An alarming article on Fox News today warns parents that a mix of sex and violence in the upcoming Epic Games shooter Bulletstorm could make children predisposed to engaging in sexual violence themselves. Titled “Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World”, the article claims that naming over-the-top killing moves after sex acts will connect the two depravities and turn a child’s putty-like mind into a real-life rape-obsessed murder machine: “The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games,” says the article. On top of the repetitive complaints about the psychological effects of video games, the article criticizes the game’s gratuitous use of gore and profanity.
As many video game fans probably know, Bulletstorm, a new shooter from Gears of War developer Epic Games, features an experience system called the “skill kill” system, which rewards players for killing their enemies in as many different ways as possible using different combinations of weapons and the environment. Different combinations have special names and, in keeping with the game’s over-the-top theme, some of those names reference sex and other “colorful” actions. Fox News highlighted two specific moves from the game; cutting an enemy in half is called a “Topless”, and a “gang bang” refers to any type of move that kills multiple enemies at once.
Frankly, the article’s argument is paper-thin. There are no references to any real evidence of any real connection between sexual violence in video games and the development sexually violent tendencies in children and young adults. There isn’t even a generic clinical study for them to reference, just a few psychologists speaking in generalities: “Carol Lieberman, a psychologist and book author, told FoxNews.com that sexual situations and acts in video games — highlighted so well in Bulletstorm — have led to real-world sexual violence.” The author never takes the time support their “expert” commentators. With such damning accusations, it’s fair to assume that if the author had the facts on their side, they would have used them.
There is one other problem with Fox’s argument – Bulletstorm does not depict rape. The connection between sex and violence in the game, at least in their argument, is in name only. Bulletstorm is definitely violent and it’s certainly crass, but there doesn’t seem to be anything that would encourage impressionable players to engage in sexually violent behavior. The argument against the GTA series and other violent games in the past has been based on the idea that engaging in acts of virtual violence encourages young players to do the same in real life. There is no rape scene in Bulletstorm. The violence in the game is, for the most part, not possible to replicate in real life. (I’ve never seen two grenades connected by chain, but I suppose it is possible to make that)
The content of this article is, unfortunately, not at all surprising. Bulletstorm is a game geared towards adults, which is not a concept that Fox understands. Still, it’s disheartening to see video games get blamed for everything that’s wrong with our society.
Bulletstorm will start corrupting the world’s youth on February 22nd.