Lesson number one – don’t piss off the gamers

By Mark O’Neill

I have never really got into the whole gaming thing. Despite giving it my best shot more than once, I have often found PC / console games to have a very limited attention span for me. Once I’ve shot one person, the thrill kind of wears off and I suddenly want to surf the internet. I had a Gamecube for 3 weeks and then never used it again.

But I know enough gamers (my girlfriend’s brother for one) to know one sure fact – never seriously criticise the games or the people who play them. The people who love playing these games love them as if they are related to them by blood. Criticise the game and by extension, you’re criticising the gamer. This is not good if your aim in life is to live peacefully and not bring any attention upon yourself. Gamers tend to take criticism of their pastime rather personally.

This is a fact that Cooper Lawrence is learning the hard way. The author of “The Cult of Perfection: Making Peace With Your Inner Overachiever” has seen her Amazon page wrecked by irate gamers. The gamers went on the virtual rampage after Lawrence went on Fox News and criticised a X-Box game called “Mass Effect“. The game is apparently one of the most popular games of 2007 but Lawrence made the rather foolish decision to trash the game on-screen – despite admitting she had never played it or seen anyone play it.

The game apparently has a romantic sub-plot and supporters have asserted that what you see is no more risque than evening television. But that didn’t stop Lawrence who sneered the game and its “full-frontal nudity and explicit sexual activity”. But she didn’t stop there. She decided to dig an even deeper grave for herself by continuing with :

“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.”

This was too much for the dedicated gamers. They decided to get their revenge by going to Lawrence’s Amazon page and giving her a one star rating for her book along with some fake nasty reviews. At one point, there were over 400 one star reviews. Then Amazon wised up to the situation and began removing the fake reviews, leaving about 80 to go. The book was even tagged with keywords such as “hypocrite” and “trash”. Ouch.

One reviewer said :

“I, for one, am appalled that such slanderous filth would end up on bookshelves where any child could walk into the store, drop a couple dollars, and leave this store with this trite, poorly written, racist bible for the Neo-Nazi consortium of modern America.”

Whatever happened to writing a letter of complaint, sticking a stamp on the envelope and mailing it in?

Lawrence has now decided to eat humble pie by declaring she was wrong about the game. She now claims to have seen someone “play it for about two and a half hours”. Her take now on the “full-frontal nudity and explicit sexual activity”? “It’s not like pornography” she now asserts, “I’ve seen episodes of ‘Lost’ that are more sexually explicit.”