Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I Hate Jack Thompson (too)

Man, what a complete and utter asshole. He abuses the legal system and the media for his own twisted vision of righteousness (which comes at the cost of free speech, btw). Now he's fucking around with Penny Arcade because Tycho and Gabe had the audacity to call him out on his shenanigans.

Anyway, in case you're not aware, this is the creep that keeps on saying that video games are a CAUSE of violence in youth, along with a lot of other stupid crap. Seriously, the guy is, from all outward indications, out of touch with reality. If you hear the guy say the sky is blue, you'd better double check for yourself.


lem said...

while i agree that this guy is over the top, are you really going to argue that violent video games have no effect on kids? i think video games desensitize kids and if i ever have children you can be damn sure that my 5 year old isn't going to be playing mortal combat 300 or whatever number it gets to. there are no consequences in video games. not blaming video games, but society in general, did you hear about the kid who threw a 30 lb (i think ) turkey out of a moving car and almost killed a woman? yeah, she has some brain damage and pleaded for the kid, so he only got 6 months in jail. i think there ia lack of responsibility in society today. sorry for the long rambly post gabe

Gabe said...

You're right, I probably overstated it implying video games have no relation to violence in youth. But I largely attribute such things to children (or easily influence/manipulated minds) themselves. An analogy might be: a kid saw a Superman cartoon and then wrapped a towel around his neck and jumped off the roof of the house. To say that watching Superman resulted in a kid, for example, breaking his own arm, is one thing, but to say it's the cause is entirely another thing.

From the Wikipedia article:
In 1999, Thompson filed a $33 million federal products liability class action lawsuit against a number of entertainment companies, including Time Warner Inc., Polygram Film Entertainment Distribution Inc., Palm Pictures, Island Pictures and New Line Cinema, Atari Corp., Nintendo of America, Sega of America Inc. and Sony Computer Entertainment, on behalf of the parents of victims of the 1997 Paducah schoolhouse shootings. These included the producers and distributors of the movie The Basketball Diaries, Internet sex website operators and a variety of video game producers. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case in 2002.

Since the failure of the Paducah lawsuit, Thompson has continued to pursue the companies that develop violent video games in court: he has attempted to link the Columbine High School massacre and the Washington Sniper to first-person shooters; he has frequently attacked Rockstar, linking Rockstar North's Manhunt game and Grand Theft Auto series to a wide variety of murders, particularly those involving vehicles or weapons other than firearms.

From that much, it's clear that Thompson is trying to attribute direct and willful actions on the part of, among others, video game makers in the actions of individuals who have played their games.

I think the best thing, as you seem to be heading (and I think Thompson has said, too), is to have age restrictions on certain titles (and penalties for retailers who do not enforce the restrictions), and a way for parents to more easily identify the content a game has.

As to whether violent video games actually have an effect on kids (such as desensitization), for kids, I think (and of course, I am no expert, and have done no experimentation) it would be common sense to say that a violent game would desensitize a child to violence, whereas in an adult, it may only serve as an outlet for stress or frustration.

One interesting thing to find out would be the number of incidences of violence per number of children per year both pre- and post-video games (of course this is also simple-minded because it's assuming there aren't other factors like urbanization and other new technologies, etc...). Kids are kids and are wont to do stupid things. Chances are, video games are only the scapegoat for stupidity, not the cause.

Gabe said...

Just to be clear, regarding that analogy, I would say the actual cause of him jumping off the roof would be his desire to fly and his lack of understanding of how flight works.

Just as with the kid who threw the turkey out the window, clearly he had either a) no idea of the consequences or b) no sense (or a loose sense) of right and wrong. When he grows up, I'm sure he'll be fine (and hopefully that lady will be alright, too). That's why there are juvenile laws and adult laws. It's just that some things are so heinous (like, I recall reading a story of how some boys tortured and killed a baby), it cannot be excused. When that happens, being tried as an adult, I think (I'm no lawyer) that means you are responsible for your actions, 100%.

lem said...

I would actually lay more blame on the parents than video games or anything else. Par to fbeing a parent is instilling your child with moral values, which I think is really lacking in society today. Proabbly because children are stuck in daycare at 6 weeks old. That's a whole othe rargument though. :)

Gabe said...

Haha, what're you, like 80 years old or something? Kids messing with your lawn? :) Honestly, I have no experience with kids. I don't really like them.

Linking back to that Gross National Happiness thing, I think one of Bhutan's measures was time spent with family. And really, there are a lot of factors going on here, I think.

For one, real estate costs are rising across the country. I heard that the middle class is actually inching toward dissolution. For a lot of families, both parents working isn't a choice, but a necessity.

But I agree with you. Raising a child is largely the responsibility of the parent or parents. That being said, there's that adage about it taking a village to raise a child, and that's precisely what's going on here. And then again, sometimes parents shouldn't be allowed to raise their child at all (see my post about Prussian Blue).