A comment posted on GamePolitics last week by Miami attorney Jack Thompson took on an Internet life of its own in recent days as the Take Two-hatin’ activist vowed to create problems for Take Two’s upcoming BioShock:
Big trouble is on the way for Take-Two re BioShock. Hooah!
The other hooah dropped this morning as Thompson dashed off a letter complaining to the Federal Trade Commission about BioShock TV ads appearing during Friday night’s airing of WWE Smackdown. From Thompson’s FTC complaint:
Take-Two… is aggressively marketing its newest Mature-rated video game to kids under 17 years of age… On this Friday’s night’s 8 pm Eastern time airing of WWE’s wrestling program “Smackdown,” there were repeated ads for Take-Two/Rockstar Game’s Mature-rated, incredibly violent BioShock…
A check of the demographics of the audience of that program reveals that teens under 17 years of age watch that program in huge numbers…
Remarkably, the video game industry is running ads for games like BioShock on teen-intensive television programs while at the same time its industry-captured “watchdog,” the ESRB, is running a self-congratulatory ad campaign to assure parents that the video game ratings system is working and that the industry can be trusted not to target their kids with these Mature-rated games. It is all a lie, as the BioShock ads prove.
This rampant fraudulent trade practice is precisely what “Big Tobacco” did with its “Joe Camel” and other teen-targeting ads, while at the same time lying to Congress that it was not marketing its adult product to kids.
GP: As GamePolitics noted in our April coverage of the FTC’s most recent report on the marketing of violence to children (see: FTC Report Praises, Spanks Video Game Industry), the federal agency found that the video game industry:
…generally comply with their own voluntary standards regarding the display of ratings and labels. However, entertainment industries continue to market some R-rated movies, M-rated video games, and explicit-content recordings on television shows and Web sites with substantial teen audiences.
Despite Thompson’s bluster, we’re not so sure this qualifies as “big trouble” for BioShock…