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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Myths from Jack "BatJack" Thompson

Fine, I refer to him again. Right now about 95% of the traffic coming to this blog is looking for information about Jack Thompson, or as I like to call him now ... BatJack (thanks Broken Toys), so what is one to do. I live to serve, peeps, I live to serve.

These latest gems are courtesy his interview with ChatterBox [big MP3 there] where he not only violated his court demand to stop talking to the media about the Devin Moore case, but also tried to pass the following along as truths.

The game industry caused Columbine
One of Jack's favorite thumping points. The problem with this theory, and another fine example of just how much respect Jack has for the law, is that the lawsuit arguing the same thing was thrown out:

Babcock rejected the plaintiffs' claim that video games should not be protected by the First Amendment, ruling that a decision against the game makers would have a chilling effect on free speech.

"Setting aside any personal distaste, as I must, it is manifest that there is social utility in expressive and imaginative forms of entertainment, even if they contain violence," Babcock wrote.

Doug Lowenstein advocates porn for children
Well, to be fair, what Jack said was something more like "Doug believes kids have a constitutional right to buy porn", or what he said in his letter was "consume porn" ... which is an odd mental image.

What Doug actually said was:

"This law will have a chilling effect on free speech. It will limit First Amendment rights not only for Illinois' residents, but for game developers and publishers, and for retailers who won't know what games can and cannot be sold or rented under this vague new statute," said ESA president Douglas Lowenstein.
-- llinois Game Bill Becomes Law; Game Industry Fights Back

That, of course, being in response to the Demuzio Law. Funny how things sound different when not spoken by a crazy person, isn't it?

50% of kids purchase mature video games...
...during successful stings. I can't really debate that percentage, since I've never actually seen any information on any of Jack's infamous stings posted publically ... anywhere. But let's take it at face value. Let's do the math here.

85% of all video games for minors are purchased by adults. That leaves 15% of minor purchases actually being made by the minor themselves. Half of them wouldn't be able to buy it an M game at a store, so that is about 7% of minor purchases. Only 12% of video games have a M or AO rating.

So out of all the games purchased for kids, probably around 1% are actually out there buying a game potentially inappropriate for them. So when the Senators and BatJack are screaming "THINK OF THE CHILDREN!" Remember, they really mean "THINK OF ONE PERCENT OF THE CHILDREN!".

Mods violate a game's copyright
This one was bizarre. Thompson talked about this at length, making me think that the mod connection is a lot safer than it previously appeared. According to BatJack, any mod that releases while mentioning the game title they are modding is in effect violating that game's copyright. You know, like Unreal Tournament 2004 mods or Half-Life 2 mods or ... hey, wait ... I just violated some copyright!

Of course, I didn't. Mods by and large don't use any branding or logos or trademarks or assets or anything else that isn't covered by their EULA. Epic has, for instance, very strict rules about what you can and can't use to release your mod with. They even loosened those rules for the MSUC to include previous incarnations of their products to give mod authors more material to take from.

But a mod can't just simply take anything it wants and brand itself with a lot of logos implying a direct connection or relationship with the parent company. With the exception of some splash imagery while a game is loading, perhaps, the distinction is perfectly clear. Having modded for years now, I can safely say that BatJack is barking not just in the wrong tree here, but in a completely different yard.

But fraud is fraud!
Well, I guess that's naturally true ... but I thought it would be interesting to point out that BatJack defends this grandma who bought her fourteen year-old kid because, well, fraud is fraud.

Let's repeat that. BatJack defends a grandparent who buys their fourteen year old kid Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

And again.

BatJack defends a grandparent who buys their fourteen year old kid Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

What a goram hypocrite.

1 comment:

Finster said...

I'd also like to point out that the Army does NOT use interactive media to teach "killing skills". They do use it to teach tactics and strategy. To teach killing skills, they put guns in your hand, and have you shoot live ammo at targets. They also use MILES which is NOT a video game, but consists of attaching laser pointers to a gun which fires blanks.

AFAIK, however, no internal Army "video games" are used other than to teach small unit tactics, and strategy. For instance, the Army used Doom, not to teach killing, but to teach basic 4-man room-sweeping tactics. Also, the Air Force used Starcraft to teach the importance of air support and basic air superiority strategy.

BatJack needs to be counter-sued by someone.