Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Jack Thompson is right


Jack Thompson built a name for himself attacking video game companies. In his mind, video games cause violent behavior. I was first aware of this mindset when Eidos was sued on behalf of families of Columbine victims. Some attorney brought a class action based on our publishing and distribution of Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy VII PC. I felt the attorneys responsible for bringing in the action were preying on the victims of tragedy to satisfy their own personal agendas. Since then Jack Thompson has created somewhat of a name for himself pursuing these types of actions. However, now, as the victim of a mindless act, replicating the actions taken in the most popular video game in the world, I believe Jack.

My wife’s car was the object of a hit and run accident. The car was parked on the street in front of our house, and a car drove into the door, caused thousands of dollars in damage, and drove away without leaving a note or any other way to find them. This is exactly the type of action, which is not only encouraged, but rewarded, in the most popular game in the world, GT4. Gran Turismo 4 places individuals in cars just like the ones we see on the road and allows them to race around a track, bumping into other cars with complete impunity. The driver can also force a car off the road, again, with no accountability and without even having the option to leave a note or take responsibility for his or her action.

I am glad I made the connection to GT4 and Sony because it lets me blame someone. I have to blame someone. If I just consider it a random act by an amoral individual, I cannot assign blame, displace anger, or recover financial damages. Prior to assigning blame to Sony I had no one. The person who hit the car drove away. I certainly do not want to blame myself for assuming this obvious risk by parking the car on a narrow street; it is my right to do so. It makes me feel good to find Sony.

If my insurance did not cover the damage I would be able to find an attorney like Jack Thompson who would take my case and get me the money I need to repair my car. As a matter of fact, he would tell me how he could get me punitive damages from Sony to punish them for their poor judgment in publishing a game as evil as GT4. Jack would help me by assembling a class of individuals who were also victims of hit and run accidents and we would sue Sony not only for my damage, but also for a whole lot of damages. We would sue, and Jack’s fee would be measured, from the aggregate of everyone’s damages in the entire class. Forget that neither he nor anyone else who ever brought this type of action against a game publisher ever won a penny. Forget also that Jack stands to make more money and garner more publicity than any of the victims of the tragic crime, which placed them in the class. Forget that there is no solid science or research tying video game violence to violence in the real world. We are just lucky to have Jack. Without Jack, we may not only be forced to assume responsibility for our own actions, but the actions of society as a whole.

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