Jack’s back (Thompson that is) and this time its the nutcase vs. the video game freaks at Penny-Arcade.
This time around, Thompson made a bizarre offer to pay $10,000 to any game developer who would put out a crude game in which a relative of a victim of video game-inspired violence takes his revenge on game developers. Presumably Thompson was being satirical, though who knows what goes on in this nutcase’s head, and his point was that video game developers wouldn’t create a game where they were the objects of violence. Of course, within short order there were numerous mod projects to fulfill Thompson’s proposal to a T. Thompson responded by saying he was just being satirical and took this $10,000 and went home.
Alas, that was not to be the end of the story. The enterprising folks at Penny-Arcade felt if Thompson wouldn’t keep his word, they would — having been satisfied that Thompson’s challenge had been met, they donated $10,000 in Jack Thompson’s name to The Entertainment Software Association.
That prompted Thompson to fax a letter to Seattle police demanding that they arrest the Penny Arcade folks for harassing and attempting to extort him. Thompson is not just against video game violence, he’s apparently against any speech he disagrees with.
The weird thing is that Thompson still appears on respectable television programs despite a) not knowing what he’s talking about, and b) being an obvious nutcase.
On the first point, Thompson’s Monday night appearance on CNN is an example of his ignorance of the very video game market he wants to destroy. He appeared on Anderson Cooper’s show to talk about the well-reviewed but controversial “Blitz: The League” — the latest installment of what used to be NFL Blitz. According to Penny-Arcade, Thompson offered this judgment of the latest Blitz game,
The NFL wouldn’t allow it’s name to be used, so that tells you something.
This is a demonstrably ignorant statement for someone who passes himself off as an expert on video games. The National Football League recently reached an exclusive agreement with Electronic Arts making EA the only company that can make games with the NFL brand. Midway is not part of EA, so it simply cannot make NFL branded games regardless of how banal or controversial they are. Even if they had loved the game (very doubtful), the NFL could have allowed their name to be associated with the latest Blitz.
More importantly, the ultra violence and some of the more controversial elements of Blitz are clearly veiled shots at the NFL. One feature of Blitz, for example, allows players to juice up their players with any number of steroids to help them perform better or recover more quickly from injury (the player also has to deal with random drug tests and other repercussions for players using steroids).
As for whether or not Thompson is a nutcase, as I’ve maintained, your mileage may vary, but he proved it to my mind in 1988 when running against Janet Reno for the position of Florida Attorney General. Thompson’s campaign premise was quite simple — Reno was a closet lesbian, so she could not be trusted to be attorney general.
At a campaign debate, Thompson actually handed Reno a piece of paper with three checkboxes that read, “I, Janet Reno, am a homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual. If you do not respond then you will be deemed to have checked one of the first two boxes.” Reno wadded up the piece of paper and ignored Thompson, but he kept hitting away at his theme that Reno was a closeted lesbian and was susceptible to being blackmailed if she was elected.
Nut. Case. And CNN guest expert to talk about video games. Go figure.