The lights are on
Another violent game has found itself in the cross-hairs of news
media’s scrutiny. This time FoxNews is criticizing Epic Games/People Can
Fly’s blood symphony Bulletstorm. The game sports some of the foulest
language in video games, rewards players for shooting enemies in the
gonads, and contains blood-infused sexual innuendos. All this has
FoxNews hot, bothered, and talking with the experts about Bulletstorm’s
supposed dangers. Publisher Electronic Arts has officially responded to
the article, insisting this is fictitious sci-fi entertainment aimed
towards adults, not children.
Tammy Schachter, vice president of public relations for EA, issued the following response to us:
"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.
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."
Despite Bulletstorms bold “M for mature” (17+) rating, FoxNews insists
kids as young nine years old could be exposed to it. One doctor says
that the gore and cussing could “significantly damage” a young mind and
encourage violence during conflict.
Psychologist Carol Lieberman takes it a step further, insisting that
““The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing
out of [sexual] scenes in video games.” No research or statistics are
provided in support of this alleged correlation.
Another accusation tosses Bulletstorm in with other game’s marketing
campaigns which use controversial imagery like sexuality or
hyperviolence to hide the fact that their game really sucks. “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,” says Billy Pidgeon, games
analyst. Generally, it’s poor practice to imply that a game lacks fun
or innovative gameplay without having played it. However, Pidgeon is an
analyst and it’s his job to study trends, even if many gamers who’ve played the demo are very happy with the game.
Melanie Killen, A professor from the University of Maryland, even
insists that Bulletstorm’s marketing campaign is geared toward “children
and young adolescents.” Check out this age-gated, ESRB-stamped promotional video and judge for yourself whether it’s aimed at kids or not.
Finally, Hal Levy of National Youth Rights Association says the game
has been “praised for encouraging innovative thinking. Bulletstorm
involves developing new moves and dispatching of enemies creatively.
Plenty of emotionally unstable adults will play the game and they’ll be
For more on this sensationally violent game, check out Game Informer's Bulletstorm hub, our interview with producer Tanya Jessen, and this new batch of screens.
Email the author Tim Turi, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.