game that breaches the boundaries of taste, but it is not. It was created by an individual in his bedroom. To say that we should ban "Kaboom" is, with the greatest respect to my hon. Friend, slightly missing the point."Kaboom" is not subject to any legal constraints. It cannot be submitted to a regulator to be classified, because it is made by an individual, effectively illegally, outside the mainstream... It is not at all part of the mainstream video games industry. (more after the jump)

In Singapore, Gay & Lesbian Group Protests New Game Ratings

April 23, 2008 -
As GamePolitics reported recently, Singapore has adopted a rating system for video games.

While the move seems like a step in the right direction, not everyone is pleased with how the new ratings are to be assigned. People Like Us , which describes itself as "a Singapore gay and lesbian group focused on advocacy and public education" notes that that the government's Media Development Authority (MDA) lumps homosexuality with crime in an "Adult Theme" rating category:
People Like Us considers this new rule unjustifiably strict. Children should not have to be kept ignorant about the presence of gay people in society any more than they should be shielded from people of other faiths and ethnicities. The path to acceptance of gay people is through teaching children about diversity from a young age.

It is pejorative to lump gay sexual orientation with crime and drug use as the MDA’s new guidelines do, as if gay orientation is some kind of social threat.

The group reminds readers that Singapore's brief 2007 ban on Mass Effect was prompted by the game's rather mild lesbian sex scene (below). 

It would appear that Singapore's government is not especially tolerant in regard to its GLBT citizens. We note that People Like Us has informal group status in Singapore. Its website maintains that the government's Registrar of Societies refused to grant registration in 1997 and again in 2004.



Via: GayGamer
37 comments

Mainstream Media Shoots Self in Foot with Sensationalized Game Coverage

February 5, 2008 -
Watching Fox News’ recent Mass Effect hatchet job, it became immediately apparent that the network knew nothing about the game and was in fact making outrageous claims about non-existent sexual escapades.

Perhaps the most frightening thing is that when confronted with the facts afterward the network didn’t seem to care that it got the story wrong.

Perhaps it should.

Next Generation editor Colin Campbell opines that mainstream media is only hurting itself when it sensationalizes, scaremongers, and flat-out lies about video games.
The reason the [network execs and journalists haven’t] gotten with it on games is because they don’t play them; and neither does their rarefied social circle.

This is, in fact, a failure on their part because it’s not normal NOT to play games. Playing games is the thing regular people do. So when the networks start blustering about how it’s “interactivity” or “gore” or “porn” in games that does the damage, they look like idiots. And not just to some hardcore fraternity of die-hard gamers, but to millions of their viewers.

Only someone hopelessly out of touch could hold these antique opinions.

AE:  There’s no doubt that a large and significant percentage of the population plays video games but I have to wonder just how many of those gamers are familiar enough with Mass Effect to recognize that Fox’s report was full of it.

Campbell also takes news networks like Fox to task for being inconsistent in their concern for our “moral well-being.”  He points out that extreme violence and sexual imagery are commonplace on their shows and that other forms of media such as books, music, and movies are not being held to the same standard as games.
All of the above media businesses are self-regulated with rules in place that attempt to prevent the wrong people seeing inappropriate content. None of them succeed at this any better than games; and yet it’s games that get the brunt of the networks’ outrage.

-Reporting from San Diego, GP Correspondent Andrew Eisen
44 comments

Most Gamers Willing to Forgive Cooper Lawrence

February 2, 2008 -
GamePolitics has been running a poll for the last two days in order to determine if the gaming community is willing to forgive (but certainly not forget) Cooper Lawrence's trashing of Mass Effect.

After all, the self-help author did come clean on the state of blissful ignorance from which she slammed the highly-regarded game on Fox News' Live Desk program on January 21st.

Moreover, many gamers apparently suspect that Cooper was simply the front person while Fox News is the real culprit behind the Mass Effect smear

So the votes are in. With nearly 2,600 GP readers registering an opinion:

  • 52% say it's time to forgive Cooper

  • 37% say "no way!"

  • 11% are undecided

102 comments

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!
234 comments

Jack Thompson Weighs In on Mass Effect

January 30, 2008 -
Kotaku reports that frequent video game critic Jack Thompson has weighed in on the Mass Effect situation - with, perhaps, a surprising view.

Editor Brian Crecente quotes from Thompson from a recent e-mail exchange:
I don't see any problem with [Mass Effect]. The guy who shot his mouth off about it [on Fox News] had no idea what the Hell he was talking about... This contrived controversy is absolutely ridiculous. Report that, why don't you?
147 comments

LoadingReadyRun Parodies Fox News Smear of Mass Effect

January 29, 2008 -
When last mentioned on GamePolitics, Canadian comedy troupe LoadingReadyRun was busy raising money for the Child's Play charity via their Desert Bus gaming marathon.

Now the LLR crew has come up with a great send-up of last week's nuking of Mass Effect by Fox News:

Posted in
78 comments

Report: Fox News Host Talks Mass Effect on Yesterday's Show

January 29, 2008 -
We didn't catch yesterday's Live Desk program on Fox News, but a sharp-eyed GamePolitics reader wrote in to tell us that host Martha MacCallum made mention of the Mass Effect debacle. From the e-mail we received: 
Martha MacCallum just wrapped up today's Live Desk with Cooper Lawrence's quote from the New York Times.

GP: That would be Ms. Lawrence's admission to the NYT's Seth Schiesel that she was totally winging it with her inaccurate remarks about Mass Effect...
Martha also reiterated that they had invited "Microsoft, BioWare, and EA" to appear on the show.

Still no apology [from Fox News]... I thought it was pretty dirty that they're letting Cooper take the fall. Personally, I feel that Martha's comments on the game BEFORE the debate/interviews were trend-setting, and Cooper was brought on with a pre-existing mindset that Fox planted.

GP: Agreed - and thanks for sending that in!

UPDATE: G4 has a transcript of Martha MacCallum's comments:
Last week we aired a segment about a video game called Mass Effect.  There has been some criticism from the gaming community about the segment – on Friday, Cooper Lawrence who was the guest who spoke-out against the game, had this to say in an interview with the New York Times:
 
(MacCallum reading Lawrence’s comments from Jan. 26th NYT article): “I recognize that I misspoke. I really regret saying that, and now that I have seen the game and seen the sex scenes, its kind of a joke.  Before the show I had asked somebody about what they had had heard, and they had said its like pornography.  But its not like pornography.  I’ve seen episodes of ‘Lost’ that are more sexually explicit.”
 
MacCallum:  That from Cooper Lawrence in the New York Times.
 
MacCallum:  Again, we are inviting a representative from Microsoft, or BioWare or EA, the creators and distributors of this game for an interview with me, on this show to give their perspective of this story...
86 comments

ECA's Hal Halpin Calls on Fox News to Retract Mass Effect Story

January 28, 2008 -
Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), has weighed in on the Mass Effect episode, calling on Fox News to correct its smear of the popular Xbox 360 game.

In a letter issued this afternoon to Fox News' Teri Van Horn, producer of last Monday's offensive Live Desk segment, Halpin wrote:
On behalf of the [ECA], the national non-profit organization representing American video game consumers, I urge you to correct and repudiate the misstatements leveled by Fox News’ Live Desk regarding the story and character interactions in Mass Effect.

Your show’s reporting was irresponsible and incorrect.  Your own “expert” Cooper Lawrence has subsequently disclaimed her misstatements... In the future, we ask that you book real gamer and industry experts on your show...

ECA’s members are disturbed by your news organization’s apparent disregard of the truth in this instance.  We represent a diverse group that cuts across all ages, with the weightiest portion in the coveted 18 - 45 age group, and with women accounting for 38% of gamers. Over the past week, our members have mobilized to speak out and set the record straight on Mass Effect, and we ask the same of you.

Full Disclosure Dept: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.
97 comments

Cooper Lawrence: "I Misspoke" about Mass Effect

January 26, 2008 -
The pop psychologist and author who so enraged the gaming community this week with her condescending attitude and false characterizations of BioWare's Mass Effect has 'fessed up to the New York Times.

Cooper Lawrence made her comments to the NYT's Seth Schiesel, who writes of the gaming community's intense reaction to Lawrence's Monday appearance on Fox News' Live Desk. From the article:
The Internet hath no fury like a gamer scorned...

Bound by global message boards, blogs, chat rooms and of course the games themselves, gamers are perhaps the single most intense subculture on the Internet — fiercely protective of their pastime and at ease with the byways of cyberspace...

Irate gamers have flooded the page on Amazon.com selling Ms. Lawrence’s most recent book, “The Cult of Perfection: Making Peace With Your Inner Overachiever,” sending its user-generated rating into oblivion... Many of the reviewers admit that they have not read Ms. Lawrence’s book.

Lawrence told Schiesel:
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.

Meanwhile, BioWare CEO Ray Muzyka told Schiesel:
We’re hurt. We believe in video games as an art form, and on behalf of the 120 people who poured their blood and tears into this game over three years, we’re just really hurt that someone would misrepresent the game without even playing it. All we can hope for is that people who actually play our games will see the truth.

GP: We're delighted to see that Cooper Lawrence has come clean. But we'd also like to know exactly how the Mass Effect beat-down was orchestrated by Fox News. As GamePolitics demonstrated in an earlier case regarding Halo 3, another pyschologist was briefed on what to say just before air time (see: How Fox Morning Show Sensationalized the Halo-in-Church Issue). Did something similar take place in this case?

So far we've received no answers to three questions we posed to Lawrence earlier this week:

1.) Did Fox News brief you on the game, and to what extent?

2.) Were you instructed by Fox News to adopt a position critical of the game for the program?

3.) What study from the University of Maryland are you referring to in your comments?
235 comments

GP on Joystiq: Stand Up & Be Counted

January 25, 2008 -
...the one in which GP explains why EA's decision to fight for Mass Effect means as much to gamers as it does to the video game industry.

Catch it only on Joystiq...
25 comments

Mass Effect Saga Continues: Fox News Says it Has Invited EA

January 25, 2008 -
There's a new twist in the Mass Effect saga...

MTV Multiplayer reports that an unnamed Fox News rep claims the network has invited Electronic Arts to appear:
A Fox News spokesperson, who declined to be named, stated, in full: “Fox News Channel has extended several invitations to EA through a company representative to appear on ‘Live Desk With Martha MacCallum’ to discuss ‘Mass Effect’ and the segment which aired on Monday. We have received no response.”

Meanwhile, EA VP Jeff Brown told MTV's Stephen Totilo that the online response to his protest letter to Fox News “has been a surprise and a little overwhelming.”

Via: Kotaku
108 comments

EA Calls Out Fox News Over Mass Effect Smear

January 24, 2008 -
Jeff Brown (left), VP of Communications for Electronic Arts, has requested that Fox News correct Monday's disgraceful trashing of Mass Effect.

As reported by Kotaku, Brown sent a letter to Teri Van Horn, producer of Fox News' Live Desk program on which the Mass Effect hatchet job was orchestrated. From Brown's letter:
As the parent company of BioWare... EA would like you to set the record straight on a number of errors and misstatements which incorrectly characterize the story and character interactions in Mass Effect.

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...

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...

Brown also named several of Fox's own programs for displaying a level of sexuality far beyond Mass Effect's single, rather tasteful love scene:
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?
211 comments

Fox News Smears Mass Effect

January 22, 2008 -
Like a bad penny, allegations that highly-regarded Xbox 360 title Mass Effect is porn disguised as a video game keep turning up.

The smear campaign crossed over to the mainstream yesterday with a Fox News report which aired on the network's Live Desk program.

Talking head Martha MacCallum hosted the segment, which featured a brief, tense debate between talk show host/author Cooper Lawrence and Spike TV game guy Geoff Keighley. While Keighley did a commendable job defending the game, right from the start it was clear that Mass Effect was in for a beat-down. As the segment opened, a Fox News graphic read:
"Se"Xbox? New Video Game Shows Full Digital Nudity and Sex

MacCallum: ...a new role-playing video game that is leaving NOTHING to the imagination... in some parts of this, you'll see full digital nudity. Imagine! And the ability for the players to engage in graphic sex and the person who's playing the game gets to decide exactly what's going to happen between the two people, if you know what I mean... Basically, Pandora's Box is open. I mean, kids have access to these things... How damaging is it, really?

Lawrence: ...the damage is this. We know that all the research shows that violence has a desensitizing effect. Well, sexuality does too... Here's how they're seeing women. They're seeing them as these objects of desire, as these hot bodies. They don't show women as being valued for anything other than their sexuality. And it's a man in this game deciding how many women he wants to be with.

Keighley: That's completely incorrect... first of all you can actually play as a man or a woman in the game. Cooper, have you ever played Mass Effect?

Lawrence: (giggling) No...

Keighley: ...you mentioned it has full graphical nudity, that's completely incorrect. There's no full nudity... there's the side of an alien boob... it's a small sexual situation in this game which is about two minutes out of a thirty-plus hour experience... you can actually play through this game without the sexual situation ever happening -

Lawrence: (interrupting) Right, and a young boy's going to be choosing not to have sex. That'll be what they choose. I mean, let's be realistic here -

Keighley: Cooper, it's not a simple choice. You don't turn on the game and it says, "would you like to have sex or not?" It's through the evolution of a relationship with characters and the fact that this game has incredible artificial intelligence. You can actually fall in love in this game. It's just like modeling your life...

Lawrence: (interrupting) Darling, I gotta go with the research. And the research says there's a new study out of the University of Maryland right now that says that boys that play video games cannot tell the difference between what they're seeing in the video game and the real world...

Keighley: You're completely misrepresenting the game...

Lawrence: Let me at him, Martha...

Keighley: It's a fantastic game and sex is a small, little part of it.

MacCallum: You know when you buy video games... you have to pick up the box and look at the back for the rating and you have to be involved in what your kids are looking at...

Male Panelist: Who can argue, possibly, that Luke Skywalker meets Debbie Does Dallas is a good thing? It's not. And I'm definitely not going to let Mass Effect in my house...

Female Panelist: I'm not sure why it didn't get an Adults Only rating. That's the highest rating it can have. So, first of all, this board that rates them needs to have their head examined...

2nd Male Panelist: I would argue that the government can not and should not censor everything coming across the web and in video games. At the end of the day... it's up to parents to control what their kids are seeing.

GP: Another disgraceful game bashing from Fox...

GamePolitics has previously demonstrated how shoddily some of these reports are thrown together (see: How Fox Morning Show Sensationalized the Halo-in-Church Issue). Nor are gamers likely to forget Fox's allowing Jack Thompson air time to bash video games while the Virginia Tech massacre was unfolding.

As for Cooper Lawrence's expertise with video game issues? It's apparently nonexistent. She is the author of several books - on dating: The Cult of Perfection: Making Peace with Your Inner Overachiever; Been There, Done That, Kept the Jewelry; The Fixer-upper Man: Turn Mr. Maybe into Mr. Right in 5 Easy Steps; and the unforgettable Cosmo Girl's Quiz Book: All About Guys.

324 comments

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...

Gamers Push Back Against Clueless Conservative

January 16, 2008 -
Conservative pundit Kevin McCullough absorbed one of life's harsh lessons this week:
If you want to condemn, you'd better be right.

McCullough, who savaged Mass Effect with some of the most outrageous nonsense we've ever heard in relation to video games, further raised the ire of the gamer community by following up with nasty generalizations about those who play:
The Gamer-Nerd universe exploded in anger over the tone and a couple of the specifics of my most recent column... If the few who wrote me are indicative of the rest of the gaming universe, we know at least they have passion - for their toy-boxes...

Look, if the Gamer-Nerds need their pervy outlets to find true release and inner peace - then make them drive to the outskirts of town and be forced to frequent those places that no one wants in the community to get them...

The inevitable backlash from the gaming community has popped up on places like Kotaku and in a variety of refutations of McCullough's off-the-wall premise, including this one on GamerDad. And, of course, in individual comments to McCullough's rants.

Penny Arcade, however, may have the most insightful take on what McCullough is up to.
128 comments

Conservative Blogger Claims Mass Effect Offers "Customizable Sodomy"

January 14, 2008 -

Have some video game critics completely given up on the idea of verifying their claims before issuing them?


We ask because we're flabbergasted by what's been said about Xbox 360 role-playing hit Mass Effect in recent days.


GamePolitics reported last week on bizarre accusations by the conservative Cybercast News Service that Mass Effect featured "explicitly graphic sexual intercourse."


That those charges are just wrong didn't stop conservative blogger Kevin McCullough from picking up the CNS nonsense and running with it. McCullough, in fact, tries to turn the alleged porn in Mass Effect into a presidential campaign issue. In a (not so) cleverly-titled Townhall.com article, The "Sex-Box" Race for President, McCullough writes:


[Presidential candidates] all probably assume they have better, much more important, urgent, timely, things to campaign on, but I sure would like to get their individual takes on the new video game that one company is marketing to fifteen year old boys.


GP: Do we really need to point out that Mass Effect is rated "M" for players 17 and older? More from McCullough:


It's called "Mass Effect" and it allows its players... to engage in the most realistic sex acts ever conceived. One can custom design the shape, form, bodies, race, hair style, breast size of the images they wish to "engage" and then watch in crystal clear, LCD, 54 inch screen, HD clarity as the video game "persons" hump in every form, format, multiple, gender-oriented possibility they can think of...


GP: Has McCullough played - or even invested any time at all in researching - Mass Effect? Based on what he has written, we can't imagine that he has. His screed continues:


Here's a question [for the candidates]... "How much moral judgement should the President push into legislative issues that are likely to severely damage our children's innocence, function, and capability?..."


If a pre-teen, teen, young adult, or adult male plays such a game in which the women DO submit without choice, are made to appear as Barbie streetwalkers, and perform whatever act can be imagined, what's to stop that same male from assuming that the women in his "other world" shouldn't be forced to do the same.


...And because of the digital chip age in which we live - "Mass Effect" can be customized to sodomize whatever, whoever, however, the game player wishes.


With it's "over the net" capabilities virtual orgasmic rape is just the push of a button away.


McCullough wraps up with a call for legislation apparently designed to drive Mass Effect developer BioWare out of business:


How refreshing would it be for a President to... put his pen and signature to a bill that dealt with such simulated sex excess in a way that was punitive to its creators to such a degree that they would never recover from it?


GP: We've seen some ill-informed criticisms of video games over the years, but McCullough has definitely raised (or, perhaps, lowered) the bar in that regard.


Once again, for anyone who cares to actually, you know, research the well-known love scene in Mass Effect, here's the video:




354 comments

Conservative Site Charges "Explicitly Graphic Sexual Intercourse" in Mass Effect

January 11, 2008 -

The Cybercast News Service, a conservative site, claims in a report published this morning that best-selling Xbox 360 title Mass Effect contains "explicitly graphic sexual intercourse."


The charge seems to be based on a well-known episode in the game in which there is a romantic liaison between the player's character and an NPC. However, in our view, it's quite a stretch to describe what appears onscreen as explicitly graphic sexual intercourse, which generally denotes hard core pornography.


Mass Effect is far from that.


However, a lawyer (no, not that lawyer) quoted in the article specifically refers to the game as porn. From the CNS piece:


The game is "clearly marketed to minors," Cathy Ruse, a lawyer and senior fellow for legal studies at the Family Research Council, told Cybercast News Service.


"There are cultural implications for feeding porn to kids in this way," ...Ruse said.


In describing the scene, CNS writes:


The playable character can become romantically involved... This storyline culminates in a cutscene in which the characters copulate in full digital nudity.


The article also quotes Bob Waliszewki, described as a media specialist with Focus on the Family. Waliszewki seems especially troubled by the fact that two women are involved in the love scene: 


Unfortunately, Mass Effect... even goes so far as to allow homosexuality to be on par with heterosexuality and heterosexuality outside of its proper context of marriage.


Attorney Ruse also painted the love scene in the game as porn in the legal sense:


Most states have what's called 'Harmful to Minors' laws on the books that say that selling sexual material that a jury would deem 'patently offensive to minors, which lacks literary, artistic, political or scientific value.' ... might be prosecutable.


We need state and local prosecutors with spines and backbones to prosecute some of these companies that are violating the law.


Regarding CyberCast News Service, SourceWatch reports that:


Cybercast News Service (CNS) is a subsidiary of the conservative news monitoring group, the Media Research Center (MRC)...


Media Research Center Inc. is a conservative media watchdog group run by president and founder Brent Bozell. The Center... is funded by larger right-wing foundations...


Brent Bozell is also the founder of the Parents Television Council.


Here's the video. Do you find it to be "explicitly graphic sexual intercourse?"




205 comments

Shortest Ban in History: Singapore Clears Mass Effect for Sale

November 16, 2007 -
It seems like just yesterday that GamePolitics reported that new Xbox 360 release Mass Effect had been banned in Singapore over a rather mild lesbian sex scene.

Actually, it was the day before yesterday.

But, as reported by Today Online, the game with the sexy, blue alien has now been green-lighted in Singapore:
After fanning the ire of the video gaming community with the ban of Mass Effect, the authorities have done a U-turn by rating the highly-anticipated futuristic space adventure by Microsoft and allowing its sale in Singapore.

In a statement on Friday, the Media Development Authority (MDA) said the game had been reviewed by the Board of Film Censors (BFC) and is now rated M18. The decision comes ahead of its planned implementation of a classification system for video games.

Singapore currently has no rating systed in place for games. Prior to its reversal of course, Singapore was also the only country in the world to have banned Mass Effect. Germaine Ong of Singapore-based gaming mag Gameaxis told Today Online:
The ratings system is a long time coming but any step now is a positive one...

This is significant because gamers would have obtained the game anyway, through parallel importers or illegal means. Now, gamers and parents are able to make a decision on which games are suitable rather than have the games prescribed to them by the authorities.

Ian Tan, a Southeast Asian Xbox 360 exec added:
We welcome the MDA's decision to allow Mass Effect for sale in Singapore with an M18 rating. We will continue to work with the MDA to promote responsible gaming here.

USA Today has more.

Report: Singapore Bans Mass Effect Over Lesbian Love Scene

November 14, 2007 -
BioWare's Mass Effect has been banned in Singapore, according to GameAxis Online, a site operated on the island nation.

Apparently, the game's widely-publicized love scene between two women - one of whom is a blue-hued alien - didn't go down well with government censors. From the GameAxis Online report:
If you were expecting a raunchy Lust Caution movie-inspired sex scene, then you're going to come away disappointed. Of course, when a video like the one shown in Kotaku makes its round do you really expect our censorship board to let the game pass through its net? Of course they don't!

So here's the sad news coming from official sources. Mass Effect, the wonderfully crafted RPG from Bioware is now officially BANNED! The irony though, is that the ban probably only serve to intensify the game's demand here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Am0vf6GeXI
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Andrew EisenYes, the Wii U upscales but rendering in a higher resolution looks a hell of a lot better.08/01/2014 - 10:35pm
Andrew EisenIt's pretty. Lots of videos of it floating around. Just search "Xenoblade dolphin" and you'll find them.08/01/2014 - 10:32pm
ZippyDSMleeThe WII upscales tho. Matthew: It might be becue cartoonish desings do not age as fast as presudo realisim.08/01/2014 - 10:29pm
Matthew WilsonPeople who have run the Mario Galaxy games on a emulator have said they look better then most xb1/ps4 games when upscaled, so it would be interesting to see a upscaled version of Xenoblade08/01/2014 - 9:24pm
Andrew EisenHeck, it would probably sell better to newbies anyway. Even with its awesome art direction, the game looked dated when it came out years ago. I imagine an SD version would be a tougher sell.08/01/2014 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenBecause it would be cool, would serve the game's fantastic art direction well and encourage people who've already played it to buy it again.08/01/2014 - 7:42pm
ZippyDSMleeWhy bother with an HD relese just repack the damn thing and promote it since it will play on the WIIU anyway....08/01/2014 - 7:04pm
Andrew EisenPlus, with Nintendo carrying the Wii U almost all by itself, it could help plug one of the unfortunately inevitable release schedule gaps.08/01/2014 - 3:23pm
Andrew EisenAn HD re-release would be cool though. It's a great game (and quite the looker, especially when up-rezzed) and more people should play it (the game had a limited release at a time when the Wii was all but dead an buried).08/01/2014 - 3:21pm
E. Zachary KnightSo no, people are not going to need to play the Wii game to undstand or enjoy the Wii U game.08/01/2014 - 1:27pm
E. Zachary KnightFrom what I understand, the two games have as much to do with eachother as Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy 2.08/01/2014 - 1:26pm
MaskedPixelanteIt's my secret hope that Nintendo announces Xenoblade HD to be released in the leadup to Xenoblade Chronicles X, or at least a mass market version of the first game so that people aren't going into this one blind.08/01/2014 - 12:40pm
PHX CorpI'm going to do a test stream later today, if anyone is intrested07/31/2014 - 2:40pm
Andrew EisenYes, I'm such a big Nintendo dork that I read Nintendo's quarterly financial reports.07/31/2014 - 2:09pm
Andrew EisenCool tidbit - Mario Kart 8 sales account for more than half of total Wii U software sales for the last quarter even though it was only available for the last third.07/31/2014 - 2:09pm
Andrew EisenStill a pretty cool promotion. Unfortunately for me, I'm not interested in purchasing Mario Kart 8 and I already owned or didn't want any of the free games on offer.07/31/2014 - 1:43pm
Andrew EisenInteresting that EU had 10 games to choose from while North America only had four.07/31/2014 - 1:41pm
MaskedPixelanteIt certainly worked, I probably would never have bought Mario Kart 8 if it didn't come with a free copy of Wind Waker HD.07/31/2014 - 1:14pm
Andrew EisenI imagine will see similar promotions like "Buy Mario Kart 8 get a download code for one of these specific games" but almost certainly not for all of its (however you would define) biggest releases.07/31/2014 - 11:24am
MaskedPixelanteI wonder if Nintendo is going to be doing "buy one get one free" promos for all their biggest releases going forward.07/31/2014 - 10:48am
 

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