Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson's in the news again. We all knew it was a matter of time. It seems every couple of months he ends up rearing his ugly, misinformed head, spouting falsehoods and half-truths to the unsuspecting mainstream media outlets. And why does the media listen to this guy? Because they may be even more clueless than he is, if that could even be possible. There is recent evidence to prove the validity of this, though. Just look back to earlier this month and the whole Mass Effect "Sexbox" controversy. I especially liked the Fox interview with Cooper Lawrence. To her credit, she did research the topic (after the fact) and recanted her previous statements. Better to say your sorry for being wrong instead of proving it time and again. Which leads me back to Thompson.

The more I read about this guy, the more worried I become. His actions, like the people he tries to defend, are becoming more and more erratic. He has recently attempted to defend or assist in defending accused murderers using the "videogames made me do it" defense. Thankfully, to date no judge has sided with his nonsense. Equal unsuccessful in censoring music and retailers in his past, you think this guy would give up, but no, he has the dedication of a religious zealot. He has sued just about everyone in the music, movie, retail, and video game industries. Why does he do it? What does he get out of it? Here's the editorial description for his book, Out Of Harms Way, on Amazon.com:

"Jack Thompson eats giants for breakfast. Just ask media giant and shock-jock Howard Stern, who ranted on air about the "one lunatic lawyer" who got him kicked off the air. Jack, an outraged father and activist lawyer, is on a mission to protect children from the violent and obscene video games, music lyrics, shock jock radio shows, and television programs he says are creating a culture of violence and degradation. Going beyond outrage, Thompson chronicles his own spiritual journey from bystander to activist and offers the sociological, medical, scientific, and legal evidence that will motivate all Americans--especially parents--to get involved."

He has a long, long history of defending his "First Amendment right to annoy people and participate in the public square in the cultural war". I thought the culture war was Bill O'Reilly's thing. Maybe he should sue Thompson. Fortunately for us, this guy has been ruled against far more then he has been proven correct. He has had several high profile cases dismissed, including those against the videogame industry to include: Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games (Bully, GTA, Manhunt, The Warriors), Midway Games (Mortal Kombat), Capcom (Killer 7) and even Maxis and EA (The Sims 2). Come on! The Sims? What the hell is wrong with this guy?

Jack's career has spanned over 30 years and has had many interesting highlights. From his beginnings as a humble lawyer (which must have lasted all of 5 minutes after passing the bar) to bashing Janet Reno (calling her a closet lesbian no less) to his battles with 2 Live Crew (and losing) and to his current obsession with violent video games (losing yet again). In a kind of ironic twist, he also has had repeated clashes with the Florida Bar Association, the association that granted him his license to practice law. He is currently involved in a disbarment case, to be ruled upon in a month or two. If he is ruled against, he will no longer be able to practice law in Florida. What will that mean? He will have to hire a lawyer for any complaints that he wishes to file.

If Jack Thompson thinks he's in a war against videogames, he is definitely losing. He has repeatedly said how he has never played the games he is issuing judgment against. How can you judge a thing if you've never played a thing? I don't know the answer to that. If I don't know something I either research it (ie...play the game), or keep my mouth shut. Maybe Jack needs to pull out a book, other than the bible.

For more information on Jack Thompson, check out the following links:
Game Trailers

Just search for Jack Thompson on the Game Politics and Game Trailers sites for lots of good, and sometimes humorous, information.
Mobile gaming is nothing new, it's been popular since the original Gameboy way back in 1989. Since then, numerous other systems have come and gone from various companies, but none as successful. Today we have 2 handheld gaming systems, one from Nintendo and the other from Sony. We are seeing a very heated competition between the two for the mobile market, and it's only getting hotter. These two systems are not the only ones out there vying for the almighty portable gaming dollar though. There is another competitor. This one is a little different. There is no standard platform, not many big name publishers, and not much in the way of gamer recognition. Even so, most people these days have one of these systems right now. I have one here, beside me, and you probably do, too. What system am I talking about? The humble cellphone.

Yes, the cellphone is turning into the next lucrative gaming platform. I know, I'm surprised myself. But, this is a growing trend, and no, it's not new. I used to work in the cellphone business, way back in those glory days of the mid 90's. Back then cellphones did not have color LCD screens. All we had back then were the standard one line number-only displays. State of the art was the Motorola StarTac phones. A game on a cellphone in those days? Not a chance, never happened. A couple of years later, something funny happened. Cellphones ended up getting LCD screens, and with them, games. They started with simple games are first, black and white versions of Snake or Tetris rip-offs were common, but not today.

The mobile gaming business is huge, and only getting bigger. It's been estimated that the mobile gaming business could possibly reach $8.4 billion by 2010. Now that's a lot of money up in the air, and todays big name publishers are trying to take advantage of it. Take a look at EA and Activision Blizzard. EA owns a company by the name of Jamdat, which in 2005 had an estimated $80 million in earnings and 31% market share in the cellphone gaming market. Second place was a little company called Namco that held 9%. You can see the logic behind the EA purchase of this company. Cellphone games are, by console gaming standards, cheap and easy to make. Why not jump into this ever growing market.

And jump in they have. We have heard recently that a company called IG Fun has secured the rights to make games based on the BioShock property for the mobile market. And that's not the only big name game announcement about mini-sizing themselves. The co-founder of Blizzard, Frank Pearce, in an interview stated that they are looking at bringing some of the World of Warcraft world to the cellphone market. In the interview, Pearce does state that the game itself won't be ported over, that instead they could provide, via cellphones, access to auctions, in-game mail, and other gaming functions to enhance the game experience for the player. In itself, this is an innovative way to integrate new technologies into the lives of WoW players. Maybe by having this ability on cellphones will allow these people to leave their homes more often and see daylight. Have you seen one of those people? They practically glow from being so pale.

This year looks to be very interesting in the mobile market. Whether they realize it, Nintendo and Sony have more then each other as competition in the mobile marketplace. Cellphone games are very popular in other parts of the world, and it's only a matter of time they become popular here. Let's see what they can do with BioShock and (believe it or not) Spore. Yes, Spore, the massive evolution simulator, is scheduled to have a cellphone version too. What this means, we don't know, but it should be interesting.
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Today's words of the day* are FLAME and BAIT. Let us begin with the formal definitions provided by Dictionary.com. (For this post I've omitted any irrelevant definitions)

flame [fleym]

7. intense ardor, zeal, or passion.

12. to burn or burst forth with strong emotion; break into open anger, indignation, etc.

13. Computer Slang. to send an angry, critical, or disparaging electronic message.
–verb (used with object)

Computer Slang. to insult or criticize angrily in an electronic message.
flamer, noun

bait [beyt]

to worry, torment, or persecute, esp. with malicious remarks: a nasty habit of baiting defenseless subordinates.

to tease: They love to bait him about his gaudy ties.

badger, heckle, pester.

Combining the words is where we really see the relevance to our culture. Flamebait. Reading the message boards of a few sites recently, I found the following examples. This first one is from N4G. This poster is obviously anti-PS3. A search of some of his other posts show a pro-Xbox mentality. This next one is from the 1Up boards. Unfortunately, this type of topic generally leads to trash talking about the systems and other negative comments. Now, liking one console over another is not necessarily a bad thing. It becomes unbearable when people attack other people strictly on their console choice.

I know you've seen it elsewhere before. You have a guy (or girl, no need to be sexist) that writes just the right thing to piss you off. Pick any gaming message board and you will see it. There's that one person that is always looking for an argument. The one that gets enjoyment out of criticizing your console of choice or that favorite game of yours. Why do they do it? Short answer. They like to see you get angry. Long answer. They like to see you get angry because they feel inadequate with the choices they've made. It's possibly because they feel that the console they've chosen to support is, they feel, not as good as a competitors or has an exclusive game that is not coming to their system. That could be why they feel the need to lash out at others. Their reasoning behind this lashing out is to make their victim feel as if they, in fact, have made the wrong choice, and not the aggressor.

So, how do we avoid flamebait and the resulting flamewars? You can't. You will always see that offensive person and his or her opinion about your favorite console. Should you let it get to you? No. You can post a response to a person like this, but just don't sink to their level. Be logical, concise, and know what you are talking about. It is doubtful you will get a logical response back, but on the good side, you may just convince the offending poster to not add to the conversation. These people do not like being proven wrong, and if you do so, they just might go away. It won't work all the time, but it has worked for me. You might also try ignoring them. That will also prevent them from getting what they want. Angry responses.

Let me add just one more definition to this post:

gamer [gey-mer]

a person who plays games

This what I am and what I believe in. I play for the games, not the consoles. I'm not an Xbot. I'm not part of the Sony Defense Force (SDF). I'm not a beWiiver**. I'm a gamer. Pure and simple.

*Disclaimer: In using the phrase "word of the day" I am not stating that I will, in fact, write about a word every day. It just sounded better than "word of the week" or "word of the whenever the hell I feel like writing about a word".

** I'd love to take credit for this word, but that belongs to Penny Arcade.
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