The Fox News Channel recently invited longtime gaming journalist Geoff Keighley, who has played BioWare's Mass Effect, and radio talk show host and author Cooper Lawrence, who has not played Mass Effect, to discuss Mass Effect. The discussion was moderated by an anchor who has not played Mass Effect, and was followed by a round table consisting of four panelists who have not played Mass Effect.
The topic of the piece is the Xbox 360 game's much sensationalized sexual encounter, a brief moment among an extremely length campaign. Lawrence rattles off a list of unsubstantiated—and generally unaccepted—"facts" relating to the average age of gamers and the links from virtual violence and sexuality to real-life behavior.
She doesn't even know of the game's option to play as a female character equal in ability to the male protagonist—she claims the game depicts women as mere objects to be conquered, unaware of even the most basic of Mass Effect's features.
What is really astonishing is how taken aback Lawrence is when Keighley asks if she has ever played the game. Not only has she not played it, she sounds almost offended that he would even consider that she has tried to gain an informed perspective on the material she condemns so vehemently …
Were you sufficiently enraged by the Fox News Channel's recent travesty of journalism revolving around Mass Effect? If not, please go acquaint yourself. Then, you can read this open letter issued by Jeff Brown, VP of communications at Electronic Arts, the new parent company of Mass Effect developer BioWare. Brown addressed it Fox News' Teri VanHorn and the show she produces, The Live Desk with Martha MacCallum. Brown forwarded the email on to us today.
Brown lists a number of factual errors made by MacCallum, guest Cooper Lawrence, and the members of the invited panel, none of whom had ever played Mass Effect. "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," he writes. "The resulting coverage was insulting to the men and women who spent years creating a game which is acclaimed by critics for its high creative standards."
Brown seems understandably incredulous that Mass Effect's relatively tame sexual situations—which one panelist claimed should receive an Adults Only rating—could be panned on Fox. "Do you watch the Fox Network? Do you watch Family Guy? Have you ever seen The OC?" he asks, rather pointedly. "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?"