Jack Thompson's Modest Video Game Proposal

It's all over the intarweb, exactly as he intended, but if you haven't seen US [url="http://www.stopkill.com/"]Anti-Violence-In-Games Lawyer Jack Thompson's[/url] (not to be confused with Aussie actor [url="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0860233/"]Jack Thompson[/url]) [url="http://gc.advancedmn.com/article.php?artid=5883"]"Modest Game Proposal"[/url] you should take a look.

Basically, he promises to donate US$10k if a company makes and sells a videogame based on his intentionally offensive idea. In summary, the game is as follows.

A kid is murdered by an obsessed gamer acting out his favourite game using a baseball bat. After the court case the kid's father swears violent revenge on the video game industry. In his revenge, the father kills:[LIST][LI]in New York - Female CEO of the game company, her husband and kids[/LI][LI]in Philadelphia - The company's lawyers [/LI][LI]on his way west to E3 - people in video arcades, staff in stores that sell games[/LI][LI]in LA - all video game execs at E3[/LI][/LIST]

Is it a bluff? Should it, in fact, be called?

Personally, it sounds to me like it would be fun as an indie mario-esque side-scrolling platformer... :)

MoonUnit's picture

the mans an attention seeking whore, not a game designer ill say that much. To quote Tim Buckley from CAD who basically sums up my thuoghts well: "First of all, is it really "charity" if you're asking something in return? Why not just donate the money for the sake of helping other people, Jack? Why do you have to use it as a publicity stunt to try and keep yourself in the spotlight?" (CAD = http://ctrlaltdel-online.com/ )

LiveWire's picture

if i had the means i wouldnt make it as is. Well, i wouldnt make it at all, but hypothetically speaking - not strictly to the line: "...high school boy beaten to death with a baseball bat by a 14-year-old gamer. The killer obsessively played a violent video game in which one of the favored ways of killing is with a bat."

though it would be good to throw it back at Jack Thompson and have the real cause of the murder be something other than to do with games. you know, like neglect, abuse, drugs, alcohol, etc. etc. and basically turn the whole thing into a comentary on how rediculious simply playing a game alone could turn someone into a vicious killer. call his bluff and throw it back at him!

also, [url="www.penny-arcade.com"]penny arcade[/url] had some interesting posts about this earlier today:

quote:You may have seen Jack?s proposal mentioned on various news sites. He?s offering 10 grand to charity if a game developer makes a game based on his insane proposal.

So I got his email address and I went ahead and sent Jack a note this morning:

10 grand is pretty weak man. Through our charity www.childsplaycharity.org gamers have given over half a million dollars in toys and cash to children?s hospitals all over the country.

I?ll let you know if he responds.

The fact is when we kick off Child?s Play 2005 on November 1st we?ll be going global. We?ll be delivering videogames and toys to children?s hospitals all over the world now. I don?t think there?s any better response to Jack?s insane ramblings than that. Maybe Jack would like to donate his 10 grand to Child?s Play, that could buy a lot of Game Boys.

quote:My email sig had my phone number in it. Jack actually just called and screamed at me for a couple minutes. He said if I email him again I will ?regret it?. What a violent man.
souri's picture

I've just read his game proposal and, goodness me, does he have a huge chip on his shoulder or what?! Who wants to waste development time and money (even for a small charitable cause) just to satisfy his rather disturbing contempt for Take 2, Grand Theft Auto, and the games industry as a whole (which you obviously see from his proposal). No one is going to take this up because doing this proposal is akin to siding with his warped argument.

I think this says a lot more about his psychological state than violence in games, to be honest. Very disturbing.

LiveWire's picture

If you havn't heared of jack Thompson before, here's a good place to start: [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Thompson_%28attorney%29[/url]

I dont know if it it's really worth caring about anything he says, though he might eventually have an impact on american politicians, in which case it his attacks might have roll over effects on the games industry gloably.

But if not, then it's just fun to read his stupid comments, obvious fabrications, and insults to those who point out his errors.

mcdrewski's picture

His somewhat confused point seems to be that the games industry doesn't really believe that their games are blameless for violence. As such he feels that the industry would be 'too scared' to make a game in which they themselves were the targets because it would make them targets.

I know it's not well thought out really, but I just don't understand. His protagonist even if the game were made would be an endorsement of the "guns don't kill people" stance taken by the game industry in the first place. The father is clearly not "trained on murder" by any game - he's just a caricature of vengeance being violent in his own right.

A much better story would be adapting Ben Elton's book "Popcorn" (highly recommended) into a game.

WiffleCube's picture

How about this one, McDrew?

"Topical Issue Lawyer"

The game plays a bit like Sentinel; the object being to remain on the highest moral high-ground (hold down the fire button to charge up your 'spin'). The higher you climb, the more access you gain to large veal dinners, and you gain energy by ambulance-chasing.

Sorceror Bob's picture

Haha when will people learn to stop feeding the trolls.

Jack Thompson is nobody special. People like him have been around for centuries. Seriously. And I'm not referring to dribbling morons.
For every new major medium, there are super conservatives who claim that their introduction will lead to the downfall of society. TV, Radio and Film all had their critics. People saying that they destroy the fabric of society. Hell, you can go back to the printing press - even the invention of writing; these were opposed strongly for the effects they would have on society.

The fact is, these conservatives are under the assumption that people are stupid and will be controlled by these new forms of media. Despite evidence otherwise, people aren't stupid. They accept TV, radio and video games as something seperate from reality. No matter how realistic the graphics get, people will distinguish between a game and reality. (Can argue the whole 'Matrix' dealie, but thats beside the point.) Media can influence people, but it doesn't control them.

You'll find that the nutters that go around killing people don't do so because they did it in Grand Theft Auto. They did it because they are fucking lunatics who have a predisposition to that kind of behaviour. How many millions of gamers are there for every one who has acted in an anti-social manner?

Jack Thompson is merely a bottomfeeder, leeching off a debate that is bigger than his simple intelligence.

/rant

davidcoen's picture

i wonder if you could make a game like that fun, FLCL style?

Caroo's picture

...wheres the love....

that about sums up everything. XD

MoonUnit's picture

Looks like a few more people are getting a little disturbed of the froth coming from Thompsons mouth: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?aid=12259

WiffleCube's picture

LiveWire's picture

Sorceror Bob: your right, and that's why most people dont care. But if organisatons like the ESRB (US ratings board) and other industry related organisation dont continue working thier counter arguments then his, and those of people of simular oppinion, could have serious effects. for instance California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently [url="http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=6777"]signed into law[/url] a bill requiring all games containing violent content to be labled so and be sold only to adults, with heavy fines for both the retailer if they sell them to a minor, and the developer/publisher is they miss-rate their game. the problem is the ratings are not defined by the ESRB (as would make sence), and are based on vauge and obsucre criteria. Further more another company has now poped up saying they want to provide the ratings for the games (for a fee of course). The point being some people are treating games far more serisouly than other forms of media, and are even refusing to co-operate with the self-regulation of the American industry (with some even trying to profit from it). Aparently they see a 3rd party or governmental ratings system better than one run by industry experts. And as you can see - it's having an affect.

The Bill is being challanged, as are simular ones in other US states. There is also a lot of games related legistation in other countires, like leagal limits on how long you can play an MMO for in China, and others cant think of off-hand, but read Gamasutra, most things end up on there.

mcdrewski's picture

If only Gamasutra had an RSS feed... [:(]

Note that Jack's an anti-violence-in-entertainment (ie: Football? Pro Wrestling?) advocate, not just Games.

LiveWire's picture

you can now subscribe to a newsletter that sends out all the news each day, or the best news each week, as well as a bunch of area specific ones aswell. but i check the site everyday anyway.

LiveWire's picture

latst news, a mod team has [url="http://hellfish.gtajunkies.com/Story.html"]made his game[/url], and he has refused to donate the money saying the proposal was [url="http://www.joystiq.com/entry/1234000743063662/"]satire[/url]. So the [url="http://www.penny-arcade.com/"]Peny Arcade[/url] guys have made the donation in his name.

souri's picture

After all the commotion and especially the responses from Jack Thompson recently, there shouldn't be anyone around who hasn't figured out that he's a grade one lunatic. I know a lot of people are saying that the situation is only worsened when the press and media give him more coverage on his antics, but it seems this guy has some form of power (persuasive or otherwise) to make changes in the industry in the US, so perhaps shooting him down and revealing what a crackpot he really is is the only solution. I just pray that we don't have some crazy evangelist like him around here.

mcdrewski's picture

The problem here is that the responsible approach doesn't get the headlines. It's the same strategy as is used by Goverments and big business worldwide - one big announcement that hits the front page, followed some days later by a smaller correction or watering down that hits page 47 of the business section.

It's starting to be the way it works - something attention grabbing even if it's wrong, then later a 'correction'.

ie: "Saddam can launch WMDs within 20min" followed by "Well, he was an evil guy anyway."

There's a reason why large chunks of the general populace still think that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were carried out by Iraq. Unfortunately the most media savvy are often the fruitcakes of society with an axe to grind such as Jack.

It would be really nice if we could play the game too...

Djenx's picture

MoonUnit's picture

thompsons tried to call the cops on some people before, because they made a AIM icon where he gets hit in the head with an XBOX.... His appeals to the police and his interesting factual exclusions are all too obvious in these letters. Good on Penny Arcade for donating the money

Sorceror Bob's picture

Just to blow my own trumpet! :P

From Penny Arcade

quote:Jack is not special. He is not a unique snow flake as they say. He is just the latest vocal opponent of whatever is "corrupting" our youth at the moment. When my dad was growing up it was rock and roll devil music. Then it was comic books then movies and rap music. Today it?s videogames. If we were to succeed in getting Jack blacklisted from the major news outlets someone else would simply take his place. Imagine him as an actor playing a part in a play. The point is that Jack Thompson is not important. If he were to be fired a new actor would simply take up the role. The same lines would still be delivered in the same way and the same audience would pay to see it. We are actually fortunate that the current actor is so impotent in his role. Imagine what might happen if some charming, efficacious attorney took his place. The more I consider it the more I think we may be lucky to have Jack playing the part of the alarmist. The alternative might be someone who is actually capable.

Thats what I said!!

TheBigJ's picture

Sorceror Bob said:

quote:The fact is, these conservatives are under the assumption that people are stupid and will be controlled by these new forms of media. Despite evidence otherwise, people aren't stupid. They accept TV, radio and video games as something seperate from reality. No matter how realistic the graphics get, people will distinguish between a game and reality. (Can argue the whole 'Matrix' dealie, but thats beside the point.) Media can influence people, but it doesn't control them.

I agree with your motivations, however, I offer the following refinements. Any media that takes the form of something clearly fictional or escapist, such as film and video games, will not be taken seriously by virtually anybody, because as stated, people generally aren't that stupid. As a result, Jack Thompson's arguments based on games training and desensitising players to kill are nonsense.

That being said, I believe that in general, people are highly suggestible, and I would claim that this is unrelated to stupidity. The real problem of media "control" exists in media that is falsely presented as objective, for example, the commercial news, which is exactly what Jack Thompson uses to spread his ignorant propaganda. The fact that so many people are willing to believe him despite his almost total lack of coherent arguments leads me to the conclusion that media can indeed "control" people, but, ironically, the only kind of media that is really effective at controlling people is the only kind that Jack Thompson himself uses.

The influence vs. control argument is however, largely debatable. Here's the way I see it: Some people, like myself and the people on this board, are more likely to be merely influenced by the media, that is, to neither believe unconditionally nor reject entirely the arguments that are presented until we have come to our own conclusions. I've met too many people however, who simply believe the commerical news unconditionally - not just adopt new opinions but entirely disregard their existing ones in order to do so. I have absolutely no doubt that [url="http://todaytonight.com.au"]purveyors[/url] of pseudo-objective media commercially exploit this characteristic.

My conclusions here are pretty clear: If there is any such thing as media control, the people behind it are Jack Thompson, not Rockstar.

Sorceror Bob's picture

Good post TheBigJ!

I agree entirely! I find the implied trust given to news media rather amusing. One of the reasons I view it with such scepticism. I believe this is largely because it is passive. It doesn't require any involvement on the part of the viewer. Just a spectatorship.

We internet savvy people are more prone to scepticism, due to the fact that we can actively engage in the media.(like what we're doing now.)

In closing. Jack Thompson fellates goats.

TheBigJ's picture

quote:I believe this is largely because it is passive. It doesn't require any involvement on the part of the viewer. Just a spectatorship.

Or a dictatorship.

quote:We internet savvy people are more prone to scepticism, due to the fact that we can actively engage in the media.(like what we're doing now.)

Yep. The intertron is probably mankind's greatest leap towards achieving freedom of independant thought (although I believe, we have many leaps to go).

quote:In closing. Jack Thompson fellates goats.

Most likely.

palantir's picture

Fortunately the era of mass media is coming to an end, fragmenting and giving way to new active media where morons like Thompson have less impact then ever before.

It?s an interesting topic you guys have raised. I think there?s a very interesting social transformation taking place with modern communications and the outcome of this change is still largely unknown. The effect of advancing communications technology on society has always been badly underestimated, and who can really say what the death of distance and active instead of passive media will have on society? Not only should it lead to the freedom of independent thought and the exchanging of ideas, but also a move towards a new economy, a creative economy.

And in this new economy the simpleton puppets like Thompson will be left out in the cold tormenting their goats.

Sorceror Bob's picture

Well, the printing press saw a similar shift from passive to active communications, and heralded many of the changes you've mentioned Palantir. :)

It's arguably on a different scale, but there is still a huge gap between people who have access to the technology, and those who don't.
That said, the largest contribution of new interactive medias is on a global scale rather than local. I don't actually believe the internet has actually added anything. It's simply made the whole process more efficient and accessible.

We also have to avoid falling into the trap of believing what we read on the internet. No media is ever purely objective! Just because it can be interactive doesn't mean it is a valid source. Media bias is simply a part of news.

People like Jack Thompson never truly dissapear, in 50 years we'll probably have Jack Thompson Jr launching a narrow minded attack on holo-shoot em ups.

TheBigJ's picture

quote:We also have to avoid falling into the trap of believing what we read on the internet. No media is ever purely objective! Just because it can be interactive doesn't mean it is a valid source.

Yes, I absolutely agree. I would say that the arguments for the internet being a step forward in objectivity has nothing to do with the merits, motivations or agendas of those who write its content. Much of the information out on the web deserves little credit in the objectivity stakes. The point is, the alternative view is always a mere three-second google search away. That's it. Incomprehensible volumes of knowledge aquired by humans of all societies from all cultures, all readily available to anybody who knows how to work Google.

Okay, maybe the full effect has not yet been invoked, but in another few generations or so, when governments have given up trying to control and regulate the internet (I'm being optimistic), perhaps people will have, on a mainstream level, abandoned the very idea that any single instance of media can be objective; the idea that it is even possible that the work of one author, regardless of chosen medium, will ever line up with any "absolute" or "objective" truth. If that idea goes out the window, so does Jack Thompson's power (which is [url="http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20051019-5458.html"]waning[/url], anyway).

One extra note:

quote:People like Jack Thompson never truly dissapear, in 50 years we'll probably have Jack Thompson Jr launching a narrow minded attack on holo-shoot em ups.

This will always be the case, however, I think that as time goes forward, society will have increasingly less power to grant these individuals.

Okay, rant officially over.

mcdrewski's picture

quote:Originally posted by mcdrewski

If only Gamasutra had an RSS feed... [:(]

It does now! Woo!

http://www.gamasutra.com/rss/

souri's picture

If anyone's interested, [url="http://www.gameshout.com/news/102005/article1392.htm"]Gameshout has an interview with Jack[/url] on their radio program that you can download. It's interesting, but I wish that the interviewee and other guests had some more challenging questions and counter arguments.

TheBigJ's picture

Yeah, I heard that interview and felt the same way. Counter-arguments were largely speculative and/or anecdotal, and to my frustration, they let him get away with too many wild accusations without requesting supporting arguments.

MoonUnit's picture

penny arcade arent getting arrested: http://www.gamespot.com/news/6136737.html
hands up whose suprised?