Poorly researched. Biased. Hysterical. Fear-mongering. All of these words and more could be chosen completely at random and for no particular reason to start an article discussing the tabloid media's treatment of pretty much any pastime it does not understand.
But gamers have a special relationship with Fox News. The station has been synonymous with misguided game-bashing for years now, and certainly no stranger to using skewed reinterpretations of the actual facts of in-game content in order to make a flailing pseudo-point.
So I got thinking. Just how far could that kind of crazy tabloid thinking go in order to twist innocent game content into something far darker? So I had a bit more of a think, and I came up with the following Fox News inspired versions of some of gaming's most creative and wholesome luminaries. And then I scared the crap out of myself with how easily all of this could happen.
A gamer would say: Tiny astronauts! Magic plant men! Garden based RTS!
Fox News would say: The player is tasked with rousing a mindless, angry mob (with levels of aggression designated by skin colour) to do its bidding, and then proceeds to lead those followers into violence in order to enforce his or her will upon the surrounding environment. Private property is stolen and destroyed, and animals are tormented and killed. Success depends on the player growing the numbers of his or her gang into a small army, in order to do as much damage as possible within a set time limit before leaving the area in ruins.
Super Mario Galaxy
A gamer would say: Gravity-bending Mario in space! GODDAMN GRAVITY-BENDING MARIO IN SPAAAACE!
Fox News would say: Cast as an obsessed blue-collar worker, the player actively engages in a long and elaborate attempt to sabotage a royal marriage. This campaign of terror by the determined, single-minded loner protagonist results in the deaths of hundreds, and culminates in a horrific catastrophe which is only averted by the self-sacrifice of countless more innocents. Nevertheless, the players character is deemed a hero.
A gamer would say: Dogs playing guitars! Digging for fossils! Sleepy villages! Communicative fun!
Fox News would say: In this supposedly innocent game, said by some of its supporters to even be educational, the player learns nothing more than depravity, degeneracy, and isolationist thinking. The lead character is a human who has decided to turn his or her back on their own humanity, rejecting their own species in order to run away to the feral wilderness and form bestial relationships with wild animals instead. Various touchscreens and motion control devices allow the player to enjoy these crimes against nature with sickening levels of tactile realism. Early stages in the game also require the player to take a job with a local racketeer.
Jet Set Radio
A gamer would say: Blue skies! Cool music! Rollerblades and spray paint!
Fox News would say: Less a game, more an interactive gangland training manual, Jet Set Radio teaches impressionable youngsters everything they need to know to become a real menace to society. Playing as the same sort of impressionable, disaffected loner teen this game hopes to groom* with its sugar-coated message of anarchy, the player is plunged into a bright, colourfully cool cartoon depiction of crime and antisocial behaviour. Jet Set Radio cynically draws in its young audience by way of vibrant Saturday morning presentation, but what is contained with it is certainly no Flintstones. Heck, it makes even those Mighty Morphin Powered Rangers look tame.
Through the violently named Beat character, players will learn the basics of how to start a small street gang, before taking the fight to bigger rival groups in an ever escalating battle for turf. Theyll learn how to dominate through intimidation. Theyll oust rivals from their homes by force, claiming them as their own via defacement, using graffiti tags promoting violence and anarchy.
Also, the soundtrack contains a barrage of aggressive Hip Hop and Rock. And we all know what that means.
*Just like a paedophile!
A gamer would say: Just one more go.
Fox News would say: Literally put into the hands of children since 1989, this might at first seem like an innocent block-based puzzler. An enriching, geometric problem-solving game, maybe. Thats what the cunning minds at Nintendo want you to think. But dont be fooled. This is a game in which the most epic win is achieved by the slipping of a long, straight block into a long straight hole. In reality, Tetris could not be a more aggressive, sexually-charged celebration of misogyny if it tried.
A gamer would say: Tim Schafer! Funniest platformer ever! Why is there no sequel!?
Fox News would say: A wayward teen leaves behind his loving family in order to engage in mind-bending, psychedelic experiments with a group of freaks and misfits along the way to subverting and destroying the healthy American institution of summer camp. The game promotes such dangerous activities as wilful engagement in hallucinatory experiences and anti-authoritarian thinking. The entire work is clearly nothing more than a thinly-disguised advocation for drug use as a means for slackers to escape the responsibilities of a productive life.