jack thompson

All posts tagged jack thompson

The two big swaths of entertainment for us this past week has been Iron Man (which Xstine and I saw for a combined 5 times!) and, of course, Grand Theft Auto 4.

Ah, GTA4… I quickly got bored of the original Playstation one, but somehow this latest entry has really brought back the fun. THere is a certain threshold that the right amount of variety crosses to give you the feeling of an infinitely rich world, and they were finally able to pull it off. Don't get me wrong, there are still obvious repetition in peds and vehicles, and the facial animation isn't nearly as well done as people seem to think, but all is forgiven the moment you enter this beautiful game. They've set a standard in time-of-day lighting, panoramas, and sheer environmental variety. Every part of town has it's own flavor reflecting the virtual "realities" of the local economy, history, and people. It's as close to a living breathing city as we have in video games.

The gameplay interests in a different way. Sometimes, the missions can be unforgivingly hard since the camera is utterly obtuse, and the controls are a mash-up of schemas that just couldn't get along. I suppose they had no choice, but there is certainly little elegance in getting your protagonist Nico Bellic to do a wide range of mundane to violent actions. Somehow, the sandbox play eases up the difficulty scaling by letting you go on murderous tangents whenever you feel frustration rising. It's very self-regulating. I may be en route to a critical mission when an off-the-cuff remark from a sassy pedestrian will send me into a rampage, and an hour later I've accomplished nothing but a trail of bodies. What better way to take out my frustrations at repeated mission failings.

That lack of progress is a bit tiring, and the game's punishment system is too binary (being arrested is worse than dying because you get all weapons stripped?), and the saving is a penalty itself (you can't save mid-mission, you can't quit missions, and you only have one place in a huge town to save). But for once I can overlook fundamental gameplay flaws because the game isn't just polished, it *is* polish. From the endless webpages you can browse to a huge amount of television and radio content, there is no shortage of quality satire of every aspect of our real lives. There's too much to absorb that it's almost paralyzing.

There is even an in-game joke referencing idiot attorney extraordinaire Jack Thompson, who oh-so-cleverly phoned into NPR to voice his misguided attack on the game's content. Unfortunately, the gamer correspondent on the show made for pitiful defense. Gamers need to stop masturbating over the game's features and start talking about the issues intelligently.

It's ignorant to claim games can't incite violence. There is no way that that amount of violent exposure doesn't cause some level of aggressiveness or desensitization. Gamers need to accept that. Then they need to turn around and point out the double-edge sword that treats games as brainwashing kill trainers, but pretends violence in TV, film, comics, books, music, or any other medium is innocuous. Yes, GTA4 will end up in the hands of certain impressionable children, but you can't sue Take-Two for that, you have to blame the retailers. And frankly, they really can't, because game retailers have done a great job controlling sales to minors. Check out the FTC report yourself.

But since stupid lawyers want to reduce games to nothing but murder sims, I see nothing wrong with putting lawyers into games as nothing but sims to murder. After so many violent games, it's not like we have the free-will to think otherwise.

There is a tragic flaw in the modern American character. Would it be jingoism, world ignorance, or hypocrisy? No, I find all those to be but charming idiosyncrasy, as innocent as apple pie, and as harmless as a cute .38 snubnose concealed gingerly in an embroidered leather holster. I speak of a greater flaw: the inability to accept due responsibliity, especially when none is due.

My thread from my heart to my tearducts was strained uncomfortably this week, and my agnostic prayers go out to the fine community of Virginia Tech. Who would have known a crazy gunman would wreak havoc on their idyll lives. Actually, I would have guessed… Korean student going for an English Major? I can only imagine how much his asian parents approved of that.

But for all my sympathy, I can not stand the immediate scapegoating that followed. Suddenly, the university was to blame for not alerting 25,000 sleepy college students that they didn’t know a crazed gunman was loose since they only started investigating a domestic-dispute homicide. Maybe they were to blame for not knowing the exact location of the gunman on their 2500-acre campus, and making the silly assumption that he had made a run for it the way 99% of criminals do.

Oh but it got worse.

Infamy whore Jack Thompson, a leech, a pox, played the video game card before he (or the rest of the country) had a damn clue about what had transpired. It should have been blatantly obvious to the press that the uber-violent video games that the unknown gunman was not known to have MUST have caused this killing spree. The Washington Post demonstrated remarkable journalistic integrity by reporting the gunman was a hardcore afficiando of Counterstrike. A day later, that statement was removed from their article, surely with only the best intentions. Didn’t I just write about this?

Do we have to find someone to blame? Parents, games, guns, police, media, or whatever the hell is near any disaster, why is it we pick one and not all (or none) to blame? It’s like a need to put a face or identity to the blame. This kid was just fucked-up, and the gestalt of his recipe for insanity is at once everything and nothing. In fact, because it is everything, it is nothing. We need to focus on healing, acceptance, and have everyone learn pre-emptive empathy. It is nonsense to find sense in senseless violence. Let’s learn more about the victims and what they could have been, and not let the 15 minutes of each new accusation rob them of what is really their time. They have been robbed of enough.


Let's pretend this cute spokes-pre-teen for Sega inspired this rant, I need an excuse to post her. I'm not a huge fan of Japanese chicks, but this one looks genetically cultivated and bionically enhanced to be the ruling anime Amazonian in the jungle of the shamefully kawaii.

While it would be fun to jump in on the virtual carnaval of Sony hatred that the recent rumors of PS3 development going awry, the AACS re-delay of Blue-Ray standards, and a poorly written but spiritually semi-competent report from Merrill Lynch have drummed up among the webernet, I think I'll stay out of it.

As much as I despise Sony for being the new content tyrant with their draconian DRM/rootkit stances and their insistence on forcing new (read: their) formats down our throats, to me it's almost a non-issue that pricing point will affect my future purchases from now on. With quality these days being hit or miss personified, my wallet and my wife are not going to stand idly by to see me gamble for a good game.

Merrill Lynch says the PS3 will cost them $900 per unit. More power to them, both of them. My purchase line-up is already determined:

DS Lite
Some DS games
Some DS games
Hellgate: London X2
Fallout 3
Some DS games
Revolution games
Neverwinter Nights 2

As a working couple, we really have less and less time now to spend playing games that the other doesn't care about. Cooperative games will be huge in the future, mark my words. We had our stint in the XboxLiveness of random multiplayer, and it's simply not as satisfying as playing with people you know. I don't give a crap about Blu-Ray, as I'm going to end up streaming a harddrive to my TV. I want to kill shit. With my gal.

In the meantime, it's been interesting to be at the sidelines of this dismal, blinded war, and I wish I could take bets like in Fantasy Football. Take this Google map of game legislation and this Google map of game company locations, squint really hard and it… kinda… looks like Gondor and Mordor on the eve of the final battle. My Tim Schafer the White with his double+ 2 to imagination is losing the profit dice rolls against the Democrat ringwraiths, despite the fall of Jack Thompson from Isengard. Am I losing my mind?

In other news, I am unable to beat Cowboys From Hell on Hard anymore. Excuse me, as I have a wrist to break.