If you don’t know what you’re talking about

Maybe you shouldn’t be writing columns about it.  I’ve mentioned in the past that I very much dislike it when members of the media lie, or misrepresent the actual facts of a situation to people.  I’ve also mentioned before that I don’t like it when pro-gun people, or fellow conservatives in general; try to blame crime, violence, and the general fall of the Empire on “violent video games”.  If you combine those two factors, you’ll probably figure out why I was so irritated yesterday by Kevin McCullough’s column on Townhall.com.

Now, I often try to avoid picking squares with people who are ostensibly on the same side as I am; however this time I’m afraid I can’t let this slide.  See, the problem is that either Kevin McCullough has played Mass Effect (the game that’s he referencing) and is just flat lying to his readers, or he hasn’t played Mass Effect and is still lying but out of ignorance instead of maliciousness.

Now, I haven’t played the game myself, I don’t have an XBox 360, and don’t feel like dropping the money to buy one.  So, unlike Kevin, instead of just making stuff up and writing it down, I actually talked to an industry insider, who was quite helpful in pointing out the inaccuracies in McCullough’s post, as well as directing me to publicly available sources that we could use to refute them.

but I sure would like to get their individual takes on the new video game that one company is marketing to fifteen year old boys.

It’s called “Mass Effect” and it allows its players – universally male no doubt – to engage in the most realistic sex acts ever conceived.

Well, no it doesn’t, but we’ll address that in a minute.  The first thing he says is that it’s “marketing to 15 year old boys”.  That’s plain not true – the game was given a rating of M by the ESRB, which means it’s can’t be sold to anyone under the age of 17 without parental consent.  Now, if a parent buys this for their 15 year old without first researching the game an its content, then they’re a bad parent.  But right there, in his second sentence, McCullough is wrong.

One can custom design the shape, form, bodies, race, hair style, breast size of the images they wish to “engage” and then watch in crystal clear, LCD, 54 inch screen, HD clarity as the video game “persons” hump in every form, format, multiple, gender-oriented possibility they can think of.

Except for the fact that they can’t actually do that.  From my anonymous source:

“As you can see, the only customizable features are facial.  So you can completely change what your face looks like, but you certainly cannot “custom design the shape, form, bodies, race, hair style, breast size”. 

Don’t believe me?  Here’s a link to a video which shows in detail the customization options available for the player.  Like my insider said, the only thing you can truly customize are the facial features.  I guess if you want to be outraged about people creating idealized digital dopplegangers, than you should probably be outraged at Tiger Woods 2008, because you can do that in that game as well.

Now, the second half of McCullough’s ludicrous argument is essentially that in Mass Effect, you can hump your way through space, fornicating wildly with aliens and humans and all sorts of beings.

imagine the powerful effect that hormones add to the mix when the player’s own character is copulating like jack rabbits with super-models, actresses, and anyone else they can spend the patience to create, name, and “put into play.”

Once again, you run into the problem – that’s just not true.  Back to my source:

Now, onto the actual game content.  There are two distinct options for “sex scenes” in Mass Effect.  The first is the Consort, and the second is the party romance.  I’ll start by discussing the Consort.

The Consort is a vaguely mystical figure who gives you a quest.  After finishing the quest, you’ll have the option of making out with her.  It’s an implied sex scene, because you actually don’t see anything except the characters heads, and Consort’s arm at the end of the scene.  Here’s a video of the sceneThis can be done as either a male or a female player.

The Party Romance consists of 3 romance interests, who are party members.  A female Human, a male human, and a Female-like mono-gendered alien.  If you play as a male, you can bed either the Female human, or the alien.  If you play as a women, you can woo either the Male human or the alien.  You cannot get both characters at once, FYI.

Not that it really matters, but the process by which you do this is somewhat complicated.  Over the course of several hours of gameplay, you have to repeatedly engage your chosen love interest in conversation, learning about their personal history, family, and in one case, having them quote poetry to you.  Depending on how one plays the game, it’s possible to get to the romance within 3-4 hours of starting, but most players probably won’t see a romance scene until 6-8 hours in, if that.

Links to examples of the party romance scenes:

Link 1

Link 2 

I couldn’t find any good videos for the other two options, but the Liara / male Shepard romance scene is identical to the female version [that would be link 1 -ed] (only with a male player character).  The Kaidan / female Shepard romance is identical to the Ashley / Male Shepard scene only with the female player character in place of Ashley [that would be link 2 – ed].

I know that’s a lot of text, but it’s worth reading.  The thing is, my industry guy didn’t give me any information that wasn’t out there, publicly available to anyone.  All Kevin McCullough had to do was do even 10 seconds of actual research and he would have realized that every single one of his assertions about Mass Effect was wrong.  Instead of being some “Space Alien Fornication Fest” like he makes it out to be, it contains one scene of making out, and a sex scene which would draw a PG-13 at best in a movie.  Hell, the sex scene in Top Gun is steamier than that, and you don’t hear people complaining.

Now, you guys are probably wondering why I’m spending so much time arguing this point, when I don’t normally talk (too much) about video games and entertainment.  The reason is because McCullough then makes the following statement:

We now know because of the lengthy track record of serial killer after another that addictive use of pornography was prevalent in case after case – long before the switch got flipped and what their masturbatory imaginations have given into became what they were forcing real live human beings to do.

And because of the digital chip age in which we live – “Mass Effect” can be customized to sodomize whatever, whoever, however, the game player wishes.

He’s connecting serial killers to people who play video games.  Now, where have you heard arguments like that before?  Maybe from people like Paul Helmke, who connect mass murderers to honest citizens who own semi-automatic rifles.  It’s the language of control; the mindset of “I don’t like something so I must make others believe it is bad.”  And in true Paul Helmke/Sarah Brady fashion, Kevin McCullough wants legislation.

Yes there will be many snickers that I decided to bring this issue up in the Presidential cycle of 2008 but how refreshing would it be for a President to prove to the nation that his own manhood was not in question and put his pen and signature to a bill that dealt with such simulated sex excess in a way that was punitive to its creators to such a degree that they would never recover from it?

Like I said, it’s the EXACT SAME line of reasoning.  “If I don’t like it, it should be illegal”.  Honestly, if you take a critical look at McCullough’s post, it reads pretty much the same as one of Helmke’s posts on Huffington Post.

I’m not defending Mass Effect specifically; I’m pointing out the places where McCullough was just plain wrong because his entire argument is based on Mass Effect being some kind of Space Rape Simulator; which it isn’t.  I’m also not saying that violent video games should be played by everyone of all ages, just like I’ve never said that children should run around with automatic weapons.

What I am saying is that calling for legislation to ban something just because you don’t like it is wrong; it puts you in the same camp as Hillary Clinton and anyone else who would seek to control Americans through governmental authority.  Just like parents should education their children about the realities of firearms, they should educate their children about violence in the media.

It’s not up to the government to ban things that you don’t like, Kevin.  If you’re that concerned about Mass Effect, maybe you should sit down with people and talk about the pervasive nature of violent entertainment, instead of just building straw men for the government to ban.

7 thoughts on “If you don’t know what you’re talking about”

  1. Ahab, you’re right on.

    I’ve played the game through from start to finish twice now (yeah, I’m a gamer geek, sue me).

    The sex scene is hardly porn. And it’s in an excellent game with an excellent story. The scene in question lasts … I don’t know … not even a minute? There’s some additional innuendo around it, but still, compared to the 20+ hours you can play the game for, well … why does this point of view not really surprise me.

    You can more easily find something considerably more raunchy and nasty on your average myspace site. What a heap of PSH.

  2. You know, this is a good time to highlight the inconsistencies in the beliefs of mainstream groups on the right and on the left.
    On the left, we have the ACLU, which refuses to admit that the 2nd Amendment safeguards the rights of individuals (absolutely ridiculous, as any 4th grader could tell you).
    On the right, there are the Christian extremists who don’t want the government meddling with their finances but reveal their totalitarian tendencies when they keep their kids from learning important facts about life (you can raise your kids however you want, but it’s unfair to them to imprison them in a debilitating state of ignorance), or when they want to outlaw anything they consider “icky” or “sinful,” regardless of the Constitution or the principles upon which this nation was founded.

    Anyways, props for calling him out on this BS. The pro-RKBA community seriously needs to unite behind a consistent, pro individual liberty agenda, if we plan on securing the right to keep and bear arms without sacrificing all our other rights…or rather, the rights of our fellow citizens.

  3. Oh my god, that’s fantastic. He’s seriously just like the anti-gun crowd, complete with coming up with cute, insulting nicknames for the objects of his derision. They call us “gun whackos” and “gamer nerds”.

    Fantastic, I’m totally blogging that.

  4. A lot of Democrats also complain about video games. I think it’s just something the pols do to score cheap political points. (Remember the Comic Code or the music censorship fiasco?)

    There actually are some Japanese games with the content he describes, but those rarely show up in the U.S. and have little market share.

  5. It’s prudes like this tool that have destroyed the party of Coolidge and Goldwater.

    The GOP will live to rue the day that it wooed the JeezoNazis away from the Carter camp to get Reagan elected.

  6. Being a hack journalist on the Internet really pays off. Just put up something completely stupid and controverisal and you’ll get enough hits to pretend you’re a somebody.

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