‘Mass Effect’ ‘Sexbox’ Controversy — EA, Fox News Both Say Ball Is In The Other’s Court

Throughout the week the team at Kotaku and just about everywhere else that writes about games on the Internet have been covering the report on Fox News’ “Live Desk With Martha MacCallum” about the sexual content in “Mass Effect.”

I know that sex scene — at least a version of it. A few weekends ago, under my Xbox 360 control, one Samus Shepard had sex with a bisexual alien woman near the end of my 29 hours and 24 minutes with the game.

Fox News reported that “Mass Effect” shows “full digital nudity and sex.” And to any Fox News viewer who hasn’t played the game, it may well have seemed like it has quite a lot of it. A panelist who participated in a round-table discussion following Fox News’ report described the game as “Luke Skywalker meets ’Debbie Does Dallas.'” That didn’t quite square with how I remembered the game, nor with Spike TV gaming reporter Geoff Keighley who said, in the segment, that it was wrong. Fox’s MacCallum even read a statement from Microsoft saying that the description of the content was “inaccurate.”

Still, the report was headlined “’SE’XBOX” and focused on why allegedly inappropriate sexual content was being marketed to kids.

Gamers got angry about this. So did Electronic Arts, new-found owners of “Mass Effect” developer BioWare.

(Note: Responses from both Fox News and EA follow below)

Yesterday, EA vice president of corporate communications Jeff Brown sent a letter to Fox News. The letter, first publicized via Kotaku, calls elements of the Fox News report “flat-out false” and likens the sexual content to the kind of fare that appears on network television. It concludes: “This isn’t a legal threat; it’s an appeal to your sense of fairness. We’re asking FNC to correct the record on Mass Effect.”

I reached out to Brown today to ask what EA’s next step is and he reiterated the sentiment that concluded his letter, adding that the intense Internet response to his later “has been a surprise and a little overwhelming.”

And what does Fox News have to say about this? I contacted their public relations department today to find out if they’d seen the letter and if they had any plans to issue a correction.

In response to my questions, a Fox News spokesperson, who declined to be named, stated, in full: “Fox News Channel has extended several invitations to EA through a company representative to appear on ’Live Desk With Martha MacCallum’ to discuss ’Mass Effect’ and the segment which aired on Monday. We have received no response.”

EA says it’s Fox’s turn. Fox says it’s EA’s turn. Who’s going next?