A Fair and Balanced Consideration of Mass Effect

The Fox News Channel recently invited longtime gaming journalist Geoff Keighley, who has played BioWare's Mass Effect, and radio talk show host and author Cooper Lawrence, who has not played Mass Effect, to discuss Mass Effect. The discussion was moderated by an anchor who has not played Mass Effect, and was followed by a round table consisting of four panelists who have not played Mass Effect.

If that sounds like a recipe for success, observe. But be forwarned: you may get angry.

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The topic of the piece is the Xbox 360 game's much sensationalized sexual encounter, a brief moment among an extremely length campaign. Lawrence rattles off a list of unsubstantiated--and generally unaccepted--"facts" relating to the average age of gamers and the links from virtual violence and sexuality to real-life behavior.

She doesn't even know of the game's option to play as a female character equal in ability to the male protagonist--she claims the game depicts women as mere objects to be conquered, unaware of even the most basic of Mass Effect's features.

What is really astonishing is how taken aback Lawrence is when Keighley asks if she has ever played the game. Not only has she not played it, she sounds almost offended that he would even consider that she has tried to gain an informed perspective on the material she condemns so vehemently .

Keighley presents himself well, and is clearly informed, but he is given little face time and is quickly hushed up to move onto one of the most ridiculous panels I have ever seen on television.

There does not seem to be a single fact that the Fox panelists ever get right. From the beginning, they suggest game ratings are only printed on the back of the box.

"This made me feel old, watching this," exclaimed one panelist, inexplicably. "What happened to Atari, and pinball, and Pac-Man?" Well, whoever you are (none of the panelists were ever even identified), they are all available in any number of compilation packs at any game retailer, as well as downloadable through numerous console and PC game services.

"Who can argue that Luke Skywalker meets Debbie Does Dallas is a good thing?" one panelist asks. It's an interesting question, but one that, like all the other questions raised in this fair and balanced piece, has absolutely no bearing on the topic at hand.