In Bulletstorm, gamers have to find creative ways of killing the enemy. It’s not just about shooting the enemy but about using the weapons available to do things such as fling the enemy into the air and dismember them. Creative kills are called 'skillshots'. Many of these skillshots are given sexual names or themes, often graphic.
FOX News got a panel together to discuss the game and here are some of the quotes from that conversation:
“If a younger kid experiences Bulletstorm's explicit language and violence, the damage could be significant,” says Dr. Jerry Weichman, a clinical psychologist at the Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Southern California. “Violent video games like Bulletstorm have the potential to send the message that violence and insults with sexual innuendos are the way to handle disputes and problems.”
But perhaps Carol Lieberman, a psychologist and book author, makes some statements that should be backed up with more solid evidence.
“The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games,” she says.
M2 Research, a market analyst firm, says that the article has been very selective in how it has presented the information. That article was originally sourced by Do Gaming from Gamesindustry.biz. But it’s clear that the writer of that article has their own axe to grind as well.
So, what’s EA’s response been? Well , it’s stuck to its guns and said that the game is rated 17+ by the ESRB so that should be enough.
"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."
Lieberman and Brandon, however, believe that the age restrictions are not forced at retail properly and retailers should be penalised if selling to an under-age buyer. Perhaps they’re not exactly wrong, either. Even here in South Africa it seems a little hard to believe that retailers will refuse to sell an under-age buyer anything unless it’s cigarettes or alcohol, and the former can often be a bit of a stretch. No doubt America and the U.K. have similar issues.
“One thing that tends to be ignored is that if Bulletstorm consisted solely of beating people up, it wouldn't be fun to play. It's 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 fine,” he said.
Does Bulletstorm really encourage innovative thinking? Or is that not taking its creative purpose too far? Isn't it just a game, at the end of the day?