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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

When The Media Wakes Up To Jack Thompson

I suppose it was inevitable. Sooner or later Jack would say something so incredulous that when no evidence at all would support him, the media outlets would finally question him.

Meanwhile, authorities released a search warrant listing the items found in Cho's dorm room. Not a single video game, console or gaming gadget was on the list, though a computer was confiscated. And in an interview with Chris Matthews of "Hardball," Cho's university suite-mate said he had never seen Cho play video games.
-- Were video games to blame for massacre?

Which leaves the door wide open for such a quote as this, just a bit down in the same piece:

"It's so sad. These massacre chasers — they're worse than ambulance chasers — they're waiting for these things to happen so they can jump on their soapbox," said Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association.

And from, what almost amounts as a confession from the media:

How does this happen? Unfortunately, I have some insight. In a previous life as a news reporter covering courts, I remember the strong temptation to go to lawyer Gloria Allred for quotes. Sure, half of what she said sounded like blathering nonsense, but she was so easy to get on the phone before deadline.

But the Thompson situation is infinitely worse, because his misinformation mostly goes unquestioned by anchors who clearly know nothing about video games. Most just nod their heads gravely or don't seem to understand what he's saying. And while Allred is one of many lawyers who offer opinions on legal issues, when it comes to video games, Thompson's seems to be the solitary number in the mainstream media's massacre-coverage Rolodex.

All of this is a shame, because it sets back important debate. There are real video game issues that need to be discussed intelligently, including the industry's confusing ratings system, minors interacting with adults in online games -- and, yes, the level of violence in Mature-rated games.

-- Another tragedy, another platform for video game fearmonger

This is what I wrote in September of last year (after the Kimveer Gill shootings):

Remember, Devin Moore was a "someone who loved trouble, stealing cars and dabbling in drugs", according to his own father. Not some straight-A student who suddenly fell into a den of evil video games. None of these examples - not Columbine, not Devin and not Gill - have any indication that either the people involved were anything but unbalanced regardless of the kind of media they enjoyed.

Focusing on these extreme sensationalistic cases isn't good for either side. It demonizes gamers and drowns out the legitimate science. There are studies that video games can be inappropriate for children ... either because of content or quantity. However by trying to make a good parenting issue into a mental health or crime prevention one ... everyone loses out.

Course, I keep saying this over and over. The media could care less, though, because they're out for the sensational story. Politicians could care less because they just want to look like they care about the children. Jack Thompson could care less because he's insane.
-- Cathode Tan

Perhaps after the pundits (I include you, Dr. Phil) realize just how off the mark this was - they can realize the wicker man they've been creating out in the field. Fox can't consider it a serious news outlet and Jack Thompson a "school shooting expert" at the same time. Either you report the truth or you report sensational nonsense. It's time to draw the line in the sand.

This kind of misinformation and the connected attention whoring by the likes of Thompson is an insult to journalism, to gamers and to Virginia Tech and all the other victims of shootings trivialized and marginalized by somebody's media crusade. And not in that order.

The time to stop was about two years ago, actually. It's good to see a little catch up being made though.

Thanks to Patrick and GamePolitics for the links.

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