Source: Washington Post 
Pubdate: Tue, 23 Jun 1998
Author: Michael Colton, Washington Post Staff Writer


Fox Officials Apologize for N20 Video Game Campaign

Fox Interactive, a division of 20th Century Fox, said yesterday it would
withdraw its current advertising campaign for the Sony PlayStation video
game N2O: Nitrous Oxide after anti-drug officials complained that the ads
glamorize drug use.

"We apologize for any references which evoke drug use that appeared in some
of the ads for N2O," said Peter Chernin, president of News Corp., 20th
Century Fox's parent company. "We pledge to go the extra mile in the future
to make certain our advertising does not have or cannot be interpreted to
have even the hint of glorification or trivialization of illegal drugs."

Yesterday, national drug policy chief Barry R. McCaffrey expressed
gratitude for Fox's action.

At a news conference Thursday, after a Washington Post article described
the ads, McCaffrey said Fox "ought to be ashamed of themselves . . . it
glorifies stoned drug behavior."

At the same news conference, Sen. Joseph Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said, "These
folks are peddlers -- peddlers of destruction, and they should be branded
as such."

In N2O, which the video game industry's rating board says is suitable for
teens, nitrous oxide is used as a fuel enhancer for players' spacecraft.
But advertisements seem to refer to another of nitrous oxide's uses, as an
intoxicating inhalant used at parties, raves and rock concerts by many of
the same people who play video games.

"Never trip alone, always use 2 player mode . . . Breathe in. Breathe out,"
reads an ad, which appeared in Swing, Spin, the Source and other magazines.
A news release on the World Wide Web read: "Get ready to go higher, faster
than you've ever gone before. . . . The ultimate rush. . . . Give speed
freaks the fix they need."

Nitrous oxide is perhaps most commonly known as the "laughing gas" dentists
use for anesthesia, but is also popular among young people as a drug to
make them giddy and lightheaded. It is used as the aerosol propellant in
some brands of whipped cream and also is available in dispensers known in
head-shop parlance as "whippets." By depleting the body's oxygen, it can
result in an immediate anoxia death, and prolonged use can lead to
peripheral nerve damage.

Fox Interactive shipped more than 100,000 copies of the game this month.

In February, Sony Corp. withdrew a multimillion-dollar advertisement
campaign in Britain for the PlayStation snowboarding video game Cool
Boarders 2 following complaints that it extolled drug use. "Powder, my body
yells, aches for powder," read one ad, which Sony said was written in
snowboarder slang. "I need the rush, the buzz. I have to get higher than
the last time."

Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company 
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Checked-by: Richard Lake