MCV’s more than happy to poke fun at some of the silly reporting about video games in the mainstream press, but there are times when ignorance of the sector can stray into dangerous territory.
And video games coverage rarely gets scarier than this.
Clearly not wanting to beat around the bush, Fox News is currently running a piece entitled ‘Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World?’, and it opens with the following gambit:
"Parents had better beware: There’s a Bulletstorm on the horizon."
Much worse is to come, however. It immediately moves on to psychologist and author Carol Lieberman, who makes the following quite astonishing claim:
The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games.
Dr Jerry Weichman, a clinical psychologist at the Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Southern California, adds:
If a younger kid experiences Bulletstorm’s explicit language and violence, the damage could be significant.
Violent video games like Bulletstorm have the potential to send the message that violence and insults with sexual innuendos are the way to handle disputes and problems."
Entertainment Consumers Association president Hal Halpin later comes out in defence of the industry’s right to produce strictly adult content.
Between a great ratings system, parental controls on the consoles and the major retailers inhibiting the sale of Mature-rated games to minors, the matter is really one for parents and adults to consider, individually,” Halpin states.
I respect the creative rights of game developers to make a game like Bulletstorm in the same way that I appreciate Quentin Tarantino’s right to make over-the-top movies like Kill Bill."
Such sensationalist reporting sadly lessens the chance of what could be a very meaningful debate. Bulletstorm, like many films and books before it, relishes in the absurdity of the grotesque. Certainly its content is highly unsuitable for those under the age of 18.
It would be good if we were able to have a reasonable debate about its suitability for those over that age. Outrageous and totally unsubstantiated claims like those made by Dr Weichman make that very difficult.
UPDATE: Attribution of quotations corrected