Thursday, December 30, 2004

GamesGamesGames

Games are one of my major obsessions. I have a few.

I've been a gamer for as long as I can remember. I grew up with board games, card games, dice games, roleplaying games, playground games, puzzles, and eventually electronic and computer games. If I couldn't game I'm not sure what I would do.

So people like Jack Thompson* really get on my nerves.

He's not alone. There are a lot of people out there that dream of being able to place the blame for all of the worlds ills on something – anything – other than the people who are actually responsible for the things they choose to do.

Jack seems to have chosen to make suing the gaming industry his life's work. I'm reading through his website and wondering how such a person managed to get as far as he has. The only answer I can determine must involve ignorance and fear. People who aren't interested in gaming as a pastime for themselves, and don't know much about it except secondhand, hear Jack and others like him spout their fear buzzword filled nonsense and take it as fact.

So I'm going to dissect his site for the remainder of this post.


----- Let the fun begin! -----

"This site's purpose is to give you the means to contact Miami attorney Jack Thompson if you know of someone harmed as a result of violent entertainment, including violent video games."

--- How about darts? Billiards? Dwarf tossing? A vicious stripper? Pokemon? I would love to sue someone for the first Pokemon movie.

"One current horrific example is a video game made available by Sony and Take-Two Interactive called Manhunt. This game allows you to train yourself to kill people by placing plastic bags over their heads while you watch them struggle while suffocating."

--- Yeah, because putting a bag over someone's head and suffocating them takes training and finesse. I've played 'Manhunt' and I must say that I wasn't impressed overall. The controls and camera weren't that good. Yes, the killing animations were gruesome, but the gameplay got old long before the end. It was mainly a gimmick game. Oh yeah, and long before I played Manhunt I saw someone killed in the movie 'Snatch' by having a plastic bag taped around his head.

"You may be a parent whose child is addicted to video games."

--- Actually, I'm a parent of two of them. And the brother of one. And myself, natch.

"You may know someone harmed by someone addicted to violent entertainment who copycatted that violence."

--- Okay. Chicken and egg. Who can really say the violent act was learned originally from a video game? If someone causes a victim to burst into flames with their mind and then later claims to have learned it from 'Psi-Ops', then I might buy it. But humans have been killing one another for as long as recorded history and before I'm sure. I doubt there has been a way of killing someone that hadn't been thought of long before the advent of video games, Jack. I even think there may have been some mention of killing in the bible. If my son decides to slay someone by nailing them in the head with a rock, and then claims he got the idea from 'David & Goliath' would you be willing to sue the writers for me? That would certainly be spiffy.

"The victim, whoever it is, needs help."

--- ie: money.

"Jack Thompson will assist in getting that person help."

--- ie: money.

"Please fee free to use the below contact information."

--- That's right. "fee free". Good proofing there, buddy. Inspires shitloads of confidence in your abilities. Oh yeah, can I use your contact info to get you on some mailing lists Jack? You didn't actually say I could only use it to contact you.

"Miami attorney Jack Thompson has appeared on more than 50 national television programs and 170 college campuses over the past twelve years in a national effort to hold accountable the entertainment industry for the harm it does to our children."

--- Twelve years and he still hasn't been able to figure out that some people are just insane and/or violent. Yes, I agree that some people can be sent into violent rages by some form of external stimulus, HOWEVER I don't agree that only one form of stimulus is the cause of the violence, NOR that if the stimulus is eradicated that the person in question would go through the remainder of his/her life without snapping at some other point. I prefer to think that the type of person that loses their shit over a game is the exception and I don't think everyone should be punished by removing something they can peacefully enjoy to keep a few psychos calm for a bit longer. Work toward identifying the loons before they pop. That would be useful.

"Recent medical brain scan studies at Harvard, Indiana University, and elsewhere prove that adolescents' brain functions are damaged by a steady diet of violent images. The heads of six major health care organizations, including the American Medical, Pediatric, and Psychiatric Associations have all testified before Congress in June 2000 that violent entertainment contributes to teen violence."

--- 'Contributes', not 'causes'. Key difference. ANYTHING can contribute to violence. Someone acting rude can contribute to a person snapping, so do we outlaw rudeness?

"Video games are literally "murder simulators" teaching our kids how to kill."

--- Literally? Only if a person can go up to someone and push triangle-square-triangle and rip their head off. Otherwise there is a bit more effort involved.

"The incredibly violent Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,"

--- GTA-San Andreas is much better. I guess the site hasn't been updated recently.

"made by Take-Two Interactive of New York City,"

--- NEW YORK CITY!? (outrage noises)

"has caused multiple copycat killings across the country."

--- This is actually true. Until GTA:VC was released nobody in this country had been killed by being shot, stabbed, hit by a car, set on fire, beaten with a bat, etc. It was a utopia until that serpent GTA took a slither through our garden of bliss and shit.

"A recent Gallup Poll found that any American teen who has played this one game is twice as likely to be engaged in an act of violence than those who have not played this one game."

--- Oh my god! A poll! I'm beat. Wait, define "act of violence."

"In this game you have sex with a prostitute and then kill her grotesquely to get your money back and win the game faster."

--- No, see, you can CHOOSE to have sex with a prostitute. Only you don't see any of it. She gets in the car, you drive to a quiet spot. and the car starts rocking while your health goes up and money level goes down. Unless a kid KNOWS what the rocking car is about, they won't be able to tell it's "sex". How grotesquely you kill someone in the game is a matter of choice. I personally let them live. They work hard for the money. So hard for it, honey. Oh yeah, and bangin' hos isn't the point of the game and doesn't help you win it any faster than not bangin' hos.

"Police officers are set on fire, shotgunned in the face, and innocent pedestrians are run over with cars."

--- GTA is an open game. If you want to set people on fire or run them over you can. If you don't, you don't have to. There is a set goal you are working toward, but how you get there is your choice. Choices. That's the key.

"The Federal Trade Commission in September 2000 found that big entertainment companies aggressively market adult-rated violent movies, music and video games to American children. Presently, Disney-owned ESPN is running ads for the Grand Theft Auto games on programs watched by huge numbers of teens, all in violation of video game industry regulations passed by the industry after the Columbine massacre."

--- Okay, in all seriousness I do agree with this. I've seen some nasty ads for rated "M" games that shouldn't be where they are. But I find a LOT of advertising offensive, not just game advertising. What do I do about it? I don't buy the goods or services of those that offend me. Yeah, I'm looking at you Carl's Junior.

"In April 1999, eight days before Columbine, Jack Thompson appeared on national television to identify the role that shooter video games, specifically Doom, would play in future school shootings. A week later in Littleton, Colorado, Klebold and Harris, who obsessively trained on Doom, killed thirteen."

--- I doubt they "trained" on Doom. More likely they played Doom while all the other shit that was raining down on them built up to the breaking point. You can "train" just as well by playing 'Cowboys & Indians'.

ANOTHER THOMPSON PREDICTION CAME TRUE: Dateline NBC reported Friday, December 13, 2002, that the Beltway Sniper, John Lee Malvo, was compelled by John Muhammad to train on the sniper video game, Halo, switched to sniper-mode or God-mode, to suppress his inhibition to kill." Jack Thompson predicted, in an interview by Matt Lauer on NBC's Today show three weeks before the Beltway Snipers were apprehended, that one of the snipers "might very well be a video gamer as young as 15 trained on a game switched to sniper-mode or God-mode."

--- Halo? A sniper-mode? A God-mode? Halo? Uh. No.

"In 1992, the American Civil Liberties Union named Jack Thompson one of its ten "Censors of the Year" for daring to suggest that Time Warner rapper Ice-T's "Cop Killer" should be pulled from store shelves worldwide. That award is a badge of honor Thompson wears proudly, not only because Time Warner did what he requested but because Thompson was ten years ahead of the national curve in predicting the entertainment-inspired copycat violence we are seeing from a generation raised on violence that Hollywood says is "cool.""

--- Or you could possibly argue that he has been feeding the flames of fear and ignorance for the past ten years, thus helping to fulfill his own prediction. Just a thought.

"I am trying to protect our freedoms. How so? When the next Columbine happens and the perpetrators are proven to be copycatters of adult-rated violent entertainment, then the government, driven by parental concern, really will contract freedom for all Americans. Safety will trump freedom."

--- First, he switches from the third person he has been using so far to first person. Idiot. Second, "Safety will trump freedom." Did you catch that? Fuck FREEDOM, as long as we're SAFE! "Driven by parental concern" implies, to me at least, manipulation through fear and ignorance. "Contract freedom"... you can be free as long as you do this, this, this, and don't do this or this. Welcome to the new freedom!

"When that happens, the entertainment industry will be to blame for our loss of freedom because of its failure now to accept even reasonable marketing standards."

--- Yeah, again, DON'T BLAME THE PEOPLE COMMITTING THE CRIMES. If we lose freedom it'll be due to fucking lawyers and politicians like you and the ignorant sheep you herd along at your sides.

"Jack Thompson has appeared recently on a number of national television program with victims of two teenage Tennessee snipers whom police concluded trained obsessively on Grand Theft Auto to prepare for their sniping spree. Numerous others have been murdered by teens trained on this one game."

--- More TV shows, ambulance chaser? Shooting with a real rifle is nothing like shooting in GTA. And if someone has the inclination to take up a rifle and go out to shoot other human beings, it's not a game that gave them the idea. But it's a lawyer like you that gave them their excuse.

And the rest is his contact information. It amuses me that he links to Rockstar Games though. And what is up with his choice of the red, white and blue checkerboard pattern? Ugly as sin.

--
* Jack's website at StopKill.com appears to have fallen out of registration over the last two years. Luckily, thanks to the Wayback Machine, I'm still able to link to a cached version of the site. Unfortunately, it seems to have lost the horrible checkerboard background that I remember, so it doesn't look so bad now. Apart from still being chock full of stupid.

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