A few days back, GamePolitics learned that the Penny Arcade crew was planning an extraordinary event at PAX in late August: a debate involving vitriolic anti-game activist Jack Thompson.
To make an extra splash – and for security reasons – Penny arcade planned not to announce the debate until about an hour before it occurred.
PA’s hope was that Thompson’s opponent would be someone knowledgable about video games like Entertainment Consumer Association (ECA) president Hal Halpin, or perhaps Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA).
Because negotiations were going on behind the scenes, GP was unable to report on the proposed Thompson debate. Yesterday morning, however, things began to fall apart, supposedly over Thompson’s objection to keeping the debate under wraps. Last night Kotaku got hold of the story. In an e-mail circulated to certain media outlets – including GamePolitics, the Miami attorney wrote:
…I would be delighted to do the [debate], but Penny-Arcade’s positon that this must be kept “under wraps” and that I cannot tell the media and others about the event is both absurd and troubling.
For Penny-Arcade to take the position that there must be a news blackout on this strikes me and others as hypocritical to the max. You guys are the ones who think that even adult entertainment materials should be marketed and sold to children because of “freedom of expression,” and yet I am not allowed to tell media and others of this debate? Come on, how transparently double-standard-bound in your machinations can you all be?
GP: Thompson consistently twists the position of those who support the First Amendment’s application to games into “adult entertainment materials should be marketed and sold to children.” This is perfect debate material.
If you want me to come to Seattle and address 6000 hostile people as to why the United States is the only backward nation in the world when it comes to the distribution of adult video games to children, then I will be happy to do it. But your position that only Penny-Arcade gets to tell the world about this event and in the way that only you all get to decide is patently ridiculous.
Man up and realize what the First Amendment is really all about, Robert and I’ll be happy to celebrate it with all my “admirers” in Seattle, including Gabe.
I’ve been in far more hostile environs than what you offer. You all need to grow a pair of what a kid can cut off in Manhunt 2.
GP: Actually, Thompson really blew it here. Penny Arcade’s invitation amounts to a tacit recognition of Miami Jack’s high – albeit, negative – profile among gamers. Now that he has blown the lid off the secrecy of the proposed event, we’d like to see it go forward anyway. But Thompson’s intransigence may have exhausted the patience of the Penny Arcade guys.
GP POLL: What do you think about this? Would you like to see the debate go forward? Vote in the GamePolitics Poll on the upper right sidebar.