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Fox ignites Mass Effect "SexBox" fiasco

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

There's a very interesting brouhaha developing around Edmonton-based BioWare's recently released Xbox 360 game, Mass Effect. Even before its launch, the sci-fi role-playing game created a minor stir when word leaked out that a sex scene between two characters was included in its storyline. What made it even more sensationalistic was that if the player chose to go through the game as a female character, the sex scene would end up involving two women. This was too much for the moralists at Fox News, who went to town on the game in a segment dubbed "SexBox" that aired on Monday. The best quote had to come from a guest panelist who referred to the game as "Luke Skywalker meets Debbie Does Dallas."

Electronic Arts, which owns BioWare, fired back with a letter to Fox that corrected many of the factual errors made by the network in its segment, particularly by an "expert" on the subject, author Cooper Lawrence. Jeff Brown, the publisher’s vice president of communications, also issued the following statement yesterday:

"EA is under new management and our CEO John Riccitiello has made it clear that we’re going to stand up for our people, studios and products. We’re not looking for a fight but if someone is telling lies about our products and maligning our creative teams, we’re going to step up and correct the record.

"Cooper Lawrence is ignorant. She doesn’t know anything about Mass Effect but there are 100 people in Edmonton, Alberta who dedicated years to making that game. They’ve got names, faces and reputations – and they’ve been slandered."

Fans of the game have also shot back, adding hundreds of negative reviews to Cooper's book, The Cult of Perfection, on Amazon.com. Cooper, as well as the segment's host both admitted to never having played Mass Effect, but both damned the game harshly. The plot thickens...

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Matt Innes

The TV networks love to deride video games. It's hard not to think that it has less to do with the content of the games themselves, which are really no worse than network television, than the fact that games are becoming a bigger business than television.

Interactive entertainment is just more compelling than passive entertainment and the networks don't know what to do aside from running "American Idol" style phone-in shows and complaining about the competition.

Posted January 25, 2008 03:06 PM

I've actually played the game

Halifax

It's a very good RPG style game. It's also rated M, that means NO STORE SHOULD BE SELLING THIS TO MINORS! So where's the beef here?

The "sex scene" if you'd call it that, shows the rear and torso of the women. You'd get more flesh from a Victoria Secret catalog. Fox must be getting low on material again.

Posted January 25, 2008 06:59 PM

Jordan

Winnipeg

Nice statement, EA...way to point things out to the same people that saw the report instead of just complaining about the segment.

Posted January 25, 2008 07:02 PM

Glenn

Faux News pretty much says it all propaganda organ for the Bush Admin... pretty much single handedly started the war in Iraq, and now they are targeting Iran... Why worry about a bunch of clowns who think REAL illegal killing is OK, but two women making love has the jowls of indignation flapping like Jabba the Hut.

Posted January 26, 2008 02:23 PM

Ben Lawrence

That report was completely misleading.

The 'sex' scene was the whole of 7 seconds long, and featured:
A. A female buttocks
B. The side of a female breast

Oh please, stop the horror. I'm scarred for life, and I'm going to be lecherous sexist pervert for the rest of my life.
Seriously.

Not to mention it was completely optional; in which you'd have to go through about 300 different conversations just to set the plot to that point.
No more Fox for me.

Posted January 26, 2008 02:27 PM

Mark

Halifax

This reaction to Mass Effect has, in my opinion, less to do with a threat to TV superiority, and more to do with what gets Fox News' audience in a frothing rage-fest. The piece does nothing more than reaffirm ignorant individuals their own impression of videogames.

Mass Effect's "sex" scene is about as tame as network television soft-porn. As an aside, Mass Effect's violence is also remarkably soft when measured by the same standard; CSI, anyone?

For the near future, those making the news and reporting it will continue to cling onto videogames as a go-to issue to periodically rally audiences around them. But at some point the people in charge will be replaced with those who grew up playing videogames, and this sort of sensationalist ignorance will be regarded as nothing more than just that.

Posted January 28, 2008 08:12 AM

Jason

What are ratings used for? I mean really? PArents and older 'mature' people tell the "young'ins" they need to follow the ERSB ratings. Now, it seems like everyone is completely forgeting about the rating system. Video game production companies don't 'always ' have to make games in favor with the parents, like the nintendo is doing. I found this little stunt a cry for attention, or publicity stunt by FOX News a little too extreme. I would understand if it were another rating like 13+ or E, but it wasn't so their is no excuse. These are things to be expected. It's given an extreme rating because it has 'explicit material' in the game, and another thing people are forgetting; the Mature rating ('M') is the same rating as Restricted rating ('R') only for a movie instead of a video game. We need to start focusing keeping our eyes open, and stop taking hits at vg companies, because they choose to put a sex scene in a rated 'M' video game. MAybe some people should start using some 'maturity' themselves.

Posted January 28, 2008 11:45 AM

Garet

Winnipeg

"Luke Skywalker meets Debbie Does Dallas."? What is this, the 70's?

Posted January 28, 2008 02:05 PM

Jason

Obviously, they think the world is in some time warp, and they're still stuck with their bell bottom pants, and their 'fro fixin'and their tight shirt life style. Let them dwell on the 70's. Where people like 'them' should stay.

Posted January 28, 2008 02:17 PM

Tim

Winnipeg

As marketing to gamers, it won't work anyway. People who play video games do not normally respond to sexual stimuli. This is a clear attempt to get us breeders to stop surfing for porn and take up video gaming. That won't work either.

Posted January 28, 2008 04:05 PM

Stephen Lipic

Foremost, I was long ago, and presently still am, amazed Fox News is taken seriously. I mock people who watch it in their face.

Now then, sex in video games has A) been present for some time now and B) not really surprising considering that every other vestige of our culture is permeated by it. Nobody made a reportage on the sex in Fable, released on XBox.

In Fable, you get wives and mistresses and there are (screen blackout) sex scenes and a statistic sheet that keeps track of your 'conquests'.

Fable is old news now. I was chuckling when I read this article because it was immediately apparent that the people complaining are A) idiots because they are EVIDENTLY talking AUTHORITATIVELY about things they don't know anything about and B) oblivious to the world around them, because no one who reads the 'M' for Mature rating level on video games and buys it for their kids should not be the least bit surprised that the game has explicit material.

Posted January 28, 2008 05:52 PM

I've never actually played the game...yet...

Winnipeg

I've never played the game, but now that I know that there's sex involved in it, I'm definitely going to buy it right away!!!

I'd like to thank FOX NEWS for spreading the word! Keep it up! If it wasn't for FOX, I would've never known about the Hot Coffee Mod in Grand Theft Auto!!! Thank you! Thank you!!!

Posted January 29, 2008 12:26 PM

Smexy gamer

Halifax

Ok we should all have a Mass Effect smexy parteh. FOX news, you're the best! Thanks for inlighting us on your 'news breaking' story and coverage. Just remember, while you waste time on a virtual reality sex incident, while hundreds of soldiers are killing in the middle east, or are being killed themselves. What wonderful life...

Posted January 29, 2008 03:55 PM

Claudio

Windsor,Ontario

I'm beginning to doubt if interactive entertainment will ever be seen as a legitimate form of entertainment.

I can't understand why interactive entertainment simply cannot shake this stigma of being something that's purely meant for juvenile audiences. Literature and films both provide a wide range of content aimed at satisfying our particular tastes. There are kids books and films, murder mysteries for those of us who like a little suspense, romance novels/films, action, adventure...you name it. Whatever appeals to you, you will no doubt find a film or book that has it. So what is so wrong with the idea of games trying to accomplish the same thing? Why can't game developers attempt to satisfy our varying tastes in genres without having to run a gauntlet of parent groups, church groups, politicians, sensationalists, etc., all hell-bent on convincing the masses that it's fundamentally wrong to do so?

I (and many in my generation) began gaming in the 80's. We are now in our 30's and 40's and many of us are still gamers. Now isn't it possible that our tastes have changed somewhat through the years? Not to say I can't still have fun running around as a plumber or a guy in green tights, because in truth I still do. But should games be limited to that? Is it wrong for me to want to also enjoy a little bit of romantic space opera now and then?

Posted January 31, 2008 03:25 PM

Peter Nowak

Toronto

Well put Claudio. I'm a bit more optimistic and believe that games WILL eventually be on par with other entertainment, it's just going to take a little longer. When those of us in our 30s and 40s, the first generation to grow up on video games, get into our 50s and 60s and start running media organizations, there's going to be a very big change in attitude. This is the sort of thing that has to come from the top down. Fortunately, I believe it's an inequity that kids today won't have to put up with when we're in charge.

Posted January 31, 2008 03:38 PM

Nune

Kitchener

I'm probably digressing, but there's no news here. Fox "News" is in the habit of making news for, and of, themselves. How else would they get to be news on other news media?
Magazine tabloids do it all the time - and often get sued in the process. I think what we need is rating for news-worthiness. Or, Fox should step (fully and exclusively) into "Entertainment News". Then, perhaps people wouldn't be so shocked or offended by their presenting this, or any other, issue out of proportion, as they do so often anyway.

Posted February 22, 2008 09:16 PM

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