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EA calls Fox out on its BS, goes to bat for Mass Effect

5:52 PM on 01.23.2008 // Jim Sterling
  @JimSterling

Yesterday we decided to post the frankly disgusting news segment that was aired on Fox, in which the game Mass Effect was unprofessionally and underhandedly mauled by a panel of self-proclaimed experts who had zero expertise in the field of videogames. Well, one thing Fox probably didn't know (along with everything else) was that game developer BioWare just so happens to be part of the corporate machine known and feared as Electronic Arts, and EA VP of communications Jeff Brown had a few things to say in a letter sent to the network.

The letter asks Live Desk producer Teri Vanhorn to clarify the "serious errors" made in the show's segment, rightfully claiming they were "insulting" to the hard working developers of the game. I think my favorite quote has to be "As video games continue to take audiences away from television, we expect to see more TV news stories warning parents about the corrupting influence of interactive entertainment." That really gets to the heart of the matter. 

EA highlights several of the glaring mistakes made by Live Desk, including the false use of the term "graphic sex" to describe a scene which is tamer than the shows Fox itself puts out during prime time hours.

After the jump, you can read the letter shared with the masses by Kotaku, but first, we'd like to commend EA for going to bat for its property, something which games companies need to do more and more as vicious and motivated people attempt to slander and do damage to the industry we love. Say what you will about Electronic Arts, but it did the right thing here, and didn't even threaten legal action, which Fox practically deserves for the careless and childish behavior it displayed with this "controversy."

As the parent company of BioWare, the studio which created the game, 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. It's also worth noting that the game requires players to develop complex relationships before characters can become intimate and players can chose to avoid the love scenes altogether.

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. Mass Effect and all related marketing has been reviewed by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and rated Mature - appropriate for players 17-years and older. ESRB routinely counsels retailers on requesting proof of age in selling M-rated titles and the system has been lauded by members of Congress and the Federal Trade Commission. In practical terms, the ratings work as well or better than those used for warning viewers about television content.

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. As video games continue to take audiences away from television, we expect to see more TV news stories warning parents about the corrupting influence of interactive entertainment. But this represents a new level of recklessness.

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?

This isn't a legal threat; it's an appeal to your sense of fairness. We're asking FNC to correct the record on Mass Effect.

Sincerely,

Jeff Brown
Vice President of Communications
Electronic Arts, Inc.



Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
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