Rants and raves about all the latest in video games and other forms of mindless entertainment.

August 07, 2005

Jack Thompson: The boy, the legend

Dear Jack,

You're a man of few words, and what few words you speak make the teeniest tiniest baby seem like a genius. Heck, you even make this guy look intelligent: Poopty Peupty Pants-ss!

Sincerely, Your maker

It's increasingly more difficult for us gamers to garner serious attention in the industry we support. People like Jack Thompson, a lawyer with some personal vendettea against us as gamers, is continuing that trend. We've always been criticised as people playing with toys, and the jobs game developers and journalists have have been mocked day to day, and very few people realize just how big the world of gaming is. You tell them, "The gaming industry makes more money, and pulls in more fans per year than the movie industry". If you're conversing with intellectual individuals, you'll promptly be refuted with "But games cost upwards of 60 dollars, where as movie tickets cost 10 bucks and DVDs about 20". What I'd like to see is movie studios increase the price of movie tickets to 30 bucks a pop. Over the years, gamers have seen price inflation from generation to generation. As a generation starts up, peak prices of games might be 40 bucks, but in the next wave of gaming, peak prices increase to 60 bucks. Year after year, price increase after price increase, gamers still come back and will pay that price differential, regardless.

If movie studios and cinema corporations increases ticket prices to 30 bucks, you can guarantee most people would forego movie watching indefinitely, and stick to renting a DVD. Even then, increase a DVD's price to 40 bucks, and you'll see a significant drop in sales and annual revenue. Justifying 20 bucks for a DVD these days is still difficult for some, and if a price increase would decrease sales, it can't just mean we make more money because of higher prices. Our prices are constantly on the rise, yet we still maintain solid sell through rates. Thats not something the movie industry can boast. The gaming industry as a whole has surpassed the movie industry, and to every dismerit of the movie industry, they simply can't keep up.

Jack Thompson is the kind of man who would ignore this logic. I recently read an email from a fellow message board user with a reply from Mr. Jack Thompson:

From: "Name Censored"
To: jackpeace@comcast.net
Subject: My concerns as a Gamer
Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2005 14:22:45

[Dear Jack Thompson],

I want to equally praise you and offer you some sound advice on your campaign to get violent games off of retailers shelves. Let me first off say that I want to personally thank you for trying to get the ESRB to further enforce stricter ratings on games across the board. Not only will that help parents out but it will also allow people to take the ESRB more seriously. I'm sure that every serious gamer and parents who are gamers are giving you the All-American Salute.

However, despite my comments above, I do have some concerns in how you attack people who work in this industry in general. These people do work hard to ensure that all the consumers that they do appeal to are catered to properly. If that means that Joe "21-Year Old" Gamer wants to play Killer 7 he can do so without any worry that his game that he purchased and whatever culture that he is from is not belittled. The same applies to Mary Jane Gamer if all she wants is the next Rugrats game. The gaming industry, in general, has done a fair job in catering to every single consumer out there.

The people who do work in this industry work very hard to make sure that the products they make are products that are worth selling to every individual out there. So where am I getting at exactly? I disagree with the way on how you belittle the ESRB's importance to the industry and the people who do work for the ESRB. I also highly disagree that your common stereotype towards gaming journalists, gamers in general, and developers are nothing more them people that are highly biased towards the industry they work in. Not to mention that they have no intelligence whatsoever and the jobs they are currently employed in are noting more then sheer gimmicks. This is very disrespectful to the people who do work in the industry and all I'm going to ask is to please stop.

People don't tell you how to be a lawyer and what to do as a lawyer, you really have no right in telling anybody who works in that industry what to do to become whatever standard you have previously purposed. Offering advice is one thing, demanding is another.

Thank you for your time and good luck,

(My name here!)

From: Jack Thompson
Subject: My concerns as a Gamer
Date: Sun, 7 Aug 2005 16:08:22

Let me first off say that anyone assossicated with the gaming industry, in general, are much like twelve year olds. They are careless in what they create and sell. I could care less about Joe "21-Year Old" Gamer and his culture. It does not stop the fact that twelve year olds who run the industry are selling these kind of products to younger individuals. Don't try to defend your industry, everyone assossicated with it is to blame including people like you.

According to this intelligent (and clearly not insane) lawyer, we're all twelve year olds, even developers, making and selling games to 6 year olds. The letter speaks for itself, so I won't dwell on it much longer; but I should say I'm insulted that a man like this is being supported, while those who have genuine concerns for the ESRB are being swept under the rug faster than you can say "Adults Only".

As I mentioned a while ago, I support the ESRB for slapping "AO" on GTA for Hot Coffee, because the material is there and it's rather explicit, clothed or not. Explicit visualizations of oral sex, anal sex and many other sexual positions makes GTA:SA a prime candidate for the AO rating, and I say good on the ESRB for doing this. It's going to set a precedent. Jack Thompson wants to go after Killer 7 for having "t3h s3X" as well. The restriction on ratings are almost identical to movie ratings; an AO rating is the exact equivalent of NC-17 in the US, and the R rating here in Canada. There are no grey lines: the difference between these extreme ratings and anything lower is the explicitness of the sex. In GTA, the sexual acts are clearly explicit, much like the movie Showgirls. In Killer 7, the single piece of sexual content is off-screen, and all you hear is moaning, and a close up of Samantha's face as she rides Harman. Both people are fully clothed to boot. I think now is a good time to point out that much worse happens in PG movies like Titanic and The Notebook.

While he's at it, why not go after God of War? The exact same content is in God of War, as Kratos pleasures two women, completely off-screen. There's no question that if Killer 7 and Capcom are litigated for "t3h s3x", it will be thrown out. David Jaffe (creator and director of God of War) commented on Jack Thompson as barely a footnote in the campaign for a standardized and legalized ratings system. He's entirely right. After enough of these unsubstantianted claims and cases (remember this is the same man who said the Sims have "penises, vaginas, pubic hair and labia", despite the character models having no genetalia underneath the strategically placed blur), they'll be thrown out of court, and Thompson can go back to his desk job of helping parents whose children were murdered by other children who play Grand Theft Auto, whose ignorant parents purchased the game for them.

I wouldn't count on Thompson's rhetoric to leave us anytime soon; give it time. One day some court justice will wise up to Jack's ignorant and immature vendetta against videogames. I will go on record and agree that the ESRB needs fixing, but it shouldn't be dismantled. It's doing a hell of a job considering the onslaught of questionable content in today's games. Sure there are some inconsistencies, but there are also the same inconsistencies in the movie industry. We can't catch them all, as the people rating these things are only human; on both sides of the fence. If you have something to say to this uneducated man looking to make a fast buck on virtual controversy, then do so at HIS SITE. Keep in mind, it's easy to email him and insult his intelligence and flame him like it's your last day on earth: but exercise restraint (leave that for editorials like this or message boards).

You can and probably will be more intelligent than him if you just give him your side of the story, and correct him in his mistakes and use examples like the one I just gave you. I'm assuming the man isn't entirely unreasonable, but if he is, he'll learn his lesson one day when hundreds of websites archive the thousands of emails and jack ass responses to and from him. We can and will win this, but only if you do your part and prove to this man we aren't 12 year olds, and that he is entirely in the wrong here.


Anonymous Brent McBrenterson said...

From what he says, Video Games > Movies in terms of how much they affect you.

I'm 14, I've been playing "bad" games since before I can remember(there's some great parenting right there =P) and I've never gone ape-shit with a gun on anyone... at least not yet.

Anyway, this guy's main arguement is that games effect you more because they're innteractive... but everytime there's a really violent part in Killer 7 it's just a movie clip, NOT actual gameplay.

The sex, people getting blown up ect. is ALL done without any interaction from the player. Thus, has no worse effect than a movie.

In conclusion, suck it Jack.

(Heh, that turned out pretty good. I think I might Email it to him xD)

August 07, 2005 10:01 PM

Blogger Adam said...

You could email it, but try sending it sans "suck it". You present good points. Most offensive material is often shown in FMVs or non-interactive cut-scenes. It's not the rule, but it's fairly common. A game like Manhunt does make you interact with the brutalist and most offensive of materials, but I suppose that game is an exception.

August 08, 2005 4:29 AM

Blogger Erik said...

Greetings, Adam.

I know I said that I was leaving for good, but I was bored and decided to take a look at what you were up to, and lo and behold and article on Jack Thompson.

Now if I read the article right, you think he is a moron. And anyone who thinks that is a friend in my book.

That being said, I will say that I do not think that the ESRB needs changing. It is not the ESRB's fault that Rockstar lied to them, and it is not the ESRB's fault that stores sell M rated games to minors. I would rather have a strict law against the sale of M rated material to minors than a revamp of the ESRB.

But of course, this is just my opinion.

August 11, 2005 7:19 PM

Blogger Adam said...

It's not that ESRB is wrong, just too contradictory. I thinkt he ESRB needs to go beyond vague descriptions of letters, and give a point per point checklist of what qualifies as "explicit" and what qualifies as just being there, hidden, or even insinuated. The MPAA has these guidelines, and the ESRB needs them too. I understand that M means non-explicit sex, and AO means explicit, something Thompson hasn't realized yet, but we need definitions of what classifies "explicit" and "non-explicit" (and since this is a run on sentence I'll keep going), and not just the definition but in the context of videogames.

August 11, 2005 10:27 PM

Blogger Erik said...

Yeah, that makes sense. They probably could make the descriptor a bit more precise.

August 12, 2005 8:52 AM


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