Game Eaters

Friday, March 25, 2005

Jack Thompson.

I was trying to think of a more clever title for this entry, but nothing came to mind. Merely the name Jack Thompson should fill gamers' hearts with disgust. I was naive to think that perhaps because the Jeff Weise shootings (no relation!) didn't involve any reference to videogames whatsoever that would prevent idiots like Thompson from spinning their bullshit. But no. Apparently, this kid made some violent flash movies a while before he went on his killing spree. And, of course, like a fly on shit, Thompson is claiming the movies were modeled after Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt (surprise, surprise... does Thompson know any other violent games?)

I spoke to Jack Thompson once. It was scary. It was like talking to Hannibal Lecter on the phone. I called him out of the blue when I was a student at MIT. I'd read some crap of his where he claimed that adolenscents brains were "underdeveloped" and not able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality... hence they don't deserve to be treated like sentient beings with, you know, the ability to make decisions and stuff. He'd cited a Harvard study, but didn't give any details. So I called the phone number on his website. I wasn't sure if he'd answer at first, but eventually he did pick up.

His voice was... creepy. Maybe he gets lots of calls from gamers who scream at him and tell him what a dick he is. He sounded very tentative, like he wasn't sure why I was calling. Like he wasn't sure if I was on of "them." His tone of voice gave the impression of a guy sitting in his office with a loaded gun looking out the window. I didn't want him hanging up on me, so I played the student card. I explained how I was at MIT doing research on videogames (although I didn't mention Henry Jenkins) and that I wanted to know what the full citations were for the studies he cites, complaining, gently, that there didn't seem to be any references on his website. I remember him getting slightly defensive and explaining that his website wasn't meant to be taken as a hardcore research document. He said he did have citations for all the research he mentioned, he just hadn't posted them online... where people could, you know, read them. He told me the department where the Harvard study took place, and I thanked him and hung up. I felt weird. Cold, sort of.


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