Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jack Thompson thinks I need a life ...

Well now, THIS was certainly something interesting to wake up to. Bear with me ... this is going to run a little long.

If you've been following my blogs or checking out Game Almighty, you know that I've had the unfortunate "pleasure" of dealing with Jack Thompson. If you don't know who Jack Thompson is, I'd normally say count your blessings, but the truth of the matter is if you don't know who he is, you should at least be informed. He's a man who spews bile and venom at anything and everything that does not fall into his extreme views of what he deems as right and proper. I'm not going to go into a long diatribe right now, but suffice it to say he's a man whose words and actions should be looked at objectively, and not accepted blindly or ignored out of hand.

Having said that, I've been making a point of reporting on Thompson and his activities. I've done my best to simply present the facts to the best of my knowledge. Sure, I can't say that my own opinion hasn't occasionally creeped up in places, but never to the extent of making what I've written anything less than fair. After all, I've always held true to the belief that it's up to people as individuals to make up their minds ... and to not assume that MY way is the RIGHT way, an argument I don't believe Jack would understand.

So, my last article regarding Jack sending a letter to the CEO of Wendy's seemed to irk him. I received a short email stating that I was "not interested in fair coverage of an issue". Admittedly, this got under my skin ... more than enough for me to formulate a response. Here's what I had to say in return:

Mr. Thompson,

For the life of me, I can't figure out where you decided that I'm not interested in "fair coverage of an issue". The letter you sent to Kerri Anderson was printed in its entirety to allow readers to make up their own minds. Also, I've regularly requested interviews with you to help explain your point of view to myself and to the Game Almighty readers. You've even been offered an uncensored open forum to address the issues and the audience you are so extremely critical of. At every turn, you've talked down to the gaming audience and even gone so far as to claim that one reason you refused to do an interview was because the name "Game Almighty" was, in your words, "blasphemous".

From the start, I've told you that while you and I may not see eye to eye, I respect your right to speak. I've said time and again that my hope has been through open communication, both sides of the issue could at least come away with a better understanding of each other's views. I sent you a copy of the Swinburne University of Technology study to help on my side of the equation and I've asked about your thoughts on various gaming related matters to help showcase your views. I've made every attempt to give you a voice at Game Almighty. You have been the one to decline to use that voice.

As far as the most recent article goes, again, your letter was printed in its entirety to allow readers to judge the issue for themselves. Also, nothing printed in the article was untrue in the slightest. You did extend your fifteen minutes on the back of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, even going to far as to attempt to inject yourself into the police investigation, claiming to the police chief that "If your Department really wants to get to the bottom of this, you need to talk to me now."

You've also been engaged in an ongoing battle with the Florida Bar, which is currently looking into disciplinary action against you for your conduct and practices. You've attributed this to a vendetta and conspiracy targeting you by both the Bar and Take Two (and even members of the gaming media).

You've also settled the most recent round of lawsuits with Take Two, with conditions in place which are meant to prevent you from suing Take Two or those doing business with Take Two in an effort to block the sale of the Manhunt 2 or GTA IV, or to make any accusations that those doing business with the company have done wrong by offering the game. In fact, the terms of the settlement read specifically:

"Thompson shall not communicate on his own behalf with (i) any Take Two Entity or (ii) with any person or entity engaged in business activities of any kind with any Take Two Entity in which he (a) accuses, claims or asserts that any Take Two Entity has engaged or will engage in any wrongdoing based on the sale or distribution of any game designed, manufactured, distributed or sold by any Take-Two Entity, or (b) accuses, claims, asserts or contends that any such person or entity has or will engage in any wrongdoing based on or arising out of such sale or distribution, or (c) threatens any kind of action against such person or entity based on or arising out of such sale or distribution."

While the settlement does state that you still have the right to criticize the content and distribution of Take Two games, based on a reading of the above, your letter to Anderson could be construed as coming close to, if not actually, violating the terms of the settlement. Hence my observation at the end of the most recent story.

You challenged Jason Della Rocca, Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), to debate the issues in a press release, and then proceeded to backpedal on the issue when Della Rocca asked to do the debate without making money on the issue. In your press release, you stated, "Debate, Mr. Della Rocca, debate. Put your mouth where your money is. Stop hiding in your industry's corporate caves. Either debate or be quiet, as quiet as the people your industry has helped put into the ground." And yet you seemed to make clear you were more interested in making money off of the debate than you were in actually debating the issue. Your initial press release asked, "Or is Mr. Della Rocca, like others who are "spokespersons" for the violent video game industry, a coward who is unwilling to debate these issues in a public forum and not through a press office news release?" Yet by your own actions, you seemed to be the one unwilling to debate in a public forum instead of through news releases ... at least unless you were paid for it. Even in your dealings with Game Almighty, you would never answer direct questions asked of you regarding the issues, instead simply sending either short one or two sentence refusals to do an interview or sending out your latest press release with no regard for the questions asked.

You've even gone so far as to claim that numerous media outlets were all conspiring together against you, filing suits and attempting to get federal investigations on the matter. For what it's worth, I can guarantee you that there are no secret handshakes and special gatherings where we all dress in robes and chant in a darkened room surrounded by candles plotting your downfall. To be perfectly frank, based on my own interactions with you recently and the total the disregard and lack of respect you've shown to me, to Game Almighty, to the media, to the game industry as a whole, and to our audience, I personally would rather not be a party to helping spread the misinformed venom you seem to spew forth on a regular basis.

Still, despite all of this, I have and would continue to give you a voice at Game Almighty. Why? Because I am a professional. Do I have my own beliefs of the issues? Of course. Are they in direct conflict with yours? Obviously it would appear to be the case. However, I DO respect your right to have your views, and I still believe that understanding comes from communication. I believe that, while I may not agree with your point of view in the slightest, you have every right to that point of view, and you have the right to be heard. I believe that the audience should hear BOTH sides of the issues and draw their own conclusions. I believe that people, on the whole, are a lot more intelligent than you seem to give them credit for.

So, I will continue to cover you and your actions as they relate to the game industry. I will also continue to offer you an opportunity to speak, to discuss the issues, or to rebut and stories. I will continue to publish pertinent press releases and such you send on a regular basis. And I will do so in order to allow the audience to make informed decisions, regardless of what side of the issue they fall on. As a professional, I will continue to present BOTH sides of the story. It is up to you to choose whether or not to take advantage of this.

David Chapman
News Editor, Game Almighty

Now, if you're still reading this, you've probably already started to formulate your own opinions about this situation. Some of you may think I should have just let it drop. Some of you may think my response was a bit out of line. Some of you may be cheering me on ... that's for you to decide. As for Jack himself, this was his response to my challange of his actions and the backing I provided in each case:

"You have WAY too much time on your hands. Get a life"

So, now I leave it in your hands ... what do all of YOU think?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I'm baaaaaaaccccckkkk

So, it's been WAY too long since my last post here. There's a lot of updating to be done over the weekend. I'll get to it though. Here's the short short version of recent events though.

  • Got regular gig as News Editor for Game Almighty

  • Been working like a fiend at said job, doing things like having to talk with Jack Thompson (if you know who he is, you know why that is a chore)

  • Had to get a new laptop and get everything configured and transferred in from the old system ... while that SHOULDN'T have taken a long time, it has ... plus I'm upgrading how I handle things as well.

  • Blogger's finally updated, meaning no more "Sign into Beta" crap.

  • Meet Daily ... Daily Beagle (bonus geek points to those of you that get the joke):

What time I DO have left, I've been trying to have some sort of social life. However, I AM back now and I will be updating semi-regularly, usually on weekends now. So, to those that missed me ... I missed you guys too.