Jack Thompson’s Modest Proposal

I realize that this is not the kind of content I would usually present in this forum, but nonetheless, stupidity on such a grand scale cannot be countenanced.

Jack Thompson has, as a sort of grandstanding piece of satire, proposed a particularly violent video game scenario, with the intention of donating $10,000 to charity, should the game be produced.

I myself am not ignorant in the ways of public manipulation. This is a win – win for Thompson. If the game isn’t made, then he spins this as reveling the hypocrisy of the video game industry. Blithely ignoring that studios exist to make money, and producing a game that is directly insulting to their target market is tantamount to suicide, Thompson will claim that the absence of his game points to a hypocrisy in the industry. Underneath, Thompson will say, they know that such a game would cause a flowering of violence in the real world.

And if the game is made? Thompson has created a scenario so horrific that the studio who made it will have made only more evidence for Thompson’s claim that we are all depraved, vicious peddlers of filth and darkness to the fragile and pure children of America.

Thompson misses the essential truth – that America is a disgustingly violent place. The fragile and pure children are nowhere to be found. We live in a culture of violence, in a time of unjustifiable military action, in land stolen from it’s native people by application of force, whose media from Saturday morning cartoons to the evening news is saturated by blood. One wonders if perhaps Thompson himself carried violence in his heart – is this scenario of his what his dreaming self wants to do to the video game industry? When Jack Thompson writes the name “Osaki Kim” does he breath the words “Jack Thompson?”

More to the point, does old Jacky boy not realize that he has created the perfect opportunity to satirize himself, and display as only interactive fiction can, his own lunacy? Showing, in grim high def 3-D detail, the senseless murder of pale, scrawny, geeky high school aged video gamers, innocent and defenseless, by a man who has been told by his culture to take retribution out of the hands of the court and into his own will not help make Thompson’s case.

Thompson is saying very little new – writers, filmmakers, musicians, all have been blamed in the past for our cultural degeneracy. What Thompson adds to the mix is his subtle finger pointing at us, the gamers. Saying that it is our weakness of character, our support for video games that is the real cause of rape and murder – effectively, Thompson is blaming me and mine. Thompson still lives in a world where gamers are the minority, and can be blamed for those things which are epidemic to this country. And that is so insulting, and so irresponsible, that I believe Thompson’s charge must be taken up.

Games can contain stories, and stories can contain ideas. All Thompson sees is gore and robots, just as all my grandparents heard in the Beatles was sex and drugs. He cannot see the ideas, and as a man with no soul he cannot see the power of storytelling. He has presented us with a scenario which a talented game designer could turn into a bleak tale of individual madness, the culture that praises and nurtures it, and the idiocy of the scapegoat.

I truly hope that someone with the talent and the balls takes up the task.

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