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EA defends Bulletstorm from Fox pundit allegations

Publisher "stands by the ESRB" as writer accuses game of encouraging sex crime

EA has responded to accusations levelled at forthcoming shooter Bulletstorm by a Fox newscaster, who alleged that the game could well be linked to increasing levels of violence and sex crime.

In his article "Is Bulletstorm the worst video game in the world?", John Brandon asked a number of talking heads to speculate on the possible impact of Bulletstorm's violent nature and sometimes sexual phraseology, expressing concern that "with kids as young as 9 playing such games", psychological damage could be devastating.

One commentator, author Carol Lieberman, went as far as to assert that "The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games," whilst offering no evidence for her position. Comments from industry analyst M2's Billy Pigeon, meanwhile, were revealed to have been edited extremely selectively.

EA has pointed out that the ESRB ratings system has judged Bulletstorm to be a "M" for mature rated title, suitable for ages 17 upward only - a fact clearly displayed on packaging and advertising. The publisher issued a statement to this effect to Game Informer, making its position clear.

"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," the statement read.

"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.

"Epic, People 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."

However, Lieberman responded by pointing out that, as the system isn't always enforced at retail, it serves little purpose, allowing young children access to inappropriate content. Britain's own set of ratings, the PEGI system, is currently under debate, having undergone several delays.

There has been a long history of demonisation for gaming in the British press and political arena, too. Labour MP Keith Vaz has issued more than one crusade against gaming, although even he has recently moderated his position, and believes that parents should hold the lion's share of responsibility.

More recently, Minister for Culture, Media and Sport Ed Vaizey has said that parliament needs to move on from only discussing games as an issue of violence.

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Dan Pearson