Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mass backlash effect

I'm not a big gamer myself. I liked the Myst adventures (which might tell some of you all you need to know), and back in the day I used to like to flip on the "god mode" cheat in Ultimate Doom and see how quickly I could blast my way straight through all the levels to the end of the game, but that's about it. Sad, really, I suppose.

Still, I have to say that Mass Effect--and I can't stress enough the fact that I've never played the game; that's essential here--really is the gift that keeps on giving.

First there's this review, absolutely guaranteed to make you say, "Wait . . . what??" at least once before giving you an overwhelming urge to pee:

Then there's this story, to be filed under MegaHell Hath No Fury:

[T]he game world has been ablaze with indignation since the Fox News program “The Live Desk With Martha MacCallum” said on Monday that Mass Effect, one of the most critically praised games of 2007, contains frontal nudity and explicit depictions of sexual activity. The assertions of virtual lasciviousness first appeared earlier this month among conservative bloggers incensed by brief YouTube clips excerpted from the 30- to 40-hour game.[…]

To exact their revenge, gamers have turned their vitriol on Cooper Lawrence, an author who appeared to mischaracterize the game when she said: “Here’s how they’re seeing women: They’re seeing them as these objects of desire, as these, you know, hot bodies. They don’t show women as being valued for anything other than their sexuality. And it’s a man in this game deciding how many women he wants to be with.”

In fact Mass Effect allows users to play as either a man or a woman, and the few suggestions of intimate contact occur in the context of a detailed interpersonal story line. Asked on the air by Geoff Keighley of Spike TV whether she had ever played the game, Ms. Lawrence laughed and said, “No.”

Irate gamers have flooded the page on selling Ms. Lawrence’s most recent book, “The Cult of Perfection: Making Peace With Your Inner Overachiever,” sending its user-generated rating into oblivion.

By Friday afternoon 412 of the book’s 472 user reviews were the lowest possible rating, one star. Another 48 ratings were for two stars. Only 12 of the ratings were for three stars or higher. In addition, 929 Amazon users had tagged the book with the keyword “ignorant.” Tied for second place with 744 tags were “garbage” and “hypocrisy,” while “hack” and “hypocrite” tied for fourth place with 710 votes. Gamers have also attacked the book on the Barnes & Noble Web site.

Many of the reviewers admit that they have not read Ms. Lawrence’s book.

As one Amazon user put it: “I know all about this book but have never fully read it. Why? Due to the overwhelming backlash, I have no choice but to agree with the 1 star ratings. The rumors are rampant that this book was poorly written and poorly researched. So without verifying the contents myself — I give it a 1 star. Good thing video games aren’t judged in this manner — whew!!!”

A heartfelt apology and expression of remorse from author Lawrence quickly followed. Nothing like having your own ox gored to spark a little contrition and re-establish your priorities, I always say.

Or, to paraphrase an old saying, never pick a fight with someone who has a high-speed line, dual monitors, and a case of Mountain Dew.

No comments: