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Fox pundit: gaming fuels sex crime

The Bulletstorm backlash starts here.

As sure as night follows day, tabloid journalism was always going to be snapping at the heels of Epic's forthcoming OTT shooter Bulletstorm. Fox News is first out of the gate, accusing the game, and others like it, of being responsible for a recent spike in sex crimes.

In an article titled 'Is Bulletstorm the worst video game in the world?', Fox News pundit John Brandon corrals a number of expert talking heads to speculate on the possible social impact of the game's outrageous blood-letting.

"If a younger kid experiences Bulletstorm's explicit language and violence, the damage could be significant," claimed Dr. Jerry Weichman, a clinical psychologist at the Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Southern California.

"Violent video games like Bulletstorm have the potential to send the message that violence and insults with sexual innuendos are the way to handle disputes and problems."

Carol Lieberman, a psychologist and book author, went one better, proposing a link between gaming and increased instances of rape.

"The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games," she said.

Woah, hold up. That's quite a claim. Good thing Lieberman qualified it with verifiable research data. Oh wait, she didn't.

Neither Epic, developer People Can Fly or publisher EA chose to comment for the piece, but Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association, added a more sober angle to the discussion.

"Between a great ratings system, parental controls on the consoles and the major retailers inhibiting the sale of Mature-rated games to minors, the matter is really one for parents and adults to consider, individually," he insisted.

"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."

The game's publisher, EA, has since chipped in, echoing Halpin's stance. The full statement, handed to Game Informer, read, "As you know, Bulletstorm is a work of entertainment fiction that takes place in the 26th century on the abandoned fictitious paradise planet Stygia, where our heroes fight mutants, monsters, flesh-eating plants and gigantic dinosaurs.

"Epic, People Can Fly and EA are avid supporters of the ESA and believe in the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) rating system. We believe in and abide by the policies put in place by the ESRB.

"Bulletstorm is rated M for Mature for blood and gore, intense violence, partial nudity, sexual themes, strong language and use of alcohol. The game and its marketing adhere to all guidelines set forth by the ESRB; both are designed for people 17+. Never is the game marketed to children.

"Epic, People Can Fly and EA support the right of artists to create works of entertainment fiction for consumers of all ages, including adults who enjoy action adventures like Bulletstorm. Much like Tarantino's Kill Bill or Rodriguez's Sin City, this game is an expression of creative entertainment for adults."

Should you be unfamiliar with the People Can Fly-developed FPS, the clip below should offer a little insight as to what to expect.

For all those willing to risk being transformed into a sex criminal, Bulletstorm launches on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on 22nd February.