EA Responds to Fox News Report on Mass Effect: "A New Level of Recklessness"

Were you sufficiently enraged by the Fox News Channel's recent travesty of journalism revolving around Mass Effect? If not, please go acquaint yourself.

Then, you can read this open letter issued by Jeff Brown, VP of communications at Electronic Arts, the new parent company of Mass Effect developer BioWare. Brown addressed it Fox News' Teri VanHorn and the show she produces, The Live Desk with Martha MacCallum. Brown forwarded the email on to us today.

Brown lists a number of factual errors made by MacCallum, guest Cooper Lawrence, and the members of the invited panel, none of whom had ever played Mass Effect. "EA

would like you to set the record straight on a number of errors and

misstatements which incorrectly characterize the story and character

interactions in Mass Effect," he writes. "The resulting coverage was insulting to the men and women who spent

years creating a game which is acclaimed by critics for its high

creative standards."

Brown seems understandably incredulous that Mass Effect's relatively tame sexual situations--which one panelist claimed should receive an Adults Only rating--could be panned on Fox. "Do you watch the Fox Network? Do you watch Family Guy? Have you ever

seen The OC?" he asks, rather pointedly. "Do you think the sexual situations in Mass Effect are any

more graphic than scenes routinely aired on those shows? Do you

honestly believe that young people have more exposure to Mass Effect

than to those prime time shows?"

Finally, Brown appeals to the station's "sense of fairness"--a sadly tall order for the organization that paints itself as "fair and balanced."

For the full text, continue on:

Teri VanHorn

The Live Desk with Martha MacCallum

Fox News Channel

Ms VanHorn,

I'm writing to request a clarification of serious errors FNC made in a

story which aired about the video game Mass Effect. (See attachment)

As the parent company of BioWare, the studio which created the game, EA

would like you to set the record straight on a number of errors and

misstatements which incorrectly characterize the story and character

interactions in Mass Effect.

Errors include the following:

  • Your headline above the televised story read: "New videogame

    shows full digital nudity and sex."

    • Fact: Mass Effect does not include explicit or frontal nudity.

      Love scenes in non-interactive sequences include side and profile shots

      - a vantage frequently used in many prime-time television shows. It's

      also worth noting that the game requires players to develop complex

      relationships before characters can become intimate and players can

      chose to avoid the love scenes altogether.

  • FNC voice-over reporter says: "You'll see full digital nudity

    and the ability for players to engage in graphic sex."

    • Fact: Sex scenes in Mass Effect are not graphic. These scenes

      are very similar to sex sequences frequently seen on network television

      in prime time.

  • FNC reporter says: "Critics say Mass Effect is being marketed to

    kids and teenagers."

    • Fact: That is flat out false. Mass Effect and all related

      marketing has been reviewed by the Entertainment Software Rating Board

      (ESRB) and rated Mature - appropriate for players 17-years and older.

      ESRB routinely counsels retailers on requesting proof of age in selling

      M-rated titles and the system has been lauded by members of Congress and

      the Federal Trade Commission. In practical terms, the ratings work as

      well or better than those used for warning viewers about television

      content.

  • Other sources used in the segment made similar incorrect

    statements about the game. Judging by the inaccuracy of their comments,

    they have had zero experience with Mass Effect and are largely ignorant

    about videogames, the people who play them, and the ESRB system that

    governs their ratings and sales.

>[?

The resulting coverage was insulting to the men and women who spent

years creating a game which is acclaimed by critics for its high

creative standards. As video games continue to take audiences away from

television, we expect to see more TV news stories warning parents about

the corrupting influence of interactive entertainment. But this

represents a new level of recklessness.

Do you watch the Fox Network? Do you watch Family Guy? Have you ever

seen The OC? Do you think the sexual situations in Mass Effect are any

more graphic than scenes routinely aired on those shows? Do you

honestly believe that young people have more exposure to Mass Effect

than to those prime time shows?

This isn't a legal threat; it's an appeal to your sense of fairness.

We're asking FNC to correct the record on Mass Effect.

Sincerely,

Jeff Brown

Vice President of Communications

Electronic Arts, Inc.