Jack Thompson: Video Games Inspire Violence

by on January 9, 2008 · 9 comments

TLF readers may be interested in reading a piece I just wrote with John Berlau, a colleague of mine at CEI, about Hillary Clinton’s stance on video game regulation. Senator Clinton has taken a very aggressive stance against video game violence, suggesting the FTC should oversee how games are rated, opening the door to further interference with the ESRB system.

We’ve quickly received feedback from one of the heavy-hitters in the anti-gaming world. None other than Jack Thompson emailed John today. Thompson, a famous anti-gaming lawyer and activist, has supported a wide variety of legislative solutions to the supposed plague of video game violence. His email to John contained no text in the body, but the subject line read as follows:

You’re wrong. Video games inspire violence. It’s a public safety hazard and a legitimate governmental concern

He attached a PDF of a Stephen Moore column for the Wall Street Journal to back up this assertion. In the piece, Moore complains that his children have turned into zombies, claiming that video games are the “new crack cocaine.” Though I love Moore and his columns for the WSJ and agree with him more often than not, this is one of those instances of not.

Video games are addictive, I’ll say that from personal experience, but I’ve been able to wean myself off a nearly debilitating addiction to Company of Heroes–I’m now down to a reasonable 4 hours a week. But games aren’t the new crack, they’re just a new diversion that neither kids nor adults should invest too much time into. Kids don’t have the self control to keep themselves away from them, so once parents let the kids vegetate for 8 hours a day, it is a tough job for parents to refuse kids their endorphin-producing joy-machines, but government won’t do a better job.

Instead of pushing for government action, which would be a 1st Amendment violation in addition to being ineffective, Jack Thompson ought to be trying to educate parents about sensible limitations for little ones and pointing them in the direction of Adam Thierer’s Parental Controls and Online Child Protection: A Survey of Tools & Methods.

  • http://www.GameJobHunter.com GameJobHunter

    As long as video game titles are approriately advertised and rated, there is no harm. ESRB does a reasonable job in assuring that consumers are aware of what type of experience they are in for before they pick up the controller. Parents or guardians are responsible for the frequency and type of exposure their dependents experience. Violence that is present in certain types of games is common in other popular more popular media types with less backlash (tv, internet, books, etc…). Furthermore, violence is only present in certain types of video games, and some of the most popular titles today (Rock Band, Guitar Hero III, Wii sports titles, etc…) do not contain violence. I think a lot of these types of opinions stem from lack of understanding and dangerously unintelligent blanket statements.

    Andy Williams | Biz Dev
    GameJobHunter, Inc.
    http://www.GameJobHunter.com

  • http://www.GameJobHunter.com GameJobHunter

    As long as video game titles are approriately advertised and rated, there is no harm. ESRB does a reasonable job in assuring that consumers are aware of what type of experience they are in for before they pick up the controller. Parents or guardians are responsible for the frequency and type of exposure their dependents experience. Violence that is present in certain types of games is common in other popular more popular media types with less backlash (tv, internet, books, etc…). Furthermore, violence is only present in certain types of video games, and some of the most popular titles today (Rock Band, Guitar Hero III, Wii sports titles, etc…) do not contain violence. I think a lot of these types of opinions stem from lack of understanding and dangerously unintelligent blanket statements.

    Andy Williams | Biz Dev
    GameJobHunter, Inc.
    http://www.GameJobHunter.com

  • Mryoto

    Well with what GameJobHunter said is was something like this “Furthermore, violence is only present in certain types of video games, and some of the most popular titles today (Rock Band, Guitar Hero III, Wii sports titles, etc…) do not contain violence.” ok well when he said that I agree with him but he did make one mistake the fact that he included Wii sports in the titles of big games without violence in them is wrong, for the reason that in Wii sports you can play boxing which is violent but the only violent game we should worry about at all and I don’t is Gears Of War. I love the game Gears of War I play it all the time but some of the ideas in it are over the top take the chain saw bayonet, the Torque Bow ( not sure if spelled right), the boom shot, Etc. I am not against violence in video game and I do think that the ESRB ratings help a lot of people but I do think in some cases it can be tweeked a little.

  • Mryoto

    Well with what GameJobHunter said is was something like this “Furthermore, violence is only present in certain types of video games, and some of the most popular titles today (Rock Band, Guitar Hero III, Wii sports titles, etc…) do not contain violence.” ok well when he said that I agree with him but he did make one mistake the fact that he included Wii sports in the titles of big games without violence in them is wrong, for the reason that in Wii sports you can play boxing which is violent but the only violent game we should worry about at all and I don’t is Gears Of War. I love the game Gears of War I play it all the time but some of the ideas in it are over the top take the chain saw bayonet, the Torque Bow ( not sure if spelled right), the boom shot, Etc. I am not against violence in video game and I do think that the ESRB ratings help a lot of people but I do think in some cases it can be tweeked a little.

  • jon

    a teacher just disagreed with jack

  • David

    It doesnt matter

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rakuen-Sakuraba/1207374054 Rakuen Sakuraba

    I see no problem with video games. It's sensationalism that Thompson exhibits. But look at the numbers– Crime doers are nothing but less than a percent of the videogaming population. Well, the addiction is another concern that I'd like to talk more about because it's a bigger deal than the debate of whether videogaming does or doesn't inspire violence.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rakuen-Sakuraba/1207374054 Rakuen Sakuraba

    I see no problem with video games. It's sensationalism that Thompson exhibits. But look at the numbers– Crime doers are nothing but less than a percent of the videogaming population. Well, the addiction is another concern that I'd like to talk more about because it's a bigger deal than the debate of whether videogaming does or doesn't inspire violence.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rakuen-Sakuraba/1207374054 Rakuen Sakuraba

    I see no problem with video games. It's sensationalism that Thompson exhibits. But look at the numbers– Crime doers are nothing but less than a percent of the videogaming population. Well, the addiction is another concern that I'd like to talk more about because it's a bigger deal than the debate of whether videogaming does or doesn't inspire violence.

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