Jack Thompson’s GDC Debate Prospects Not Looking Good

Jack Thompson at the Game Developers Conference?

The Earth might spin off its axis…

But, fresh off of Saturday’s appearance in Philadelphia, the controversial attorney claims that he has been invited to reprise his VGXPO debate at GDC, which takes place in February in San Jose.

The news comes from a motion filed by Thompson with the U.S. District Court in Florida, where the anti-game activist is suing the Florida Bar. While the document itself is little more than a legal maneuver, the following text caught GP’s eye:

This past Saturday I journeyed to the Pennsylvania Convention Center and debated Lorne Lanning, an iconic figure in the video game industry, on the very issues that spawned the Blank Rome/Take-Two SLAPP Bar complaints against me. You can read all about the debate at http://www.gamepolitics.com/.

It appears I did very well, despite heavy security insisted upon by the event, not by me. I was invited, they said, into the “lions’ den.”

In the audience [for] this event, unbeknownst to me, was the man who organizes the largest video game gathering in the world, the Game Developers Conference (GDC), attended by 20,000 folks…

Because of the quality and coherence of my presentation, I was then asked by the GDC to reprise the Philadelphia debate, this time in February in San Francisco in a 5000 seat arena, as the keynote event.

GP: We haven’t verified this with anyone connected with GDC as of yet, but we’re working on it. Read Thompson’s court filing here.

UPDATE: Contrary to what is written in Thompson’s court filing, “the man who organizes” GDC, director Jamil Moledina, was not in attendance at VGXPO. Thompson is apparently referring to noted video game composer Tommy Tallarico, who is on the main advisory board of GDC. Tallarico was in attendance at VGXPO, but told GP he did not discuss the debate idea with Thompson personally (see below).

UPDATE 2: GP has just received this statement from the GDC’s press representative:

“The Game Developers Conference has not extended an invitation to Jack Thompson to speak at GDC 2008,” Jamil Moledina, executive director, Game Developers Conference, said.  “We look forward to announcing the full speaker lineup closer to the show.”

UPDATE 3: GP has just spoken with Tommy Tallarico about this confusing situation. Tommy, who has attended VGXPO for several years, said that he introduced himself to Jack Thompson before Saturday’s debate.

After the [Moral Kombat] movie, I walked up to Jack Thompson and introduced myself… when I started talking to him, honestly, he was quite charming, it was a nice conversation…

After the debate Tallarico had dinner with Lorne Lanning and Spencer Halpin. They discussed the possibility of having a similar debate involving Thompson at GDC. Spencer Halpin’s wife, an organizer of VGXPO, broached the possibility of a debate with Thompson by phone and Thompson expressed interest. Tallarico said that he never personally spoke to Thompson about the debate idea. He told GP that he planned to put the idea before the GDC board for consideration:

I was literally writing the e-mail to the advisory board when I got the call… [saying] go to GamePolitics… [where the story had already broken]…

GP: It is, perhaps, unfortunate, but given today’s controversy it looks like any potential debate involving Thompson and GDC is a dead issue.

UPDATE 4: Thompson has posted a letter to GDC director Jamil Moledina which reads:

Since this is how the video game industry treats its critics, no wonder it has a public relations problem with parents. This is an industry that lies about the ratings on its products, sells those products to underage kids behind their parents’ backs, and then wants nothing but an incestuous gathering in San Francisco to congratulate itself on how smart it is.

Federal regulation of your industry is coming because you folks simply can’t figure out why parents don’t trust you. Fine. When the regulation comes, and it will, don’t blame me.

GP: In the end, one has to wonder exactly what Thompson hoped to accomplish here. Had the deal been finalized, the GDC event could have been fascinating for attendees and beneficial to Thompson in an image sense. Very little, if anything, was to be gained by adding the prospect of a GDC appearance to the U.S. District Court record, which publicly exposed it to media scrutiny.

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