Finding myself in the middle of the Duke Nukem Forever outcry

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If anything has followed the video game industry during it’s 40 year history, it’s been controversy.  There always seems to be someone willing to create it.

Starting with 1977’s Death Race, a game that would supposedly encourage people to run down pedestrians with their cars, up through the 1980s and through Mortal Kombat to the modern day, you can always count on the media to find people to cry out against something in gaming.

Duke Nukem Forever seems to be the hot button issue at the present time, thanks in large part to Fox News.  Following my previous story against their “reporting” on Bulletstorm, many people were encouraging me to poke holes into their latest attack on video gaming early this week.

As I formed plans to do so, I somehow found myself in the middle of it.  In such a case, a person might as well go all the way.

Fox News claims Duke Nukem Forever’s “Capture the Babe Mode” features violence against women.  The reality of the story is that this over-the-top parody of the “Capture the Flag” games featured in titles such as Call of Duty does not feature such material to the extremes that Fox has stirred up.

Yes, a slap on the butt might still be considered controversial and sexist by many, but it’s not described this way by Fox, which would have you believe players are punching women in the face or something.

They also continue on the whole “save the children” routine they like to push.  One part of their original “report” states the following: “The game will be available in stores and online, where customers must click a button stating they are 17 years of age or older — the only barrier to children buying such a game.”

Really?  Where are the parents here, Fox?  Being a father of two myself, I would like to think I would be able to act as a barrier to my children viewing materials that aren’t suited for them.   Seems to be a common theme that Fox News doesn’t feel parents can or should be responsible for knowing what their kids see and do.

Before I could write a full take on how Fox News presented Duke Nukem Forever, I received a telephone call.  It came yesterday afternoon from a reporter from The33 News, the local CW affiliate.  They wanted a “gaming expert” they could talk to about this upcoming game release, and I agreed to the interview.

Please watch the report before reading on by clicking here and then read on.

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The local news story uses the phrase “smacking a woman around for a while” which is clearly only feeding off of Fox’s overblown view of the topic.  They got comments from me in what looks to be an attempt to be a counterpoint from a woman who heads up a Dallas-area rape crisis center.

This was not disclosed to me prior to my interview.  I was under the impression they had spoken to Gearbox Software, the studio producing the game, as well, but the story only featured a shot of the outside of their Plano headquarters and a statement that nobody from the company returned their calls.

I stand by the comments I made that actually made the airwaves.  It is the parent’s responsibility to keep such gaming content out of the hands of their kids, and for those adults who find it offensive, it’s their right to simply avoid playing or purchasing the game.

What bothers me is what they left out.  The story aired the opinions of the Dallas woman calling for a boycott of the game by airing her statement that “behaviors like that are carried out in real life when people become too de-sensitized.”

I made a statement that could have acted as a direct counterpoint to that claim that was not used in the story, as I was asked a question that used that exact wording.

“There are just as many studies that show that people with violent tendencies are drawn to those kinds of games, rather than the games themselves being the cause of violent behavior,” I said to the reporter, “but the media never seems to report on those studies as much as the ones that claim they cause it.”

I suppose my statement proves itself here, as sure enough the story allowed someone to claim the game could/would/can cause a person to act in such a manner while the counterpoint that disagrees with it wasn’t included.

Bottom line, I’ve played video games for 30 years this year.  Not once has any game ever caused me to act out anything within them.  My police record contains nothing more than an unpaid traffic ticket going across my lifetime.  Anyone who would act violently because they played a video game was already the type of person who would act that way regardless, and anyone claiming such a game could trigger such behaviors is misinformed.

My website saw a small bump in traffic since the story aired, mostly locally, and all from search engine searches.  Some have resulted in e-mails from people who take me as “defending the content of the game” or “seeing no problem with violence against women” and other such comments.

Perhaps this is a result of my edited comments, but I assure you that I don’t support nor am defending anything.  I think any man that would strike or abuse a woman is the scum of the earth and something I have zero tolerance to even hear about.  The idea that my statements about a video game could or would possibly mean I have no issue with something like that is insulting.

I simply do not feel that Duke Nukem Forever will or could be the root cause of such behavior.  It’s over-the-top and quite sexist.  I grant that.  I also note that it’s no worse than countless films, television shows and even past video game releases going back to the 1980s.  Search for Leisure Suit Larry or Custer’s Revenge in the same search engines you used to find my website.

The only thing this controversy is sure to do is sell the game, thereby exposing more people to the very content that some are objecting to.  Good job on the boycott, which I’m sure will double the pre-orders of the game.

We live in a world where too many people blame entertainment or other people for the choices that people make.  Duke Nukem Forever is not going to bring out anything in anyone that doesn’t already have it, nor is any other video game.  If the time that’s used coming up with scapegoats was used instead to help stop those people, it would go a lot further.

Anyone wishing to speak with me about the topic can visit my website at www.PatrickScottPatterson.com or e-mail me directly at psp@patrickscottpatterson.com.

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Patrick Scott Patterson

Patrick Scott Patterson (Scott or his gaming handle "OriginalPSP") has been gaming since 1981. A multiple-time video game world record holder as recognized by three organizations, Scott aims to help promote the fun and positive side of both past and present video game culture through this articles here and his official website at PatrickScottPatterson.com.