Scoring the Thompson-Lanning Debate at VGXPO …now with Audio Clips!

Controversial Miami attorney Jack Thompson and game developer Lorne Lanning (Oddworld series) engaged in debate yesterday at the VXGPO in Philadelphia. 

The event followed the screening of Spencer Halpin’s Moral Kombat, an as-yet unreleased documentary which chronicles the video game violence debate. Both Thompson and Lanning appear in the film. Newsweek’s N’Gai Croal served as moderator.

Chris Grant has an excellent blow-by-blow at Joystiq. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the debate we were informed there would be no filming or photography permitted. Apparently the official video of debate is to appear on the DVD of Moral Kombat as an extra feature. However, prior to that announcement being made I managed to capture a little bit of the pre-debate: 

I’ll defer to Joystiq’s excellent reportage on the who-said-what and instead offer my overall impressions…

It’s clear that Thompson can turn on the charm when he wants to. During the debate he was at times witty, self-deprecating, and not at all like the combative Thompson who frequents the GamePolitics comments area. In some ways he connected with the crowd better than did Lanning. (mp3: Thompson makes a funny)

In retrospect, the Oddworld developer could have done better. He missed some obvious openings left by Thompson and at several points in the debate drifted off into far-ranging tangents about things like global warming and nutrition.

Lanning did manage to score some broad points against Thompson, asserting that Jack is in it for the money vis-a-vis his involvement in a pair of wrongful death lawsuits against the deep-pocketed video game industry. Perhaps. It’s hard to know what motivates Thompson. (mp3: Lanning’s lawsuit rant)

All in all, however, I found myself wishing Lanning would call Thompson on the attorney’s schtick, which wasn’t much different from what we see on his frequent TV appearances. Thompson, for example, launched into his oft-repeated line about how violent video games could not be considered art because they don’t fit the ancient Greek definition of art. Perhaps that sounds authoritative – oh, the ancient Greeks! – but how is it even relevant? Since when do the ancient Greeks get to define what today’s art is?

Regarding school shootings, Thompson repeated his mantra about kids going to school with guns for 200 years in this country in order to shoot their dinner on the way home. This was by way of saying school shootings cannot be traced to easy gun availablity. Cite a reference, please, Jack. Which kids? Which 200 years? It sounds apocryphal from here.

Thompson trotted out the 1997 Paducah, Kentucky school shooting as evidence that violent games (Doom, in this case) cause school shootings. It would have been nice for Lanning to have pointed out that the Paducah lawsuit against video games utterly failed to convince the court.

N’Gai played the role of the neutral moderator well, although he actually put Thompson on the spot at one point. As he often does, Thompson was complaining that the video game industry had targeted him because of his Christian activism. As Chris Grant blogged about the exchange on Joystiq:

Jack mentions the Bar complaints raised against him by the video game industry. Says that speaking publicly about faith isn’t tolerated. N’Gai points out that the major political candidates have all spoken publicly about their faith.

Thompson also got into a rant about an old nemesis, former ESA president Doug Lowenstein (mp3: Thompson and Lanning argue about Doug)

The audience was afforded some Q&A time as well, with the best question coming from a guy who designs simulation games. He wondered how Thompson could call various titles “murder simulators” and such, since they didn’t fit the criteria for simulation modeling. No real answer…

And as to GP’s interaction with Thompson?

There wasn’t any. I didn’t approach him and he didn’t approach me.

UPDATE: Wired’s Susan Arendt has more on the debate. Mashed Buttons has its own view. Over at Bits, Bytes, Pixels & Sprites Dan Zuccarelli offers his impressions…

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  1. 0
    ooftygoofty says:

    In C. S. Lewis’ space trilogy, there is a sequence involving a demonic character who, when it suits him, can use logic and reasoning, but will quickly toss it away as soon as he can. His natural state is not only grossly offensive, but unbelievably stupid too. I don’t think I need to say how this fits the present situation.

  2. 0
    Anonymous says:

    I was only able to speak briefly with folks after the long discussion, because I had to go do a Spike TV interview, which was prearranged.

    … Wait a minute…

    because I had to go do a Spike TV interview

    For someone who has been on 60 Minutes and likes to constantly bring it up, you sure have had some interesting “main stream” coverage with G4, unknown blogs, etc and now this.

    Makes me wonder what shows or programs were those three interviews on….

  3. 0
    DavCube ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Secondly, the Greeks defined and practiced art. I’ll take their view over Take-Two’s gun for hire, Strauss Zelnick, anytime. Zelnick the shill, if you remember, told the BBC that M2 is “fine art.” Incredible.”

    Art is an opinion, Mr. Thompson. Not once in any school was it taught that we all had to follow the Greek ways of interpreting the world. America isn’t that black and white. What a great country we have.

  4. 0
    Father Time ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    If that was the only thing you got out of oedipis rex than you weren’t paying attention. The play deals with the aspect of fate. Can it be defied (by anyone but Kratos)? Do you ultimately seal your own fate by trying to defy it (it can be argued that that was the case with oedipus)? Then there is the ending scene which can be interpreted in many ways. So few works of the ancient greeks survive to this day, tragic.

  5. 0
    Karen says:


    “If you take a man wittily and professionally says in a well rehearsed manner that 2+2=5, and a man who stumbles over his words and says 2+2=4, who is right?”

    Unfortunately, in this case it was more like one man saying 2+2=5 in a well rehearsed manner and the other saying 2+2=purple in an off the cuff manner. Also, when it comes to debates, winning is not determined by what’s right but rather by who most succesfully presents his point of view in a logical and well ordered fashion.

  6. 0
    Paul ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Just a question, Jack: I understand that you don’t find GTA/Manhunt to be art. That’s fine, and I even tend to agree with you. However, do you believe there are other games with artistic elements out there that could be defined as “art”?

  7. 0
    Ix says:


    I haven’t had time to read everything here, nor at the link to a more complete description of the debate but I just can’t let your comment about the Greeks go by unanswered.

    The Greeks were incredibly violent in many ways, and along with the Romans, had plays where they would bring out convicted criminals and execute them for death scenes in plays. Though I think Valoharth was a little off on the Dionysia festival. I can’t find anything at present, nor do I recall anything from studying the Greeks that said there was human sacrifice at this particular festival. There was animal sacrifice (which was also eaten), massive drinking, and city-wide orgies since Dionysis was the god of wine (and partying, man those Greeks knew how to party).

    The long and the short of it though, Jack, is that you should make sure you at least have some sort of clue about what you are saying before you open your mouth. By your standards we can now include bound convicts and swords with games for children to execute them at the right point in the game, since the Greeks didn’t care if the people viewing the play were 5 or 50. I’m sure that would make an interesting children’s game, “after you finish this block puzzle take your convict and chop his head off to continue… “

    I really don’t imagine you managing to do this though since the above is fact, something you ignore completely on your ignorant “crusade to protect the kiddies”.

  8. 0
    Kincyr ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @jack thompson, attorney
    “Dear TheGreg: First off, TheGreg, get a real name.”

    Funny, I don’t remember names in America not being capitalized, nor do I remember ‘attorney’ being part of your name.

  9. 0
    Boffo97 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    The Ancient Greeks would have never defined a movie as art for the same reason they wouldn’t have defined a video game as art. They had never heard of one.

    Any sane modern person would concede a movie can be art.

    Therefore your definition is flawed.

    Therefore a game can be art.

  10. 0
    Shoehorn O'Plenty ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Secondly, the Greeks defined and practiced art.”

    That does not mean they have copyright on it… They also defined the musical scales, that does not mean they define the only things that can be done with them.

    “Jack Thompson most definitely won the debate. He didn’t win me over to his point of view, but he was professional, witty, and well-rehearsed.”

    If you take a man wittily and professionally says in a well rehearsed manner that 2+2=5, and a man who stumbles over his words and says 2+2=4, who is right? Witty and well rehearsed does not win debates, facts do. Jack offered several of his own opinions (that Doom was responsible for the Paducah killings, that video games are not art,etc.) but no real facts.

  11. 0
    kurisu7885 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @jack thompson, attorney

    “I had to go do a Spike TV interview, which was prearranged.”

    Spikes TV? Scraping the bottom of the barrel huh? Only worthy show I watch on there is Star Trek now.

    “As to Lorne’s allegations that I’m in this fight for the money–that was one of the funniest lines of the afternoon. It didn’t sit well with the audience.”

    That explains the applause, however I’m surprised it wasn’t flat out laughter, as the gaming industry makes more than the movie industry, is newer, and you ignore other factors in these events such as psychological trauma, mental problems, bullying, home problems, peer pressure, ACTUAL firearms training the person may have had. Ya, V Tech was great proof you aren’t in it for the money ,since you blamed video games before there was even a body count, and ya, since Counter Strike WAS NOT installed on that computer, I”m sure Solitaire or Pinball is REALLY violent.

    By the way, parts of the above were sarcasm, since it has to be eye bleedingly obvious for you to get it.

    “Dear TheGreg: First off, TheGreg, get a real name.”

    This is the internet, we’re entitled to our anonymity. You wanting us to give out our real names only shows your disregard for other’s personal safety, like, I dunno, your son’s?

    “Dear TheGreg: First off, TheGreg, get a real name.

    Secondly, the Greeks defined and practiced art. I’ll take their view over Take-Two’s gun for hire, Strauss Zelnick, anytime. Zelnick the shill, if you remember, told the BBC that M2 is “fine art.” Incredible. “

    Well, storytelling is a form of art, and most games,Manhunt 2 included, tells a story as you play the game through dialogue and cuts cenes, so I guess to some people, Manhunt 2 can be art, because art is in the eye of the beholder.

    Because ONE person doesn’t see something as art doesn’t make it arbitrarily not art to anyone else.

  12. 0
    jack thompson, attorney ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Thanks, Robb, for this:

    “Jack Thompson most definitely won the debate. He didn’t win me over to his point of view, but he was professional, witty, and well-rehearsed.”

    Maybe my opponent at the GDC will stick with the issue and not slip into the ad hominem quagmire. I hope so. The former cheats the audience.

    GP: it’s quite ironic that you would cite anyone else for ad hominen attacks…

  13. 0
    jack thompson, attorney ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I didn’t thank GP, dude. I thanked the attendees. GP was afraid to identify itself. Fine, I exclude them and it from my thanks. Happy now?

    GP: GP is most definitely not afraid to identify itself. However, GP does not extend itself to those who are menacing it & its readers with frivolous legal action

  14. 0
    jack thompson, attorney ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Dear TheGreg: First off, TheGreg, get a real name.

    Secondly, the Greeks defined and practiced art. I’ll take their view over Take-Two’s gun for hire, Strauss Zelnick, anytime. Zelnick the shill, if you remember, told the BBC that M2 is “fine art.” Incredible.

  15. 0
    jack thompson, attorney ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Excuse me, Dennis. But as to my “rant” about Doug Lowenstein, Lorne Lanning brought him up, I didn’t. Lorne said Doug is now representing arms dealers. Get your facts straight.

    Also, as confirming the GDC offer, which I accepted: I have given Dennis McCauley the phone number and name of the lady who extended the offer, and he can confirm it or choose not to. I have accepted the offer. I’ll be there. Jack Thompson

    GP: My facts are straight. I never said you brought him up, but you did get into a rant about him, as you always do when his name comes up. Lorne is wrong about the arms dealer thing. Doug works for the Private Equity Council.

  16. 0
    TheGreg says:

    For the 100th time people…..

    The ancient greeks are not the end all be all of civilization, if they were they would still be around as a major force in today’s world, they are not.

    Art is art, something that exists for the enjoyment of it’s audience. It’s subject to interpretation of course, but if you’ve a problem with it then it’s your problem, not a problem with the peice.

  17. 0
    Jesse Aaron Young ( User Karma: 0 ) says:



    I freakin’ LOVED the Abe games. Pure genius. Besides Crash, they were the first games I ever owned.

  18. 0
    DCOW ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Jack Thompson, once again, you prove yourself a man of two minds.

    You claim to thank GP, yet was it not even 6 months ago you were calling GP a “lapdog of the industry”, “a propoganda site”, and that “gp ought to stand for godless pissants” ?

    last time I checked, when you call a website those kind of names, you don’t thank anyone from that site.

  19. 0
    Chuma ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Thanks to all who attended what was more discussion than debate.”

    From what little I have heard from the coverage, I think I can agree with that. Really doesn’t seem to have made any inroads into the whole debate of gaming culture and legislation, which I thought it was set up to do. Sadly this is a bit of an anti-climax. We had Jack up on stage on his best behaviour answering questions and noone asked anything of note. Shame.

  20. 0
    Shoehorn O'Plenty ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “As to Lorne’s allegations that I’m in this fight for the money–that was one of the funniest lines of the afternoon. It didn’t sit well with the audience.”

    Does that explain the applause? The fact that you are trying to blame these horrific events on an industry simply because you don’t like it, it has deep pockets and is still relatively new and undefended compared to the entrenched movie and music industries is what didn’t sit well with the audience.

  21. 0
    Miang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Scott

    I can tell because I have exchanged emails with the real Thompson in the past and the writing style of the person who’s IP Dennis has confirmed is Thompson’s is consistent with those emails. It is also consistent with his style of writing in the court briefs we have all read that were penned by Thompson. His writing style is fairly distinct. Further the writer Dennis has confirmed as the real Thompson has pointed out stories that were later posted by Dennis in response to Thompson’s words. He has also talked about things that were only known to Thompson, Dennis and a handful of others, such as the fact that Dennis filed a bar complaint against Thompson. Since it would be illegal for anyone involved in the Bar process to talk about those complaints and Dennis never said anything to keep from violating the Bar’s rules himself it had to actually be Thompson. There are many people who try and impersonate Thompson but we usually can tell the difference and anyway Dennis usually deletes the imitators.

  22. 0
    C'tri says:

    Dennis IP checks whoever comes on as JT, and bans impersonators.

    in general, i’m impressed, this interview shows a bit of the professionalism and general charisma expected of lawyers, keep it up JT :)

  23. 0
    video game time ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ scott

    It seems like every so often some idiot would come on to act like Jack Thompson.

    Dennis usually gets rid of the fake Jack Thompson comments right away.

    I could usually tell if it is the real Jack Thompson after seeing his several comments so I would have to say that most of the Jack Thompson comments that we see are from the real Jack Thompson.

    I am sure that Jack Thompson will be on in a little while to brag about being at the VGXPO.

    @ Jack Thompson

    I still have not seen where a store let your son buy Manhunt 2.


  24. 0
    scott says:


  25. 0
    rdeegvainl ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “He asks about Jack’s comments in the film about the differences in violence in art or video games.
    Jack says, ‘I draw a distinction between Beowulf and Grand Theft Auto.’
    Lorne says, ‘Yeah, I think the distinction is six-hundred million dollars.’”

    What about the BEOWOLF game to be made by UBISOFT, what then?

  26. 0
    Black Manta ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Robb

    Sorry, but from where I stood, Lorne won. Maybe it’s a question of perspective. We all know Jack’s wrong. In my mind he didn’t win me over as he brought out the same old record he’s been playing over and over again and I don’t think he really convinced anyone else either. As I said, Lorne may not have been exactly the best, but for once we actually had someone who knew about video games and could argue from the creative freedom position.

    Jack is in it for the money and he’s a religous zealot. Of that there is no question and I thought Lorne was perfectly right to call him on it, because no one else has whenever he’s been on TV. When it was over and people got up to applaud, they were really more applauding Lorne.

    Jack can claim to have won all he likes. But if he comments on here, I will be the first to remind him that he LOST!

  27. 0
    jonc2006 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    thompson, the game industy isnt attacking christianity, you are. your antics are the direct opposite of what that religion teachs, and with those antics and you claim to following that faith, you portray a false image of christianity and basically slandering it. im guessing the only part of the bible you have looked at is the cover.

  28. 0
    Cowboy Beboper says:

    This really, really makes me mad. Why is that that when he gets onto these debates, he manages to carry on with a somewhat respectful manner, and yet become a complete flaming r-tard when he gets on here?

    You just KNOW Jack is going to come on here with his same old tired Internet troll bullsh*t, claiming that even gamers found him decent, that Lorne was weak and couldn’t compete with God’s almighty soldier. This is what truly causes me to hate this man. He’s nothing but a two faced douche bag.

  29. 0
    Robb ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I was at the debate. Jack was VERY prepared. He didn’t have things written down, but it was an old argument he’s had many times. Lorne, on the other hand, decided to go by wits alone, and failed miserably, which is a shame. Lorne attacked Jack’s religion and money-making, being very emotional to the point it made Jack’s job easier. Personally, the religion and monetary aspects weren’t coherent in the context of the debate.

    One thing Jack said was very important about suing companies and such for indirectly causing a wrongful death. He said (paraphrased) that, “all you have to show is that the product (the game) was an indispensible part of what eventually led to the outcome.” That was the perfect time for Lorne to step in and explain all the different ways the murders blamed on video games could have come about without practicing headshots on Quake. He missed it, and lost that part of the argument pretty badly.

    The Alabama case (I can’t remember the details) makes the incredible claim that the killer had never shot a gun before. There is no way to tell if he had practiced with a gun at a range or in private, so that assertion is pretty ludicrous.

    On Columbine, Jack asserted that both gunmen were too young to buy guns, but it was well documented that the oldest was of-age, 18, to buy guns.

    Jack also slipped one by when he asserted that games like GTA and Manhunt 2 would carry the equivalent of NC-17 if they were rated like movies and therefore should be AO and restricted from minors. Rating a game NC-17 means no one under 17 should purchase, and NC-17 is EXACTLY the same as the current rating of M, which states not suitable for those under 17. Manhunt 2 is rated M. His statements were contradictory. And for the record, the last NC-17 movie I bought (which was definitely R material) did not flash the “Check ID” message , meaning any clerk would not have been alerted to make sure the purchaser was 17+.

    One of the people who posed a question was a young man who identified himself as a “lawyer.” After the debate, this young lawyer flipped-off Jack. Not very mature. I can’t wait until he flips off a judge.

    Also, one of the women interviewed in Moral Kombat movie declares the 9/11 hijackers flew the planes SOLELY from simulators. It was well documented that they took flight school. It’s not an error of the movie, she was just wrong with her facts during the interview.

    Jack Thompson most definitely won the debate. He didn’t win me over to his point of view, but he was professional, witty, and well-rehearsed.

    During the interview, the audience was polled on GTA as a “Cop Killing Simulator.” Many of the audience members pointed out how quickly bad things went for the player if he shot cops in GTA, and how it discourages the player from virtual cop killing.

  30. 0
    Father Time ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Bad idea. A really really bad idea. We all know Jack has a grudge against Denis and I wouldn’t be surprised if the reverse was true so the debate would end bad. Now if Jack had never heard about gamepolitics (imagine how different the world would be) then i’d still think it a bad idea.

    Now if you could take Denis and JT and have them debate over something unrelated to games or politics (something trivial which neither feels strongly about) then that would be something I would like to see.

  31. 0
    Austin from Oregon ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    you know, i would love to see a JT vs. Dennis debate on cnn sometime. really, it would be a nice change to have someone completely informed and focused (meaning no political agenda, global warming…are you serious?).
    sounds like this debate wasn’t a bad one though.

  32. 0
    illspirit ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Tactically, yea, a school shooting fits the definition of terrorism. I only differentiate because some people object to using the term when it’s not a politically motivated act.

    Jesse Ventura’s idea sounds good to me too. As does the Israelis’. What doesn’t work though are “no guns” signs and wishful thinking.

    In theory, the “cotton ball” effect I mentioned above might be lessened if the Federal government banned and confiscated all firearms. But any attempt to do so would no doubt start a civil war. Then, even if a confiscation could magically happen, there are plenty of other methods besides guns. Like the Bath incident which had a larger body count than VT.

    Not to mention the Beslan school attack where some 300+ teachers and students were gunned down despite Russia having some of the strictest gun laws in the world.

  33. 0
    Timmy says:

    In regards to this part: “Thompson, for example, launched into his oft-repeated line about how violent video games could not be considered art because they don’t fit the ancient Greek definition of art. Perhaps that sounds authoritative – oh, the ancient Greeks! – but how is it even relevant? Since when do the ancient Greeks get to define what today’s art is?”

    Not even that, but Salvidor Dali made some beautifully ugly art, as did Escher at times, and more recently, Belskinski (sp?). In terms of composition versus subject matter, it seems Jack is arguing that only the games with more advanced graphics could be art.

    On a more serious note, recall to the time in Lousiana, just after Katrina when Jack held up the game Vice City and proclaimed it “not art”. The back of the box, however, reads “Having just amde it back onto the streets of Liberty City after a long stretch inside, Tommy Vercetti is sent to Vice City by his old boss, Sonny Forelli. But all does not go smoothly upon his arrival in the glamorous, hedonistic metropolis of Vice City. Tommy is set up and loses everything. Sonny wants his money back, but the biker gangs, Cuban gangsters, and corrupt politicans stand in his way. Most of Vice City seems to want Tommy dead. His only answer is to fight back and take over the city himself.”

    In other words, there is a story,an actual piece of literature protected by the First Amendment, ie, art.

  34. 0
    Phoenix, Filmmaker says:

    As I said before…I don’t agree with Jack…at all…and i still hate him…but I do tip my hat to him for this. He actually debated, he was moderately civil, and I didn’t hear a single threat from him. To be perfectly honest, Dennis, I think your being a little critical of him here, but I don’t blame you. After all, he has been a real asshole to you and everyone here.

  35. 0
    BearDogg-X says:

    @ illspirit

    You can basically say that a school shooting is a terrorist act.

    Jesse Ventura had the right idea in his book “Do I Stand Alone?”: have a well-trained person with an ankle holster pose as a janitor.

  36. 0
    GryphonOsiris ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Dennis, I think he-who-must-not-be-named must have taken his meds that day, it’s the only explanation of his civil behavior… that or he cut back on cheap scotch or something… who knows really.

  37. 0
    illspirit ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    GP: Regarding school shootings, Thompson repeated his mantra about kids going to school with guns for 200 years in this country in order to shoot their dinner on the way home. This was by way of saying school shootings cannot be traced to easy gun availablity. Cite a reference, please, Jack. Which kids? Which 200 years? It sounds apocryphal from here.

    Jack is correct on the facts. His cause and effect theory is dodgy, but the timeline is about right.

    Before the 1934 National Firearms Act, a kid (or anyone else) could buy a machine gun at a hardware store or through mail order, cash and carry, no questions asked. Until that point, the only known school massacre was the Bath School Disaster in 1927, in which an adult blew up a school with dynamite and killed 44 people and himself.

    Before the 1968 Gun Control Act, one could still buy non-automatic rifles and handguns via mail order or from a store with no questions asked. Until this time, there were only a few school shootings, almost all of which involved adults at college. See also: Charles Whitman.

    Before the The Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 (which was ruled unconstitutional and replaced by a new version in 1995), kids could (and did) carry rifles to school. Be it for hunting after class, or for varsity shooting teams. Up through the late ’70s/ early ’80s, even New York City had shooting teams in public schools. In a number of States, faculty and adult students could also carry handguns to school before the Federal law passed. And until this law, school shootings were still quite rare. Most of which, again, involved adult shooters. In all but a couple of incidents, no more than two or three people (including the shooter) died.

    Long story short, it wasn’t until schools became “gun-free zones” that the shootings became a common occurrence. The timing just happens to coincide with the rise in violent games like Doom and Mortal Kombat. This is where I cease to agree with Jack though. :p

    IMHO, the main reason for all the shootings is that schools are a soft target now, which is quite attractive to people who want to kill lots of people. To me, this is obvious. Banning guns in single buildings in the middle of a city/state/country filled with guns is like tossing a cotton ball into a bath tub and asking it to stay dry. Much like the air pockets in a cotton ball create a void which the laws of physics demand the water to fill, a “gun-free zone” creates a power vacuum which attracts sociopathic losers.

    Israel experienced a similar phenomenon, only in reverse. They started with ban on guns at schools, and after a number of terrorist school shootings, they armed the teachers and parents in the mid ’70s. And school shootings promptly ceased to exist; terrorist or otherwise.

  38. 0
    Terminator44 says:

    @Black Manta

    You may have a point. Unfortunatly, many of us have to just take what we can from coverage by GP and Joystiq. A transcript sure would be nice :(.

    Regardless, I am well aware of the debate format. Thus, I noticed that the Joystiq coverage didn’t really touch upon one of the most important parts of it: the rebuttal. Yes, some of Lourne’s rhetorical arguments were solid, but others would have fallen apart like a house of cards if they were challenged. I mean, Jack mentions a study about T-rated games being as violent as M-rated ones, and Lourne makes a reference to the Iraq War. All I have to say to that is, WTF? Not only is that OT, it has no factual basis, only an emotional one.

    Yes, I know emotional arguments can sometimes be valid ones, be you should at least try to rely on factual evidence. To me, positions with that kind of backing are the strongest, and I saw little indication of them here. For example, when N’Gai challenged Jack on the Paduch case, did he point out that a psychologist that interviewed Carneal confirmed that he had handled firearms before? That fact would have damaged his argument greatly and could have been discovered after a couple minutes’ research. JT has brought up the case in almost every debate he has been in, so Lourne could at least have prepared for that.

    Yes, Lourne may have beaten JT is rhetoric, but it was nearly the victory that could have been achieved over him. His arguments are so full of holes, so full of patently false claims, that anyone who was prepared could have torn them apart, without the ad-hominem attacks you imply we expected. This ties back into my orignial argument that neither of them meaningfully prepared for this debate, which is the OPPOSITE of what should be done in a traditional debate. That’s why many of us feel disappointed.

    All of this doesn’t even account for the point made by several posters here that Lourne and JT weren’t the best people to get together in a debate over violence in video games. Oh well.

  39. 0
    Black Manta ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Pierre-Olivier

    Thank you. :) I know there’s other Chrisitians out there who are far more tolerant and open-minded and don’t act the way Jack does (one of my best friends is one of them). I just wish the ones that are were more vocal in denouncing them than the ones that aren’t. I and people like me are just tired of them saying that everything I like or do is wrong and trying to deprive me of what I enjoy when our lifestyles aren’t hurting anyone or ourselves, really. All we want is to be left alone and be free to choose what we want to do or buy and not have that choice taken away from us, which is what Jack and others like him are trying to do.

    And your english is just fine, so don’t worry. :)

  40. 0
    jadedcritic ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Doesn’t change the past, won’t change the future. In that we’re agreed. However, at a minimum – I think we need to be big enough to give him credit for doing something we said/told him repeatedly that he wouldn’t or can’t do, have a civil debate.

    No doubt in my mind – lunatic jack will be back before you know it; for now, at least, let’s be thankful that a civil discussion on the subject was had for once instead of 2 min network save-the-children soundbytes.

  41. 0
    Walker T says:


    We’re not critisising the fact that he debated, just the way he did. Ever since he pulled an ‘I hate niggers’ (Die Hard 3) he’s never admitted fault. Before he gets over his self-image as a paragon I’ll never give him credit because he showed up in a situation that acted in accordance with stroking his ego.


    No one wants to prove out the errors in his ‘facts’ because they’ll end up getting sued for having brown hair.


    There’s a difference between guts and an overconfident sense of ‘I’m right and you’re all wrong’.

  42. 0
    Internet Hate Machine ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Black Manta

    Well spoken mate.

    Heh, reminds me of a few ‘internet rules’.

    Rule 11: All your carefully picked arguements can be ignored.
    Rule 12: Anything you say can and will be used against you.
    Rule 13: Anything you say can be turned into something else – fixed.
    Rule 14: Do not argue with trolls, it means they win.
    Rule 15: The harder you try the harder you will fail.
    Rule 16: If you fail in epic proportions, it may just become a winning failure.
    Rule 19: The more you hate it, the stronger it gets.
    Rule 20: Nothing is to be taken seriously.

  43. 0
    Pierre-Olivier ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    He got some guts, I give him that.

    But it doesn’t change that since the and the GamerDad incident, I lost any respect (if I had any) for him.

  44. 0
    jadedcritic ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I could be opening myself up to getting flamed here, but I can’t help but see a certain basic hypocrisy in what’s been said. Maybe we ought to give a little credit where credit’s due. We’ve been calling the guy every name in the book, and asserting that he’s unwilling to open debate. In the defense of the devil, it seems like he just did open debate in a very public, extremely hostile forum.

    And the first thing we do is criticize him for it?

    Granted, I don’t like the guy. I don’t like him because he’s a bully and he’s trying to use the court system as his own personal weapon to legislate his own sense of morality; but cmon’ guys, throw the guy a bone. It CANNOT be easy to stand up in front of 200 hostile people for what you believe. (No matter how misguided that may be.)

    All I’m trying to say is it’s only a matter of time before he shows up and gets belligerant and insulting again, so in the meantime, let’s just sit back and enjoy the show.

  45. 0
    Miang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    What I hate is that Thompson can go to these things and say he only wants to keep games out of the hands of children without anyone challenging this statement. Frankly his credibility needs to be challenged so that the people who attend these things can see for themselves what kind of source of information Thompson really is. I would like to see someone debate him who will point out that the studies Thompson cites only point out an increase in aggression for about fifteen minutes after playing the game, no different than what a person would experience attending a sporting event. Thompson puts on a good show for the crowd but it is all fake and no one ever points that out except on the internet at websites where the readers know it already.

    On the other hand I am glad to see someone point out that Thompson stands to make a profit from his crusade should a miracle happen and it actually goes somewhere. Also Thompson claims he is being persecuted for his Christian faith and I am glad that someone tried to point out how absurd that is. While I am not a Christian myself I think Thompson does a real disservice to the people in this country who are Christian by making this claim.

    Overall though I would never be wholly satisfied with any debate at a Video Game Expo or event because for the most part the people there already know that video games pose no real threat to anyone. Thompson and his ilk need to be debated on national television with a decent moderator who will make sure that everyone gets time to speak.

    It may be hard to hate Thompson when he behaves well but I have to keep in mind that he only behaves well when it suits him. Otherwise he is flat out hateful and cruel to people he considers to be beneath him. (i.e. anyone involved in the game industry including consumers). I still haven’t forgotten how nasty he really was to GamerDad when he had a heart attack and I will never forget reading the email he sent to my friend instructing him to “buy a suicide game and get real good at it”. Thompson doesn’t get to behave on way when no one is looking and another when they are and have those to cancel each other out. If anything the fact that can behave well at public events only goes to show that he knows the way he behaves here and in his emails is totally unacceptable and fairly reprehensible. Knowing that his behavior here is wrong and doing it anyway only makes that behavior worse.

    Ok. End of rant. Sorry to bore everyone, but I just couldn’t help it. :)

  46. 0
    Walker T says:

    The fact that JT behaves like a complete tool when he’s posting here is enough to prove the kind of person that he really is. Being able to restrain yourself when it actually matters is a skill, but watch the things he says through the comment line and it’d be easy to confuse him with a junior high counter-strike enthusiast convinced that he is in fact ‘leet’.

    He can blow as much smoke as he wants, but with the lack of good solid proof, after his disbarment he’ll only be remembered as all moo and no stampede.

  47. 0
    Pierre-Olivier ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I wasn’t here, mainly because I couldn’t (I live in Canada). I admit I would have loved to hear how Jack would answer to many of the counterpoints. From your description, he seemed to be quite evasive on the issue and tried constantly to drown the fish. Same ol’ Jack. At least, he behaved himself.

    Yes, I agree on your last. It’s one of the darkest side of religion. But it’s in the human nature that we want others to be like us to not feel alone. Some learned to accept that there are different peoples, some didn’t. My family are huge Harry Potter fans (some christians called it satanic) and we are mostly christians in my family. We simply learned to be less rigid in our principles.

    P.S. Sorry if some sentences looks awkward to read. I’m not english native.

  48. 0
    Berg ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “He asks about Jack’s comments in the film about the differences in violence in art or video games.
    Jack says, ‘I draw a distinction between Beowulf and Grand Theft Auto.’
    Lorne says, ‘Yeah, I think the distinction is six-hundred million dollars.'”

    That was great, good to see that Lorne is at least quick with the little jabs.

    I think it’s hard to hate Jack when he acts maturely, even if I disagree with him.
    If he really believes that he’s right, and games make people killers, then at least he’s trying to do something about it.
    Good for him for having a sense of humour and acting civilly.

  49. 0
    Black Manta ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with Dennis on this one. I was there at the debate, along with my girlfriend, sitting right behind Dennis (I was the bald, big, mean-looking guy in the black leather jacket). I think Lorne Lanning did an excellent job. He certainly did more to shoot Jack’s arguments full of holes than, well, anyone else I’ve seen. Yes, he did go off on tangents when it came to the environment and such, but it wasn’t often. He argued from a frame of reference he was familiar with. It may not have been 100% pertinent to what Jack does, but I could see the point he was trying to make.

    I have to stress, this was a debate as I have known it to be in the traditional sense. It seems most of you here want less of a debate and more to have someone just verbally attack Jack. Well I’m sorry, you’re going to have to wait and look elsewhere. N’Gai acquitted himself remarkably well as moderator, especially considering the titanic ego of Jack’s that he had to deal with. Lorne made what I thought was an excellent case for Jack’s being in it for the money despite his protestations otherwise. Jack doesn’t go after the gun industry or the movie industry (despite his mentioning The Basketball Diaries) because as Lorne said, they’re too powerful and too well-entrenched.

    Do I wish there would have been more calls on Jack’s bullshit? Of course I do. But there was enough to satisfy me at least. I rolled my eyes when I heard him trot out his agument of judging art by the Greek standard, and when he said he had no intention of telling people what art is, I softly coughed “bullshit!” But I thought as many points were addressed as time and the questions would allow. In the end, I have to say Lorne handily won that debate no matter how Jack will try to spin it.

    And Jack, just in response to what you said – and this is something I also told to Dennis later – about your perception of being persecuted because of your faith. It’s not your faith that you’re being persecuted for. No one has a problem per se with your being a Christian. The problem comes in when you use your faith to shove it down other’s throats, which is what in effect you are doing. This is the problem I have, and what many people have, with Christians of your stripe. And it’s also why I abandoned the Christian religion as I found it to be too restrictive, too intolerant, and inconsistent with the world as I was experiencing it. Organizations like Young Life and Campus Crusade for Christ were saying things like love your neighbor while at the same time hate the gays. Also they said don’t have sex before marriage, don’t have an abortion if you get pregnant, don’t celebrate Halloween because it’s evil, don’t listen to Heavy Metal music, play Dungeons & Dragons or watch Science Fiction or Horror films because they’re Satanic. No one likes being told what to do, even if what they’re doing is bad for them. If I want to have sex with someone I’m not married to or watch a violent movie, well that’s my choice. I don’t think I’m going to go to Hell for that. As it is, I’ve gone 180 degrees in the other direction and haven’t looked back. My girlfriend and I go to strip clubs together and we have friends who are strippers and pornographers and a few who are Pagans. I’m a fornicator and a blasphemer according to you, but I’m unrepentant. I like how I am now. It’s more honest with who I am and I don’t feel like a hypocrite. Shocked? Sorry, I’m not changing my lifestyle for anyone. I am who I am. As you so have been known to say, “Deal with it.”

    What you fail to understand is that this country was founded on the principle of people to live their lives as they see fit so long as it doesn’t harm others, and there’s still no conclusive proof that violent video games are harmful regardless of what you say. I like my porn, I like my violent entertainment. If you think I’m going to Hell, well that’s what you think. I no longer believe that. If being a Christian and your faith is what gets you through the day, then that’s fine. Go you. Just don’t go imposing your values on me, which is what you’re doing. Be a true Christian and live and let live.

  50. 0
    The Ninth Doctor says:

    wait… Ancient Greeks? Which Ancient Greeks? Like Aristotle? Games most certainly DO fit his definition of art, basically that which provides a Cathartic experience.

    Maybe they don’t fit Plato’s, but Aristotle, not Plato, is the foundation of Western Philosophy.

  51. 0
    Juggernautz ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yeah Lorne didn’t do too badly but as stated here by… well, pretty much everyone, but he had so many points he could have slammed Thompson on. I wish N’gai had asked a question about professional conduct and then Lanning formed rebuttal with one of the dozens of ad hominem insults and attacks he’s posted on this site and in court.

    Meh, whatever. I still believe that Lanning’s points were much better made, plus he had statistics and proof behind him. The fact that Jack can turn on the charm when he has to makes me realise exactly how he has got to the level of infamy he has today. And that makes me despise what he does all the more.

    I would love to debate Jack Thompson. A) I’m in the industry, my viewpoint is valid. B) I can counter every last one of JT’s points, I’ve heard them all before… about a billion times. C) I have done a LOT of research on the subject, conversed with most of the critics that have headlined GP. D) My voice is way louder than Thompson’s, he wouldn’t be able to speak over me. :)

    How bout it Thompson, after your career is demolished come to Australia and debate someone else? Maybe you can save face.

    Or not.

  52. 0
    Matthew ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Sadly, debates like this are often doomed. Thompson’s a fraud and a liar, but his *job* revolves around saying the right thing and winning over the crowd. He rolls for CHR. Lanning knows his onions but his job revolves around making onions. He rolls for INT. Put the two together in a public forum and, even though Lanning has the house advantage, Thompson is going to score some points.

  53. 0
    Terminator44 says:

    I have to agree on GP’s comments on Lorne regarding being OT. Was he even informed on what the debate was about before he arrived? From his non-sequitirs, I really have my doubts.

    As BaronJuJu said, this is potential gone to waste. There were plenty of other people from Moral Kombat they could have gotten. Why not Henry Jenkins and/or Dave Grossman? Why not Jason Della Rocca and/or David Walsh? I think we need to get to others in the debate other than JT. He’s just sang the same tune we’ve heard before, and he doesn’t get matched up by anyone prepared to rebuke it.

  54. 0
    HollywoodBob says:

    I really hate that Thompson was even invited, the guy’s an ignorant jack ass, who’s out of touch with reality. His arguments are so ridiculous that anyone with any game knowledge can see right through his rhetoric. I can understand why he’s invited on crap talk shows, and bullshit channels like Fox News, they and their viewers are just as ignorant as he is, and all they’re really interested in is sensationalizing tragedy for ratings. But when the industry gives him a venue to spew his bullshit it just completely leaves me aghast. You’d think that the people behind VGXPO would be intelligent enough to find someone with real knowledge to take the con position in a debate about games. Personally, I’m sick of his quixotic activities, and really think it’s time that the entire games industry just ignores him, full stop.

  55. 0
    Valoharth says:

    Okay so I um… only majored in Drama, Theater if you will, and I really jump for joy when I see Jack make the comment that video games isn’t art because it isn’t what the greeks stated as art.

    Yes lets talk about the Greeks and their art for a second, The Greeks had this little play called Edipis (sp?) which the main character ends up killing his Father quite brutialy and ends up marrying his mom… yea really artistic…

    Also another thing in Greek art was the whole Bakki festivle, which partisapated in big orgys and lets not forget the whole Dionysia festival where they sacraficed people put on a play then had an orgy afterwards… Man those were the good days.

    Yea next time you say something Jack think about it, the whole art part of video games is the fact that its a form storytelling, and if I remember right oh yes that is what the greek concidered art! So pull you head out of your… no no, I won’t go there Jack, I will say this though if your going to say something in public and present it as fact just stop and think if what your saying is actual fact and not your opinion!

  56. 0
    BaronJuJu ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I have to agree with WFren, after reading the joystiq article, I would have been rather upset at sitting through a “debate” where it mostly appeared to be jibes being thrown back and forth and no questions were really answered.

    What was the real point of the debate? One is a man (JT) who can hardly keep track of the lies he rants on. As we have all seen time and again, even in this debate, he clings only to the truths he invented and spreads.

    Lanning on the other hand seemed bored at being there, from the way I read it.

    If they are going to have a debate again, get some real experts on the subject matter. Not an massacre chaser and a developer who runs off on tangents.

    If it was merely because both were in a movie, why not have just made it a Q&A session for the audience to discuss the film?

    Overall, this brought nothing new to the table on gaming issues, it could have been a great opportunity.

    A shame.

    Just my two cents.

  57. 0
    Yuki says:

    Why is it that whenever jack debates the person he debates can’t seem to be bothered to do any research as to Thompsons history or failure,lies, and BULLSHIT!

    Lanning dropped out of the games development area recently. Apparently his fallout with microsoft over the xbox title he made caused him to pull out of the development area. I mean, lets face, what was the last game you heard of from Lanning? Anyway, that being said, lanning made so good points, but came of as being completely unprepared for the debate.

    I would have rather had Dennis up there, or Jenkins personally. Also good would have been Dave jaffe or Cliffy b.

    Heck, Gabe and tycho would have been good to, having been directly on the end of jacks wrath.

    Lanning was a gifted developer in his day but he wasn’t the best choice for this debate.

  58. 0
    DarkTetsuya ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    And as to GP’s interaction with Thompson?

    There wasn’t any. I didn’t approach him and he didn’t approach me.

    All bark and no bite, just as we all suspected. Lanning did have a few good quotes though.

  59. 0
    WFern ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’m frankly a little sick of these “debates,” since neither party really knows what they’re talking about at times.

    Henry Jenkins and Leeland Yee, for example, would be worthy of consideration. Instead we have an attorney, close to being disbarred, who fabricates claims and distorts fact against a developer who doesn’t know the history of case law to dispute it.

    I admire Lorne Lanning for his art and creativity, but it was an inappropriate choice for such a debate, as was Thompson.

  60. 0
    Seamus L says:


    Beautiful! I’m pretty convinced that Jack Thompson is one of us. He’s the most well known anti video game acitivist out there, and he seems to be TRYING to debunk any anti-game arguments, and make people hate his kind as well. He’s got to be a double agent. Keep at it, Jack!

  61. 0
    DCOW ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I just looked at the Joystiq coverage, and found the paragraph that covers it best.

    “N’Gai asks the audience to raise their hands if they’ve played a GTA game. The entire audience raises their hands. He says to keep your hand raised if you think the primary goal of a GTA game is to “kill as many cops as you can,” which Jack had just claimed. No hands. Jack retorts, “What about prostitutes?” Again, no hands.”

  62. 0
    kurisu7885 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Regardless,Thompson pretty much got owned here, though he’ll never admit it.

    A little something I noticed here. As I remember it, Thompson also got an offer for PAX, and as we all know he wouldn’t keep quiet and so it was canceled, this he was allowed to talk about all he wanted and managed to get to go.

  63. 0
    Gray17 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @pen gun

    Yeah, he’s actually a two faced bastard, not a one faced one. The odd thing is that you’d expect him to put on the face he shows in the debate on in court as well, but he apparently puts on the face he puts on here. Maybe his self restraint only kicks in when a crowd is watching?

  64. 0
    Austin from Oregon ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Father Time
    I suppose you’re right. I can see how personal conflicts would interfere with organized debate. Perhaps it’d be interesting to see Mr. Thompson debate someone like me. Someone without statistics etc. but instead someone with personal experience as well as being in an age bracket that has grown up under seventeen as game ratings moved up. I believe we could explore more issues about games in a case-by-case viewpoint rather than having each side blare out generalizations and statistics.

    Hmm, the art discussion I’m not really into, but I do agree that art has evolved.
    Jazz music was once thought satanic by some people. These things just take time, and some of us accept them earlier than others, however, everyone is entitled to an opinion. I personally don’t care for rap music or manhunt, however I do admire the skills to took many people to make them.

    I’d like to address Mr. Thompson, I really hope that you’ve noticed the large amount of actual positive responce your well done debate has created. Not that you need listen to me as an opponent of your stance, but I would encourage you to continue to speak to opponents (in person as well as online) in the same matter as you handled your debate. It makes your arguments much more convincing and worthwhile. So kudos for now.

  65. 0
    jack thompson, attorney ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Thanks to all who attended what was more discussion than debate. I can’t tell who wrote the above piece, but whoever it was was surely welcome to come up and introduce himself. I was only able to speak briefly with folks after the long discussion, because I had to go do a Spike TV interview, which was prearranged.

    I encourage people to see the movie. It’s amazing.

    As to Lorne’s allegations that I’m in this fight for the money–that was one of the funniest lines of the afternoon. It didn’t sit well with the audience.

    Thank you for what is a fairly accurate reportage of what happened.

    Jack Thompson

    GP: Oh, I think you know who wrote the above piece.

  66. 0
    Awol ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Man that debate was good. Yes Jack acts totally different in person than he does here. The one thing I found funny is the number of times Jack zings himself in the debate. Make you wonder if this is part of some plan he has. Overall I thought Lanning won it but Dennis is right he did missed some points and went off track on some of the questions. I will be writing my review of the debate in the next few days after I get home and a chance to relax and review my notes.

  67. 0
    That_1_Guy says:

    You have to wonder if Thompson chooses the people he debates. Mabye that’s why that whenever we have a videogame debate with Thompson we almost always get the guy who’s poorly prepared.

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