January 15, 2009

Jack Thompson, Parents, and Gaming

Jimmy James 70 Says: In the following article, Kube00 maintains that some extremists, like Jack Thompson, like to use video games as the reason for violence in today’s youth. He continues to say that parents are responsible for their children’s actions.

As the founder and Executive Editor of The Goozex Report, and the father of 2-year old twins, I feel it necessary to throw my opinion into the ring.

To tackle the issue of characters like Jack Thompson, I must state that people like him are solely in it for the publicity and to make a name for themselves. It’s always the extreme radicals that grab the headlines, and in the process, make some money and a name for themselves. Back in the 1980’s, rock n roll and Ozzy Ozbourne were the equivalent of video games. There were several court cases in which Ozzie’s music was held responsible for teenage suicides. The cases were dismissed, much like Jack Thompson.

There have been study after study about violence and sex in the movies and on television and that we must protect our children from such horrors. The basic arguments are, does the media reflect society, or does society reflect the media? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I’ll stop here before I start re-writing my old college papers… I will say this though, there will be another Jack Thompson, and there will be another target, but they will be dismissed just as all their predecessors were.

Society is responsible for the welfare of one another. In the United States, we happen to live in a warrior culture, and that is reflected in the movies we watch and the games we play. Perhaps one day that will change and there will be peace on earth. Maybe. One day.

To tackle the issue of parenting, well, that’s a whole other story. Parents are responsible for the safety and well being of their children and to teach them right from wrong. Teachers also share in this responsibility. Friends and neighbors share in this as well. Anyone and everyone that is an influence in your life helps shape your perspective on this world. After a child leaves the house, they become responsible for themselves and those they care for. At this point, when the child leaves the home, hopefully they have learned the lessons taught to them. That’s all anyone can hope for.

Kube00 Says: Jack Thompson is a name that strikes fear into gamers. He is the lawyer known for going after video games and their connection to juvenile crimes for a variety of reasons; mainly to highlight the “evils” in video games. He is best known for going after gaming giant Rockstar and its publisher Take-Two Interactive for the Grand Theft Auto series. He’s also gone after Midway for Mortal Kombat.
He tried to change the ESRB ratings, and ban the sale, for such games as Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, Bully, Manhunt 2, as well as a few others.* He was fascinated with the idea of preventing retailers from selling some of the games listed above because they “glorified violence, made it pleasurable,” and contained sex, nudity, drugs, as well as several other mature themes. Thompson sees violent video games as an outlet to blame people’s actions upon, especially those of young teens who steal cars, shoot up schools, and act like the laws don’t exist.

One of the oddest things he tried to place blame on dealt with trying to connect the Virginia Tech shooting and the shooter Seung-Hui Cho with the game Counterstrike. Thompson stated Seung-Hui had learned to kill from the game because it, "drills you and gives you scenarios on how to kill them [and] gets you to kill them with your heart rate lower.” Seung-hui hadn’t played the game since high school and there was no connection. It’s like blaming Marilyn Manson for the Columbine Shootings.* Right….

Well, let me ask this question. Where were the parents in all of this? Shouldn’t they be teaching their sons and daughters right from wrong? Most people understand what takes place in video games is not possible in real life. You can’t commit a carjacking, rob a bank, or run down pedestrians in a delivery truck and get away with it. And besides, I’m sure most of us have seen “R” rated movies and played mature game before we were 17, and most of us function normally in society.

I may be preaching to the choir, but honestly, parents need to take some time and do some “parenting;” and lead by example. Pay attention to what is going in your sons’ and daughters’ lives. Video games are fun and full of senseless violence, but they don’t teach gamers how to kill, and they should not be teaching what is right or wrong. The parents should be teaching their children and not video games. If anything, the average gamer learns how to improve their hand-eye coordination.

Society can’t blame GTA III for what little Tommy does in his daily life, that’s just an excuse. The parents need to be held accountable for their children. If anything, I didn’t mean to preach, I just wanted to shed some light on something I think gets swept under the rug or miss directed. Also, I’m sure gamers haven’t seen the end of Jack Thompson, although it seems the Florida Bar has imposed sanctions on him. Until then, just remember, it’s just a game.

*Information taken from Wikipedia.

Disclaimer: this is just the opinion of one writer, kube00, and does not reflect the ideals or opinions of The Goozex Report.