Twoplayer Comic: Ninten... what?
Click here to read this week's twoplayer game comic.
If you're particularly up-to-date on current video game news, you'll be aware of Jack Thompson's recent "satirical" offer to donate $10,000 to a charity if someone agreed to make his violent video game. The game, several iterations of which have now been made
, had to star a vengeful parent killing members of the game industry, ending with a massacre at E3. Because I happen to be very comic-aware in this particular column, the element I've most enjoyed was Penny-Arcade's ever pacifying take on the matter
, which culminated in them donating $10,000 to a charity in Thompson's name.
Actually, my favorite part was the letter from America's National Institute on Media and the Family
, a long-term ally of Thompson's, requesting that he stop using the organization's name during his crusade. The blow was well laid, and it's about time that some sanity return to the argument.
My third favorite part, though, was when Jack Thompson demanded the Penny-Arcade guys be arrested in a letter to the Seattle Police. Will the wonders never cease?
Writing news on a video game site becomes particularly overwhelming whenever Jack Thompson enters the discussion. The highly visible lawyer has made a name for himself as a "anti-game" lawyer, which is a catch-phrase often used to describe anyone that supports government regulation of the game industry.
I'm personally tired of providing press coverage to Jack Thompson, because he says very little, even though he never really stops talking; I also happen to believe that he's fulling willing to mislead people in order to convey his point, a tactic that normally involves stating as fact things that are not fact at all.
Some people would call that lying. I personally call it... well... lying.
You can't be upset at someone for their personal beliefs, though. You can be upset at the mainstream press for not checking their facts, which is who the lying tends to take place to the most often. Mainstream press tend to accept the easy talking points without critically analysing them.
Video games are not the only area where general fact checking could be improved in the mass media; concepts behind Intelligent Design are another. I recently heard a well established media personality say that, "Intelligent Design has been gaining growing support among the scientific community." Considering that "scientific support" is tied directly to the number of scientifically reviewed papers that have been published on the subject, it's interesting to note that Google Scholar only contains 153 peer-reviewed articles on Intelligent Design, compared to 698,000 on Evolution. In fact, if you were to give Intelligent Design equal representation in a textbook, based on the number of research articles on the subject, you would dedicate 44 words to the subject in the average 500 page textbook.
No matter what your perspective on the subject, Intelligent Design is not gaining popularity in the scientific community; that's a talking point.
Similar misstatements take place about video games all the time. To tie this back to Jack Thompson, making claims about the "proof" of the harmful effects of video games on children are part of his bread and butter. The truth is, we have no proof. Watching G.I. Joe makes children more aggressive when they play immediately afterwards; they tend to rough-house more, or they might kick the air more. Very violent. What we don't have is any evidence that rough-housing and kicking the air are bad for you. In fact, children that show no form of social deviance at all tend to grow up with stunted social skills, and report having a harder time making friends and relating to people once they're adults.
In other words, at some point your children should pee on something they shouldn't pee on, or get creative with a can of spray paint. If they don't, you may need to worry.
As a person whose formal training is in psychology, hearing these statements digs at my skull; it's painful. Hearing them from the mainstream press is even worse.
Without any scientific evidence against video games, this comes down to one group in society disliking the art of another, and seeking government regulation to put an end to it.
I say all that to prove a point: I hate giving Jack Thompson much leeway.
However, it bothers me that a game would exist for the sole purpose of killing people in the game industry. I consider it disgusting that the proposal targets specific, real people, and I think the game dynamics simply wouldn't be much fun.
I don't like the idea, and that was exactly Thompson's point.
The goal was to make people understand, even briefly, the other perspective, the feeling of being targeted. While games like Grand Theft Auto don't specifically target police and have a great deal of surrounding story, I can see how a police officer would feel threatened. I can understand how some politicians would want to act to protect them. I can understand the knee-jerk reaction, even if I disagree with the concepts behind it, or with any suggestion that playing GTA makes me more likely to shot a police officer.
I disagree with Jack Thompson's tactics, the personal attacks, and 98 percent of his opinions I've seen in print, but in this case, as far as I'm concerned, Jack: