Jack Thompson Puts Best Foot Forward at SGC09 Debate

July 6, 2009 -

By all accounts, the Independence Day debate between Jack Thompson and gamer/lawyer Mark Methenitis was a froth-free success. Thompson, who can be a charmer when he cares to, appears to have impressed the SGC09 audience with a respectful demeanor and self-effacing humor.

Of course, expo attendees sampled but a small slice of the disbarred attorney's act. Naturally, he didn't compare any of them to Saddam Hussein and didn't report them to various law enforcement agencies. Tactfully, Thompson also avoided dredging up any of the various negative generalizations he has made about gamers over the years, such as our personal favorite, "Nobody shoots anybody in the face unless you're a hit man or a video gamer."

We are still hoping to see full-length video of the debate and a subsequent Q&A session, but have been tracking some of the early reactions by attendees. Destructoid's Jim Sterling live-blogged the debate:

After seeing JT's unvetted Q&A earlier, I don't think this'll be the trainwreck people are expecting. Thompson was level-headed and well-behaved earlier...

JT... calls GamePolitics his favorite videogame site. [GP: LOL]

"We are getting to the point where we will understand that adult-rated games are just as harmful as seeing two naked people have intercourse"... "I'm the pro liberty, pro personal choice guy here..."

[JT said] that he got disbarred because he went on 60 Minutes but he'd do it all again.

The normally cynical Sterling, who appears to have sipped liberally from Thompson's Kool Aid, was even more complimentary toward the disbarred attorney in his coverage of the SGC09 Q&A session:

I think Jack Thompson did an amazing job yesterday. I don't agree with all his views, and I certainly disagree with the way he's put them across over the years. I think everyone who watched him yesterday will agree, however, that if he continues the rest of his crusade in the polite and intelligent manner with which he carried himself at SGC, he really wouldn't be such a bad guy to have around.

Overly Positive offers its impressions of the debate:

It seems the audience left the presentation and Q&A with at least a small amount of respect for Jack Thompson, not just for making his points in a rational manner, but for showing up at all. It seems that even if this is to some cynics a desperate grab for relevance, that Thompson honestly believes that presenting his side of the video games violence debate is worthwhile.

SCG09 attendee Sean Hinz also live-blogged the debate.

GP: I caught Thompson's debate performance at VGXPO 07. He is, as described by various SGC09 attendees, an engaging speaker. If he behaved that way all of the time he would almost certainly still have his law license and might still be an effective advocate for his cause.

UPDATE: More in the vein of the Miami Jack we remember here at GP, Thompson e-mailed his reaction to our coverage:

Dennis, pay attention, you might learn something:
 
1.  The comment about GP being my favorite game site was a joke, and everyone knew it.  That's why the laughter.  Not a lot of folks there care for you or GP.  
 
2.  I got about a 60-second standing ovation after the Q & A.  Did you talk to Craig, who is the head of ScrewAttack, about his impression of me? [GP: we did send Craig an e-mail inquiry this morning; no response so far]
 
3.  I don't need advice from you about how to be effective. I'm the guy making a difference not you, and it bugs the Hell out of you.

90 comments

Jack Thompson Debate Back On at SGC09

July 1, 2009 -

The on-again, off-again July 4th debate between disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson and gamer/attorney Mark Methenitis is apparently back on.

The debate, planned for this weekend's SGC09 in Dallas, went off the rails rather suddenly yesterday morning when Thompson complained to event host Screw Attack (and cc'd GamePolitics) that:

  • he objected to a one- or two-line introduction ("I have never been introduced with 1 or 2 sentences.  Nobody can be introduced in that fashion...")
  • he objected to a user-created parody video posted (and since removed) on the Screw Attack site; Thompson may have believed the video, "Questions Not to Ask Jack Thompson" at SGC," was official Screw Attack content

After posting a story detailing Thompson's assertion that he was canceling his appearance, GamePolitics rather unexpectedly found itself in the middle of a day-long flurry of e-mails between Screw Attack personnel and Thompson. Event organizers were clearly seeking to assuage Thompson's concerns and salvage the debate. By late Tuesday afternoon, it appeared that Thompson, who is apparently under contract and being paid $2,000 for his appearance, was softening his position after receiving assurances from Screw Attack Program Director Craig Skistimas.

As recently as this morning, however, Thompson demanded that a post by a Screw Attack user be removed. While it was not taken down, the author, who was also behind the parody video that Thompson found offensive, e-mailed the disbarred attorney a lengthy apology; that seemed to satisfy Thompson.

Next, Thompson e-mailed Skistimas a "proposed text" to be used as his introduction at the debate. The 12-sentence intro mentioned his 2008 lifetime disbarment very briefly, referring to it as "illegal" and blaming the loss of his law license on "lawyers for Take-Two, the makers of the Grand Theft Auto games."

GP asked Skistimas whether the introduction would actually be used at SGC09. Skistimas told us, "I have yet to review his intro but Jack and I will work together to find an intro that fits both his needs and the time format of the debate at SGC."

A conference call between Thompson and the Screw Attack team planned for noon today was canceled when the parties decided in late morning that the debate was back on and Thompson was satisified.

Skistimas also said that the site would release a video tomorrow to reinforce the fact that Thompson will appear at SGC09.

123 comments

Jack Thompson Says He Won't Appear for July 4th Debate at SGC 09

June 30, 2009 -

It appears that a much-anticipated Independence Day debate between Jack Thompson and gamer/lawyer Mark Methenitis is off. (GP: however, see updates below)

Back in April Mark Methenitis announced that he would debate Thompson on July 4th at the ScrewAttack Gaming Convention in Dallas. In fact, Methenitis posted a reminder about the debate just yesterday on his excellent Law of the Game blog.

But an angry e-mail received a short time ago from Thompson indicates that he will not appear. The disbarred attorney was apparently upset by an event organizer's request for a two-line bio as well as a parody video (screen shot at left) posted on the Screw Attack website by a user. Here's a just-received e-mail from Thompson to Methenitis:

Mark, the goofs at ScrewAttack have managed to sabotage my debate with you this Saturday... Don't blame me.  I wanted to do  the debate. I would have used the $2000 to help me in bringing down The Florida Bar...

Here's a second e-mail from Thompson to a number of individuals at ScrewAttack:

Yesterday, I get an email... that I either I submit a "1 or 2 sentence" introduction of myself, or I won't be introduced.  I have spoken and debated on more than 200 college campuses, and I have never been introduced with 1 or 2 sentences.  Nobody can be introduced in that fashion...
 
Finally, I went to your site this morning and I have viewed [a since removed] idiotic [video] clip...  It is a gross misrepresentation... you know full well that the reason I wanted to do this event... [is] to debate the issues of violence in video games... 
 
Finally, how many references to me as a "butt" did you think you had to put into your adolescent video?  You even take a swipe at Christians in the video...
 
All you have managed to do, as related above, is make the event an impossibility.  I expected the event to feature some hostiility [sic]. What I did not expect was that the people putting it on would ratchet it up and in doing so create a security problem...

GamePolitics has a request in to Screw Attack for more information and to see whether, from their perspective, the debate and a planned open forum with Thompson are salvageable. Methenitis is hoping that the event will go forward but referred us to Screw Attack for specifics.

GP: If the SGC 09 debate is canceled, it will not the first time that a proposed debate involving Thompson and the video game crowd has ended in bitterness. See our coverage of similar events proposed for PAX 07 and GDC 08. Thompson did, however, complete a debate with game designer Lorne Lanning at VGXPO 07 in Philadelphia.

That said, it's rather difficult to believe that the debate would be lost over the length of an introduction. As for the Screw Attack user-created video, let's just call it ill-advised and unfunny.

UPDATE: Thompson has confirmed to GamePolitics that he is under contract to appear. An e-mail from Thompson to Methenitis, cc'd to GP, indicates that the debate may yet be salvageable.

UPDATE 2: Thompson has forwarded a copy of a conciliatory e-mail from Screw Attack which describes the video in question as user-created content; it has apparently been removed. Thompson, however, continues to make demands of the event organizers:

This thing will start to get back on track if the person in charge... makes a very prominent and public statement at ScrewAttack.com and to the media (yes, that even includes GamePolitics, which is run as if it were Strauss Zelnick's house organ) [GP: LOL] stating that ScrewAttack disavows that video, that ScrewAttack KNOWS that the reason Jack Thompson is taking a day out of his life and away from his family is that he cares about the ISSUES in this debate, and that anybody, ANYBODY, who says or does anything out of line at this event will be escorted from the event immediately...

UPDATE 3: Stop the presses! The debate is not canceled, at least not yet. Thompson and the Screw Attack crew have scheduled a conference call for tomorrow to - hopefully - sort out their issues.

105 comments

Coverage of Last Night's Jack Thompson - Gerard Jones Debate

April 3, 2009 -

A reported audience of 200 Bridgewater College students attended last night's video game debate between Jack Thompson and author Gerard Jones. 

So far we have found two local news reports of the showdown.

WHSV-3 offers this account:

Thompson believes that content should be regulated more efficiently, especially toward kids, pointing out the violent aspects of the popular game series "Grand Theft Auto." He says, "The problem is mature and adult video games that are very violent, increasingly pornographic, that are still being sold aggressively to young people. Kids literally process these games in the part of the brain that leads to copy-cat violence."

Jones, however, urged people to view video games in the same ways as movies and television, and hoped gamers would be more open to explain why they love to play. He says, "We hear a lot about the fear of what they might do, what might go wrong, but we hear so little about how these games are obviously fitting in to a sane, healthy life for a lot of normal people."

Meanwhile, Rocktown Weekly has this:

Jack Thompson... says that unlike other media, video games have been shown to affect neurological development in adolescents.

Thompson... says violent games desensitize youths and can train them to carry out massacres in real life, particularly if they have violent or sociopathic tendencies...

 

Thompson pointed out that the military uses video games to train new troops and desensitize them, making them more likely to shoot when it counts. [GP: According to John Stossel of ABC News, this is a self-perpetuating myth*]...

But Jones counters that violence existed in society long before video games came along.

For example, Jones said the gunman in a 1970s school shooting told authorities he was inspired by "Patton," a biographical movie about World War II Gen. George Patton.

"I cannot see our culture, our laws, our entertainment industry trying to adjust to" what mentally ill people might do, Jones said.

Thompson... advocates greater government control over the video game industry, especially in legislation that makes it a crime to sell video games rated "mature" to minors.
 

* Stossel tracked down the origin of the military's supposed use of violent games to desensitize recruits in his 2006 book Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity.

86 comments

Law of the Game's Mark Methenitis to Debate Jack Thompson

April 2, 2009 -

What are the odds of having two Jack Thompson debate stories in a single day?

That's how today, played out, though.

Just after GamePolitics posted about tonight's Thompson-Gerard Jones debate, Law of the Game blogger - and practicing attorney - Mark Methenitis e-mailed to say that he will be debating Thompson at SGC 09 on July 4th. Mark believes that he is the first attorney to debate Thompson on video game issues.

The Screw Attack website adds that there will be more just the Thompson-Methenitis ten-rounder:

In addition to the debate, Thompson will also participate in a special pre-screened question and answer panel where attendees will have the opportunity to pick the brain of one of gaming’s most notorious critics.

16 comments

Jack Thompson Debates Game Violence with Author Tonight

April 2, 2009 -

Fresh off his apparently failed attempt to legislate video game sales in Utah, disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson will debate the video game violence issue tonight with Gerard Jones, author of Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes and Make-Believe Violence.

The debate, which will take place at 7:30 on the campus of Bridgewater College in northwestern Virginia, is free and open to the public. It is unknown whether there will be any local coverage.

GP: Thompson and Jones previously debated in 2007 at a college in Pennsylvania. That debate was marred by a student who behaved rather badly toward Thompson. Such behavior only serves to reinforce negative stereotypes about gamers.

70 comments

 
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Andrew EisenYes, the Wii U upscales but rendering in a higher resolution looks a hell of a lot better.08/01/2014 - 10:35pm
Andrew EisenIt's pretty. Lots of videos of it floating around. Just search "Xenoblade dolphin" and you'll find them.08/01/2014 - 10:32pm
ZippyDSMleeThe WII upscales tho. Matthew: It might be becue cartoonish desings do not age as fast as presudo realisim.08/01/2014 - 10:29pm
Matthew WilsonPeople who have run the Mario Galaxy games on a emulator have said they look better then most xb1/ps4 games when upscaled, so it would be interesting to see a upscaled version of Xenoblade08/01/2014 - 9:24pm
Andrew EisenHeck, it would probably sell better to newbies anyway. Even with its awesome art direction, the game looked dated when it came out years ago. I imagine an SD version would be a tougher sell.08/01/2014 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenBecause it would be cool, would serve the game's fantastic art direction well and encourage people who've already played it to buy it again.08/01/2014 - 7:42pm
ZippyDSMleeWhy bother with an HD relese just repack the damn thing and promote it since it will play on the WIIU anyway....08/01/2014 - 7:04pm
Andrew EisenPlus, with Nintendo carrying the Wii U almost all by itself, it could help plug one of the unfortunately inevitable release schedule gaps.08/01/2014 - 3:23pm
Andrew EisenAn HD re-release would be cool though. It's a great game (and quite the looker, especially when up-rezzed) and more people should play it (the game had a limited release at a time when the Wii was all but dead an buried).08/01/2014 - 3:21pm
E. Zachary KnightSo no, people are not going to need to play the Wii game to undstand or enjoy the Wii U game.08/01/2014 - 1:27pm
E. Zachary KnightFrom what I understand, the two games have as much to do with eachother as Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy 2.08/01/2014 - 1:26pm
MaskedPixelanteIt's my secret hope that Nintendo announces Xenoblade HD to be released in the leadup to Xenoblade Chronicles X, or at least a mass market version of the first game so that people aren't going into this one blind.08/01/2014 - 12:40pm
PHX CorpI'm going to do a test stream later today, if anyone is intrested07/31/2014 - 2:40pm
Andrew EisenYes, I'm such a big Nintendo dork that I read Nintendo's quarterly financial reports.07/31/2014 - 2:09pm
Andrew EisenCool tidbit - Mario Kart 8 sales account for more than half of total Wii U software sales for the last quarter even though it was only available for the last third.07/31/2014 - 2:09pm
Andrew EisenStill a pretty cool promotion. Unfortunately for me, I'm not interested in purchasing Mario Kart 8 and I already owned or didn't want any of the free games on offer.07/31/2014 - 1:43pm
Andrew EisenInteresting that EU had 10 games to choose from while North America only had four.07/31/2014 - 1:41pm
MaskedPixelanteIt certainly worked, I probably would never have bought Mario Kart 8 if it didn't come with a free copy of Wind Waker HD.07/31/2014 - 1:14pm
Andrew EisenI imagine will see similar promotions like "Buy Mario Kart 8 get a download code for one of these specific games" but almost certainly not for all of its (however you would define) biggest releases.07/31/2014 - 11:24am
MaskedPixelanteI wonder if Nintendo is going to be doing "buy one get one free" promos for all their biggest releases going forward.07/31/2014 - 10:48am
 

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