So game company EA won/lost Consumerist's 2012 Golden Poo for "Worst Company in America" last week, beating out the sweeties at Bank of America and many other, seemingly more nefarious corps. EA has many, many faults—they nickel and dime their customers to death with premium downloadable content, they ban players for forum infractions and are helping to kill off the used-game market. Contrast that with foreclosures, hidden bank fees, and the global economic catastrophe, and you'd think there'd be no contest, even given the preponderance of opinionated gamers on the internet.

Is this evidence of the increasing importance of the game industry in American culture? Not so much. Like all internet balloting (except legally binding Slog polls, obviously), sampling bias drops a heavy thumb on the scales, and recent events have made EA an inviting target. Mass Effect 3 came out recently, and as the latest EA-related title to feature hot all-dude action (between space marines, no less), it's attracted a shitstorm of homophobia, though a much milder shitstorm than the one that ME and ME2's all-girl action prompted. EA is trying to pin all their woes on this one point, but while they should get an A+ for their efforts to expand access to all gamers, the homophobes aren't driving this on their own.

Space marine foreplay.
  • Bioware
  • Spoiler alert: This is not the space marine you are looking for.

Gamers have been pissed at EA for years—all the while buying their games, their DLC, and their merch—and the Consumerist released its poll at the worst possible time for the company. Hundreds of thousands of gamers had just reached the end of Mass Effect 3, which offers what is widely seen as an extremely disappointing ending to a much beloved series. Add those white-hot points of frustrated rage to wild homophobia and mounting nausea over terrible customer relations, and you've got a recipe for a Golden Poo.

The Stranger Testing Department is Rob Lightner and Paul Hughes.