January 31, 2008

Fox News on Mass Effect: Idiocy +12

By now most gamers are almost done being literally angry with rage at Fox News over their, ahem, "fair and balanced" report on alleged digital nudity in Mass Effect.

(For anyone who hasn't seen it yet, check out video of the segment here. If you are a gamer and somehow have not seen it yet, try not to wake the neighbors with your indignant outbursts.)

The latest act in this drama is that one of Fox's expert commentators, Cooper Lawrence, is trying to stem a tide of negative reviews of her new book on Amazon.com by clarifying to the gaming community her role on the show.

"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," Lawrence said in a statement released to MTV News.

In other words, she wasn't busting on Mass Effect, which she admits she has never played, but on all video games ever. Something tells me this is not a helpful strategy.

My main problem with the logic Lawrence tries to use is that it seems this same argument could exist in any decade. 1920s: alcohol. 1940s: women in the workforce. 1950s: comics and rock 'n' roll. 1980s: rap/hip-hop. There's always something that "is having a (vague and largely unproven) negative impact on the youth of America" and therefore should be regulated or banned. Video games are just the latest scapegoat.

But the most egregious statement in this clip, imho, comes from its host, Martha MacCallum. She seems to think that we've hit a sorry state of affairs when parents actually have to pay attention to their children.

In our modern world of working moms and Blackberry-equipped dads, who's got time to watch the kids? And without a hovering parent, those rascals will get into any darn dangerous thing left lying about the house.

So how about guns? R-rated DVDs? Prescription meds? Laptops? Heck, by that argument no one should have a sharp pair of scissors hanging about for fear the kiddies will poke an eye out when they're home alone.

Honestly, I've seen more damaging things done to a kid's psyche in gym class than he or she would ever experience while playing an RPG.

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