Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Quiz

Isn't it rich?
Isn't it queer?
Losing my timing this late
In my career?
--Stephen Sondheim, "Send In The Clowns"

Send In The Clowns: the new meme.

Here's a question for you: do you remember when Jack Thompson was relevant?

I ask this question because three weeks ago, it was duly noted in the gaming press that Thompson had sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, encouraging him to stop the release of EA's upcoming Medal Of Honor game.

Of course, the only way that any media outlets found out about this is that Thompson told them.

Here were his main "points":
Thompson's objection is fourfold: that the game itself used U.S. Special Operations soldiers as consultants, which would provide enemies a "powerful and useful training tool to rehearse killing our soldiers"; that the game allows players to play as the Taliban; that EA is allegedly allowing anyone to preorder the game, regardless of age; and that school massacres have been linked to "military killing simulators" like the "Medal of Honor" game.

Let me make this clear: no school massacres have ever been linked to "military killing simulators." Do some kids who shoot other kids play videogames? Yes, they do, like most of their peers. Has any law enforcement or intelligence organization ever concluded that videogames were responsible for any of these tragedies? No, and Jack Thompson is a disingenuous asshole for repeatedly ignoring the facts in order to further his own fame.

This entire controversy over the upcoming Medal Of Honor game is entirely contrived and manufactured by people who believe they have something to gain. I'm sure the Taliban has pre-ordered thousands of copies of this game. "Yes, our tactics may have been weak in the past, but this videogame is going to put us over the top! Let us sit around our newly-purchased plasma television and play co-op!

Thompson is always leading the charge in situations like this because he is so desperate to be noticed. The funny thing, though, is that he's not really famous any more. Thompson was always a self-promoting loser, but there was a segment of society that took him very seriously. Now, though, after his disbarment, it's hard for anyone to even pretend that he is anything more than part of the lunatic fringe. He's just this shitty unlikable version of Don Quixote, without the empathy, charm, or poignancy, and of course without Sancho Panza.

What's most interesting about this, really, is how quickly he disappeared. Thompson was back in the headlines for one day, maybe two, then everyone suddenly remembered that he no longer mattered. And everyone stopped paying attention.

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