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06/23/2005

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RegularX

I call Jack Thompson insane simply because he is ... I'm not demeaning his intelligence, one doesn't have to go any farther than Jack's own words. Comparing Lowenstein as being worse than Hussein? Stating that kids get cranial menus? Insisting that Playstations are generating a wave of manchurian children? I'd love to be making this stuff up.

I don't mock the guy. I take him more seriously than the people who interview him. The difference is that I'm not using Jack for his sound bites, I just point out that what's he saying doesn't agree with reality.

These people should be taken to task, and they should be done so in a public way. We shouldn't be whitewashing or putting on the soft gloves. CNN's interest here is to make interesting shows that sound sensational, even if that means ignoring the occasional fact here and there. They are out for ratings and in the process there's a whole side to this being ignored.

I mean, all due respect Mike, but what is your point here? Everyone is dumb? Take a stand and make a statement. Gabe and Tycho got it right? They blow it completely out of proportion for comic effect. Funny, yes. Accurate, no.

Mike

Yes, I agree, they should be taken to task. I enjoy it most when people show Thompson's past legal failings and attacks on other mediums because it shows a history of erronous actions.

However, just calling him "crazy" really doesn't convince your average Joe who's on the fence on this issue.

Here's my point: no one's convincing anyone. People who play games aren't being convinced to not play games, and people who think games are bad for kids aren't being convinced that they aren't bad for kids. No one is making any progress. We're all shouting at each other without rhyme or reason.

And yes, I do think Gabe and Tycho got it right. Perhaps they did blow it out of proportion for comic effect, but they've basically covered the basis of how everyone views everyone else. We all view Thompson as some crazed loony, the scientists have unclear results, and the anti-game folks view the industry as trying to make a dollar off kids. And so far nothing we've done has effectively changed any of these perspectives. In that way, I believe Penny-Arcade was accurate. They made a political cartoon. Political cartoons often blow things out of proportion to make an accurate statement about current events.


The problem isn't that we shouldn't call Thompson nutso. The problem is that it brings us down to his level. When Thompson compares the game industry to Nazi Germany, it makes him look silly. But the way many of us in forums dismiss his argument, it makes us look like we're unwilling to face his viewpoint. That's my point.

RegularX

The problem is that Jack's viewpoint is way too skewed with reality to be argued logically. How do you argue someone who compares video games to murder simulators, video consoles to brainwashing machines, gamers as future killers and game industry leaders as mass murderers?

Seriously, I wish after I typed that I could look and say that I'm exaggerating even a single iota. But I'm not. The problem is the media taking Jack so seriously in the first place, not gamers making fun of him. Manchurian children? He deserves to be made fun of.

I'll repeat what I wrote after Jack's interview with Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes. When a grown man says that Sony installed a cranial menu on a teenager, the logical response isn't to just quietly take notes.

The logical response is, "I'm sorry ... did you just say cranial menus?"

What's sad is that there a far more moderate, far more logical, far more rational people on this issue. Take the psychotherapist on Nancy's show who tried to talk about both the effects on teenagers and the aspect of parent ... what did Nancy do?

She changed the topic


She's a journalist with millions of viewers. Most people frequenting game forum and blogs are gamers. That's the real problem.

bowler

"The problem isn't that we shouldn't call Thompson nutso. The problem is that it brings us down to his level. When Thompson compares the game industry to Nazi Germany, it makes him look silly. But the way many of us in forums dismiss his argument, it makes us look like we're unwilling to face his viewpoint. That's my point."

I have to disagree. I think anyone who uses Nazis, Pol Pot, or the Gulag to use as a comparison to anything happening in the modern era, be it politics or video-games lacks a certain perspective to be able to debate rationally.

They play the Nazi card, I don't even bother arguing. It's not worth the time. I'd just as soon head down to an asylum and argue with the inmates. It's that off-base of a comparison, unless we're actually talking about Nazis, the Gulag, or Pol Pot.

My apologies if you meant that in a more paraphrased sense than the literal, but I think the general point still stands.

Mike

Regular X, I completely agree. Gamers are often preaching to the choir (example, here

I disagree, Bowler. That's just the point we need rational argument in rebuttal. We need someone who does more than just counter saying that he's an idiot. Because while his claims seem wild and obviously stupid to gamers and those involved in the entertainment industry as a whole, the media is playing him as an expert. He's an expert attorney, according to Nancy Grace. And he's being given increasingly more air time to a public that does make voting and legal decisions based on traditional morality (you think the recent U.S. presidential election was won on the war?).

Therefore we need someone who can do more than just shout louder than Thompson or call him silly. We need someone who is willing to go to-to-toe with him and rationally point out statistical data that makes him and his argument seem as foolish as they really are.

Yes, his name-calling is absurd. I absolutely agree. But this isn't a high-school playground, and we can't just ignore him until he goes away. Thompson has made it a point that he's not going away. And the more we try to ignore him or dismiss him because of his claims, the more it seems to the public like we're unwilling to really engage him in the debate.

I do agree, though, about the Nancy Grace part. The pro-gamer arguments were sound and were cut off extremely quickly. Gamers and the game industry have an uphill battle ahead of them in terms of identifying as more of a form of artistic expression.

I mean, it still pisses me off that the New York Times features game reviews in the Thursday Technology section rather than the Arts & Entertainment section. Obviously, we have a ways to go before games are thought of as legitimate means of expression.

But just because it's an uphill battle or because the obstacles in the way may be loud-mouthed hyperbole fiends doesn't mean it's not a battle worth fighting. Even if, as you say, Bowler, he's not worth debating, Thompson's views are certainly worth taking to task. Even if he's saying games are Johnny Mnemonic esque Nazi programmers, we still shouldn't let him be the only voice that reaches the public.

I just believe we must find a way to argue his view that neither preaches to the choir nor sounds like we're simply demeaning the other side, as gamers often do in reaction.

bowler

And the more we try to ignore him or dismiss him because of his claims, the more it seems to the public like we're unwilling to really engage him in the debate.

Yeah, sorry, I guess I wasn't clear. I'm not saying ignore him 'till he goes away (although upon re-reading my post it does seem to read that way), I'm saying that someone needs to in a debate challenge him to remove the terms "Nazi, Manchurian, etc." from his dictionary, because they're not accurate descriptors of what's going on. Debating him online amongst ourselves is, as you say, just preaching to the choir.

Look, if you're looking for someone to debate the guy, and you're (or anyone reading this is) in a position to get me sitting next to him at a table on national television, sign me up. I think I've unfortunately proven here (in other threads) that I'm a fan of arguing, as much as it pains me to admit it. I'd love to laugh at his insanity in front of a live audience.

Mike

Bowler, you strike fear into the hearts of men.

But you're absolutely right. The first step towards us making a winning argument over games is to make people such as Thompson admit that their hyperboles are a tad (just a tad) extreme.

RegularX

Another problem with Thompson is that he speaks very grandly, and in wide generalizations. But he's often in context which doesn't try to frame that correctly. So when he paints the game industry as training kids to kill, he really paints the whole industry, all games, every gamer.

I know that's wrong. You know that's wrong. But Ed Bradley doesn't. Nancy Grace doesn't. And neither does the parent watching 60 Minutes or CNN. And that's a lot more harmful to the debate than calling Jack an assclown. It gives people the impression that there is no other side, which just happens to be the very people parents should probably be talking with.

C57/B6

Is not another problem with the whole video-games-lead-to-killing argument is that it is the same as saying that watching Will and Grace will make one gay? Or that playing D&D will make one the devil's pawn? This argument, to me, is basically "Watch or do X you will end up Y" and I would have figured there would be enough examples to show this is certainly not true.

Of course I have played both D&D and violent video games (since Doom),so I guess that makes me a ticking time bomb of death.

bowler

Heh, yeah, C57/B6, I seem to recall D&D being persecuted for a bunch of stupid kids running off and stabbing each other with swords in the forest preserves back in the 80's, and wasn't Rock 'n Roll actually put on trial in the 80's/90's as well (under the guise of Ozzy Osbourne's "Satanic" verses)?

All I'm saying is, don't play any Baldur's Gate while listening to/watching Ozzy, m'kay? Because, y'know, "kablooey."

Mister Toups

Playing Counterstrike will make you gay.

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