If the old adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity is true, Electronic Arts' marketing department must be busting out the bubbly. That's because one of its highest-profile first-quarter releases, Bulletstorm, was just roundly slammed in a scathing article on FoxNews.com.
Fox News disapproves of Bulletstorm's linking of extreme violence and sexual innuendo.
Titled "Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World?" the piece criticizes the game for linking sex and violence via innuendo-laden awards in its skillshot system. Award names for feats of in-game carnage include Gag Reflex, Rear Entry, Drilldo, Mile High Club, Gang Bang, and Topless.
The article then goes on to quote two experts who decry the game as being potentially harmful. Dr. Jerry Weichman, a psychologist at the Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Southern California, told FoxNews.com that "If a younger kid experiences Bulletstorm's explicit language and violence, the damage could be significant."
Carol Lieberman, a psychologist and book author, went one step further, linking sexual content in games to a spike in sexual assaults. "The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games," she said. (In fact, statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice show rapes declined by nearly 40 percent in 2009.)
FoxNews.com also contacted the Entertainment Consumer Association's Hal Halpin, who equated the ultraviolence in Bulletstorm to that found in some films. "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," said Halpin.
When the subject of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) came up, Halpin defended the current system as it is. Fox also quoted University of Maryland professor Melanie Killen, who advocates the regulation of game sales to minors.
"The marketing is clearly aimed at children and young adolescents," Killen said. "Politicians were organizing efforts to address violent video games prior to the presidential election but got distracted by the election. It is time for senators and representatives to come back to the issue."