Earlier this week, Fox News ran a colourful piece on Epic's OTT shooter Bulletstorm, in which the game was accused of, among other things, helping to breed a generation of rapists.
On the face of it, there was little effort to present a balanced argument – a good, old-fashioned tabloid lynching was clearly the goal from the get-go. However, it turns out that Fox - whose motto reads "Fair & Balanced" - did have more even-handed material on hand, but just chose not to use it.
According to IndustryGamers, the network approached TechSavvy Global's Scott Steinberg for comment prior to publication. He duly offered a considered, sensible response.
When asked whether he believed Bulletstorm's violence went too far, Steinberg replied firmly in the negative.
"It's an unapologetically and straightforwardly satirical game meant for discerning adults that's written in the vernacular of the times and speaks in a cultural context that's the same as that its target audience has long been indoctrinated in by mainstream media and pop culture," he explained.
"From Saw to South Park, look at what passes for modern entertainment at the movies or on basic cable, let alone on the internet – this isn't the first blockbuster (or big-budget game, for that matter) to aim below the belt or slather on the salty language.
"Yes, it's shameless, but also knowingly so," he continued, "because it actively aims to parody much of both the gaming field and larger cultural zeitgeist's more asinine elements.
"The designers make no secret of their intentions, or to whom the title caters – The Oregon Trail, this isn't. The giant M for Mature rating on the front of the box says it all: Only discerning adults need apply."
A thoughtful, well-qualified statement, to be sure, but it didn't make the cut. The musings of psychologist and author Carole Lieberman, however, did.
"The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games," she bluntly opined.
And in a revealing deconstruction of Fox's journalistic process, Rock Paper Shotgun reported that Fox also heavily edited the comments of M2 Research analyst Billy Pidgeon.
In the published piece, he was quoted as saying, "Games without sufficient quality of gameplay - games that include highly objectionable violent or sexual content - often pump up the level of this kind of content to gain media attention. This tactic typically fails, as can be seen in the poor sales performance of titles such as BMX XXX and Postal."
According to Pidgeon, the text he actually delivered to Fox read, "The market will favor games with quality gameplay and content, so if Bulletstorm is a good game, gamers 17 and older will likely buy it. Games without sufficient quality of gameplay - games that include highly objectionable violent or sexual content - often pump up the level of this kind of content to gain media attention..."
Finally, returning to Lieberman, the author has seen some mud fly in her direction following the Fox piece.
As noted by Destructoid, her book, Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets, boasted a five star Amazon user score prior to the interview. That rating has since plummeted, after angry gamers hijacked the listing with one star write-ups.
"The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in book covers," wrote H. D. User.