Here you will find various transcripts from TV interviews and discussions
with Jack Thompson.
Table of Contents
Lou Dobbs Tonight
- CNN, Nancy
- CBS News,
GameSpeak: Jack Thompson
Head to Head
- IGN, Manhunt Lawyer Speaks
CNN, Lou Dobbs Tonight
[aired 24th August 2005 - 18:00 ET]
Dobbs: Tonight, another
disturbing example of our culture in decline. A new video game to
be released this fall encourages children who have been bullied
to become bullies themselves. Controversy has now erupted over the
game and whether it should be sold at all.
Lisa Sylvester has the story.
Lisa Sylvester, CNN Correspondent (voice
over): The game us called "Bully." The kid who
was bullied becomes the bully, taunting, beating up fellow students,
and intimidating teachers. "Bully" is made by Rockstar
Games, the same company behind the controversial game "Grand
Jack Thompson, Video Game Activist:
And what you are in effect doing is rehearsing your physical revenge
and violence against those whom you have been victimized by. And
then you, like Klebold and Harris in Columbine, become the ultimate
Sylvester: In 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris
killed 12 classmates and a teacher at Columbine High before committing
suicide. Activist Jack Thompson calls "Bully" a Columbine
simulator. He has filed a lawsuit to prevent retailers from distributing
the game, scheduled to be released October 5.
Studies have shown that violent video games increase aggressive
behavior in teens. The American Psychological Association last
week called for greater oversight of the industry.
Jeff McIntyre, American Psychological Assn.:
The children no longer just passive witnesses to violence that
may happen in the media, but now they're actually becoming involved
in the scenarios, being rewarded.
Sylvester: Rockstar, in a statement, said, "Some
of our critics are only promoting stereotypes about video games
and spreading rumors about something they haven't seen. "Bully"
is still a work in progress. When it's released, we hope that
people will form their own opinions.
Those who oppose the game hope that day will never come. "Bully"
is expected to be rated M for mature audiences. But because the
video game industry is self-regulated, there is little that can
be done to keep a retailer from selling any violent video game
to a minor.
Sylvester: There is one exception. Illinois's
governor signed a bill this summer that fines retail stores caught
selling violent games to kids, but it is the only state that has
such a law, and the industry is fighting that as well -- Lou.
Dobbs: Lisa, thank you. Lisa Sylvester.
CNN, Nancy Grace
[aired 21th June, 2005 - 20:00:00 ET]
Grace: Thank you.
Everybody, we are shifting gears. Don`t worry. We`ll take you
back to Aruba tomorrow night.
You remember that video game called Grand Theft Auto? Some stores
actually refused to carry it because it was so violent? Well,
hold on to your hats. Now there`s 25 to Life, and the object is
to kill cops. That`s right. You get rewarded on this video game
if you kill cops. We called the company who`s putting this thing
out. It`s called Idos (ph). We called Idos headquarters in California.
They did not return our calls. We tried to call them in Great
Britain. No response. In earlier reports, when they were asked
to comment on this video game, they always say no comment.
Tonight, in Asheville, North Carolina, trial attorney Jack Thompson.
We`re bringing in the rest of our panel tonight. Jack, bring me
up to date. What is 25 to Life? Hey, Elizabeth, can you show me
25 to Life while Jack is talking?
And I also want to show everybody one after the next, after the
next police officers that lost their life in the line of duty!
Now, this is a video game, and you`re seeing at the bottom of
this screen, real-life cops that lost their lives trying to protect
you and me.
Jack, hit it.
Jack Thompson, Trial Attorney: Nancy,
there are three cops that are dead in Alabama because of Grand
Theft Auto by City, two cops and a dispatcher. So we know that
these cop-killing games are leading to these killings because
that`s what they are, they`re murder simulators. Xbox, of course,
which this game will be available on, along with Sony`s Playstation
2 -- you have to ask Bill Gates, What are you thinking? Here`s
a philanthropist and a powerful man, the richest man in the world,
and yet he`s making available to children around the world on
Xbox a cop-killing game.
The military, Nancy, uses these murder simulators, killing simulators...
Thompson: ... to break down the inhibition of
new recruits to kill. And therefore, of course it`ll have that
same effect on teenage civilians. So the reality is that these
games are leading to deaths, and in fact, there`s a University
of Indiana study that came out three days ago that showed that
kids process these games in the part of the brain that leads to
Grace: Incredible! Incredible! I can hardly
even focus on what you`re saying, Jack. Elizabeth, please continue
showing it because what I`m looking at is the picture of one cop
after the next, Dino Lombardi, that we are showing gunned down
in the line of duty, Dino!
Dino Lombardi, Defense Attorney: Nancy,
people kill cops. Video games don`t kill cops.
Grace: OK. You know what? I knew you`d say that.
Debra Opri, Attorney for Jackson's parents:
You know, you are really upsetting me, Nancy, because you used
the 1st Amendment to destroy Michael Jackson, and you won`t use
the 1st Amendment to protect an entertainment company. Does anybody
remember Charlie Chaplin in the early days of movies, silent movies?
He picked on cops. He attacked cops. He was such a problem to
Herbert Hoover and the FBI...
Grace: OK, you know what?
Grace: Thank you for bringing up Herbert Hoover
and Charlie Chaplin.
Opri: Can I tell you something?
Grace: When we come back, we`ll be talking about
25 to Life. You`re seeing a line-up of one cop after the next
killed in the line of duty. And this video machine is being marketed
and sold. It comes out in August on the shelves of stores in your
neighborhood. Look at this.
Grace: Well, Senator Chuck Schumer is asking
the video game 25 to Life be boycotted. It depicts street gang
violence, killing cops. This is what your kids will be digesting
if you buy this for $49.95. You`re seeing at the bottom of the
screen one law officer after the next gunned down in the line
To Bethany Marshall. You know, the U.S. Supreme Court just ruled
in 2003 -- I`ve got it right in front of me -- that video games
have nothing to do with violence. Thoughts?
Bethany Marshall, Psychotherapist:
Well, I`ll tell you what does have do with violence, strong emotional
experiences. And when those kids are gaming and they press the
button or the mouse and they actually kill somebody and there`s
an emotional charge that does rewire the brain. And another thing
that affects violence is lack of parental rules. So a question
I have with these games are, Where are the parents.
Grace: You know, Dino Lombardi, I`ve only got
one minute left. But in the last Tennessee shooting, where a kid
shot two cops and a third person, they had been watching this
Grand Theft Auto for days on end. It said life is like a video
game. And you`re still telling me this is OK?
Lombardi: Well, I`m not saying it`s OK, but
I don`t support censoring it.
GRACE: Yes, you are!
Lombardi: I`m not saying it`s OK, Nancy.
Grace: We censor porn...
Lombardi: ... and you know I`m not saying it`s
Grace: ... don`t we? We censor porn. Why would
we let there be cop- shooting videos?
Lombardi: We have movies where cops are killed,
and we have many instances of people who have killed...
Grace: But kids can get this!
Lombardi: ... who we can show they can have
watched such movies.
LombardiI: It`s not...
Grace: ... children can get this, Jack Thompson!
Lombardi: Yes. The 1st Amendment, people who
understand the 1st Amendment know does not protect the right of
a company to sell an M-rated game to a child.
Grace: Jack, Jack, I`ve...
Thompson: Children don`t have a 1st Amendment...
Grace: ... only got 20 seconds. Jack...
Grace: ... we logged on to buy Grand Theft Auto.
We didn`t buy it, but it says, If you`re under 17, click here.
That`s all it takes, Jack. Anybody can get this.
Thompson: Exactly. And there`s no penalty, except
Thompson: ... if you sell...
Thompson: ... a game like this to a child.
Grace: Guys, we`ve run out of time. I want to
thank all of my guests tonight, but my biggest thank you, as always,
to you for being with us, inviting all of us into your home.
Coming up, headlines from all around the world, Larry on CNN. I`m
Nancy Grace, signing off again for tonight. I hope to see you right
here tomorrow night, 8:00 o`clock sharp Eastern. And until then,
good night, friend.
CBS News, Gamespeak:
[posted on 25th February 2005]
[Note: There is some evidence that this interview has been edited.
Please refer to Kotaku
for further information]
CBS: What constitutes violence
in video games?
Thompson: There's no real debate over that.
Any M-rated game has violence levels unacceptable and definitionally
harmful to anyone under 17. The industry will rue the day it accepted
this labeled scheme.
CBS: What percentage of all games
made would you say are violent, based upon your previous definition
of violence in video games?
Thompson: This gets to a fundamental lie being
propagated by the video game industry.
GTA [Grand Theft Auto series] has sold 30 million units, with
San Andreas expected to hit 20 million on its own. It's the #1
seller in the world right now. That fact alone does not square
with ISA and ESRB's dodge that "the majority of games are
not violent or M-rated." What matters is how many units delivered
are violent, and to whom they are being delivered.
CBS: How many hate or violent crimes
would you say are linked to or directly related to violence in
Thompson: I have no earthly idea, and no one
can guess at that. I can tell you that some crimes would not occur
but for the violent entertainment. For the families of the deceased,
that is the only statistic that matters.
CBS: Does age or sex play a factor
in violent, aggressive behavior?
Thompson: Sure, the sex and violence centers
of the brain overlay one another, which is why the increasing
mix of sex and violence is troubling. Armies have been known to
go on rape rampages after battles because the violence stimulates
sexual aggression. How lovely that GTA weds sex and violence in
the same game. We are training a generation of teens to combine
sex with violence, just what America needs.
CBS: Is there a correlation between
playing violent video games and acting in a violent manner?
Thompson: Of course. Every parent who is paying
attention knows that it is garbage in, garbage out with kids.
The heads of six major health care organizations testified before
Congress that there are "hundreds" of studies that prove
the link. All the video game industry has are studies paid for
by them, which are geared to find the opposite result. Lawyers
call such experts "whores."
CBS: Is gaming escapism?
Thompson: Yes, just as Ted Bundy escaped into
pornography. It is not a release of aggression. It is training
CBS: Do you think the interactivity
of game violence makes it different than violence on television,
which is passive?
Thompson: Of course, as you actually grow neural
pathways called dendrites that enable you to perform more easily
the physical acts of violence. Plus, from a psychological perspective,
to act out of virtual violence in a virtual setting is far more
damaging than just viewing it. You enter into the violence, you
become the protagonist.
CBS: Different mediums, as they've
come along, have had their share of controversy. From pulp horror
and graphic novels, to movies, music and television; is this part
of a cycle?
Thompson: Yes, it is the last cycle. These are
murder simulators. Manhunt has been called the video game equivalent
of a snuff film. I am working with an Oakland, CA prosecutor in
a murder trial in which the older gang members used GTA 3 to train
teens to do carjackings and murders. The Army uses these games
to break down the inhibition to kill of new recruits.
Look at the Institute for Creative Technologies created by DOD
to create these killing games. Tax dollars paid to the industry
to create the games to suppress the inhibition to kill, and then
the industry turns around and sells these games to kids. One instance
is Pandemic Studio's Full Spectrum Warrior. If it works for soldiers,
of course it works for teens. The video game industry has absolutely
no rebuttal to that argument. NONE.
CBS: Is the self-imposed rating system for video
games enough? Is the ESRB working? What is the relevance of a
rating system for video games if the powers that be will black-list
certain games because of their graphic content?
Thompson: No, of course it's not working. Senator
Lieberman and Dr. Walsh just had their latest "Video Game
Report Card" news conference. Underage kids can buy the most
violent games half the time. I just successfully sued Best Buy
and compelled them to institute a new nationwide policy. They
will now ID anyone appearing to be 21 or younger to make sure
no one under 17 buys M-rated games. This is a huge development.
You really need to report that. It is an industry first.
CBS: How does free speech factor
Thompson: There is no right of children to buy
adult entertainment. None.
CBS: Are parents paying attention
to what their kids play?
CBS: Do you think that video games are similar
to sports? There are much-touted statistics that link aggression
levels to video game playing, but isn't that precisely what happens
in any kind of competition?
Thompson: I'm sorry, but a basketball games
goal is to score more points, not maim the other player. That
is where sportsmanship comes in. There is no sportsmanship in
any GTA game. None.
CBS: According to the Center for Child Death
Review, 1,242 kids were murdered with guns and 174 children died
from accidental firearm-related injuries in 2000. Aside from stories
that get covered in the news [like Columbine], there are few,
if any, actual statistics that show how many children's deaths
are directly linked to video games. Do the facts speak for themselves?
Or is it just that nobody is really keeping tabs?
Thompson: The federal government found that
in the school year 2003, there were 48 school killings. The year
before that there were 16, and the year before that 17. Something
is going on. I submit that the video game generation is coming
CBS: Where does the accountability lie? Are
parents responsible for their children's behavior? Society?
Thompson: There is plenty of blame to go around.
The parents must do a better job, but you know what? When we were
on 60 Minutes the Sunday after Columbine (we predicted Columbine
on NBC's Today eight days before it happened) with the parents
in Paducah, Ed Bradley asked Joe James "Isn't this a parent's
responsibility?" Joe said "Ed, I'm trying to figure
out what I did wrong. I had my daughter in school and in a pre-school
prayer meeting where she was shot and killed. If I hadn't raised
her right, she'd be alive today."
You see, the industry is selling these games to kids whose parents
are reckless. How is that Joe Jame's fault? We need to punish
the industry and the parents who are putting innocent people in
You just watch. There is going to be a Columbine-times-10 incident,
and everyone will finally get it. Either that, or some video gamer
is going to go Columbine at some video game exec's expense or
at E3, and then the industry will begin to realize that there
is no place to hide, that it has trained a nation of Manchurian
Kids took guns to school for 200 years in this country without
turning them on one another. President Clinton understood that
if we want to do something about gun violence, we need also to
look at the stimuli to use those guns. 3000 gun laws on the books.
Not a single law on the books to stop the sale of murder simulators
to kids. Idiotic.
Carl Sandberg, Lincoln's great biographer, defined freedom as
"moving easy in harness." The selfish, childish video
game industry accepts no harness. Their freedom is pure license.
They are about to pay a wicked price, and I aim to make sure they
1UP.com, Head To
[posted on 6th February 2005]
EGM: Videogames with mature content are clearly
labeled on the box. Isn't a voluntary ratings system a responsible
move by the videogame industry?
Jack Thompson: The ESRB [Entertainment Software
Rating Board] doesn't work because, as the [Federal Trade Commission]
and various private individuals and organizations have found,
retailers are not abiding by [the ratings]. They're selling these
games to kids under 17 despite the rating label. In fact, it's
a counterproductive sales tool because millions of kids want the
Mature-rated games. Rating labels that have no practical impact
are ineffectual and counterproductive. That's why another attorney
and I sued Best Buy in November of 2004, so they agreed now to
ID anyone who presents a game to a cashier and appears to be 21
years of age and under. We moved the bar four years forward, so
it is less likely kids under 17 can buy these things.
EGM: But how often do M-rated games end up in
the hands of kids in stores?
JT: Many stings have found that up to 50 percent
of kids under 17 were sold M-rated games. And with 14-year-olds,
between 70 to 80 percent of them were able to buy titles like
[Grand Theft Auto:] San Andreas. Some videogame companies don't
want retailers to abide by these ratings. It's a charade—they
say to parents and Congress, "Don't sell M-rated games to
anyone under 17," but they do. The videogame industry says
one thing and does another.
EGM: Who are you referring to, exactly?
JT: Game publishers, console manufacturers,
and retailers. They're all in cahoots with one another to have
a rating system that doesn't work. The ESRB system is not a warning
label—it's a rating label. It should say "Do not sell
this game to anyone under 17."
EGM: What are you proposing to fix this?
JT: We need a three-legged stool: education,
legislation, and my approach, which is to do the right thing.
This includes representing bereaved third parties so they can
sue those responsible for actions that have resulted in death.
Family members who miss their loved ones—this is where the
breakthrough will occur. The industry fears this, so they've all
run out and bought "copycat liability" insurance to
protect them. If they don't think this is going to happen, then
why are they buying it? This third solution is to scare the dickens
out of the videogame industry to stop marketing and selling inappropriate
games to children. My goal is to save lives.
EGM: Your attempts to compensate victims of
alleged game-related deaths have been unsuccessful so far. Why
do you think this is?
JT: Lawyers tend to be to the left of normal
people, and judges tend to be the left of the lawyers. Federal
judges tend to be the left of them. So you have a bunch of First
Amendment absolutists who block these kinds of lawsuits. State
courts, however, are far more responsive to parents. I suppose
federal judges by and large don't have a problem with mental molestation
of children with murder simulators.
EGM: You once compared Doug Lowenstein, president
of the Entertainment Software Association, to Saddam Hussein.
JT: If I did, I want to apologize to Saddam
Hussein. Doug is a propagandist to whom the facts don't matter.
He's paid to lie and he does it very well. Doug is paid a handsome
salary, probably seven figures, to say there are no studies that
indicate [violent games have] an effect on anyone. If this is
true, why is the military using them to create killing simulators?
EGM: Let's talk about this. Isn't there a difference
between training and acting out?
JT: A cyberterrorism expert has found that games
such as [THQ's] Full Spectrum Warrior, or Full Spectrum Command
as it's known in the military, is being used by al Qaeda to train
their troops. These games don't just teach skills—they break
down the inhibition to kill. We've been trained by society and our
parents not to kill another person, so the way you break that down
is to put a soldier in a VR setting, which will be far more effective
in the long run.
EGM: MIT's Henry Jenkins says many researchers
don't buy the "monkey see, monkey do" hypothesis.
JT: If Henry doesn't think education has an
effect on anyone he should stop being a professor. You can modify
behavior. The very same people like Doug [Lowenstein] who say
games can't encourage anyone to do anything are the same people
who tend to get upset about tobacco ads because they encourage
kids to smoke. So why are [mature] game advertisements shown on
TV when X percentage of kids are in the audience? This is because
ads for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas may persuade them to buy
games. And how is it that 10 hours of being immersed in violent
behavior doesn't have an effect? It's nonsense to think otherwise....
EGM: But tens of millions of these GTA games
are sold and there are very, very few reports of actual violence
associated with them. Aren't the criminals just blaming a game
as a scapegoat? Aren't other factors at play here?
JT: First of all, we don't know how many people
have acted out violently because of these games, but after I appeared
on Good Morning America, a Gallop poll found 71 percent of all
U.S teenage boys who played Vice City were twice as likely to
have been engaged in an act of violence. Also, aggressive behavior
may be expressed verbally—not everyone goes "postal"
or "Columbine." There have been dozens of studies that
show even short-term exposure of these games to teens has an effect
on violence, aggressiveness, and bad behavior that goes from bad
speech to killing people. It's a wide spectrum. Videogames can
be the final causal link in a chain of factors that can result
in a Columbine.
EGM: Shouldn't parents—not government
or game publishers—bear the responsibility to prevent that?
JT: Both government and home have shared responsibilities
here. Parents are negligent in letting kids play these games for
hours at a time, but even if we do everything right to keep a
kid away from these games, his classmates are playing them. He
could just play somewhere else. We have an aggressive industry
taking advantage of derelict parents. The whole youth culture
is immersed in this stuff.
EGM: Does your 12-year-old son play videogames?
JT: Not anything above an E [suitable for everyone]
rating. Many Teen [-rated] games should be Mature because our
society is more desensitized to violence. GTA3, which was released
five years ago, now helps other games push the envelope in violence.
The bar has been raised.
EGM: But most games aren't violent.
JT: Yes, I know Doug [Lowenstein] says most
games aren't violent, but an incredible percentage of games that
are sold are M-rated. There may be 41 Euchre games and one GTA,
but what do you think the sales are like for each? This is how
Doug uses statistics.
EGM: Do you play games?
JT: I play them to the extent that I need to
make DVD copies of the killing scenes for presentations or court.
Have I played San Andreas? Yes.
EGM: Jenkins claims youth violence has fallen
as games rise in popularity. How do you see a correlation between
virtual violence and real violence?
JT: Well, let's look at deaths in and around
schools. In 2004, there were 48 in number. In 2003, there were
16. In 2002, there were 17. Yes, the death rate in which murderous
actions have taken place has gone down, but there are other factors
such as the shortening of ambulance response time, better medical
techniques, and so forth.
EGM: So, what's next on the agenda for you?
JT: [A lawsuit regarding] a multiple loss of life
by a teenager who played Vice City. We are going to sue videogame
manufacturers, platform manufacturers, and retailers like Wal-Mart,
Circuit City, and Amazon who continue to sell adult-rated materials
to children. We're going to sue the industry for its recklessness,
for being so shortsighted. Eventually there is going to be a Columbine
to the factor of 10, a slaughter in a school by a crazed gamer.
And when that happens, when America figures out these kids were
filled up with virtual violence, Congress may ban the games altogether.
You wise guys who think you're so clever about saying what kids
ought to play and then putting [Mature] games in the hands of those
kids, you will wish you listened to me.
IGN, Manhunt Lawyer
[posted on 4th August 2004]
IGN: Hello, we were wondering if we could get some comments from
you about the recent events concerning Manhunt in England. What
is your relationship with the parents of the child at this time?
Jack Thompson: I'm representing the mother.
IGN: In England?
IGN: And so now you are going after Rockstar, Take-Two and Sony,
is that right?
Thompson: We're presently pinning the tail on
the videogame donkey. What form it will take I don't know. The
London Times reported that we filed a lawsuit. That's false. They
even made up a headline and the dollar figure (50 million pounds)
as to what we would ask for. We demanded a retraction from the
Times. The writer simply made all that up. No determination has
been made whether or not to file a lawsuit. I told the Times Mrs.
Pakeerah needs counsel as to what can be done in the Tort system.
So my purpose is to assist her in other ways. There are some
things that are in place that I'm not at liberty to talk about
that will turn up the heat tremendously on the industry. A lot's
happened over the last several days, but filing a lawsuit isn't
one of them and there hasn't been a determination to file a lawsuit.
I'm a lawyer who's a litigator and I have been for 28 years and
I said to the Times and others that just because there are nuclear
warheads just because you go to war you use them as a first resort
and suing somebody should always be the last resort. I wouldn't
necessarily favor litigation.
IGN: Is there anything that you can mention about actions that
you are taking?
Thompson: No, not besides the ones that are
obvious. No, the last thing I would do is talk to a publication
that is pro-videogame industry and tell them what our strategy
IGN: Fair enough...
Thompson: By the way, the reports that the game
belonged to the victim are false. Somebody in a gaming magazine
in Scotland or England put that out. That's false. The game belonged
to the murderer.
IGN: To the kid that killed him?
Thompson: Yeah, he left it at the house of the
victim. It wasn't the victim's, it was the killer's. There's corroboration
of that from other sources.
IGN: How did the killer get the game in the first place?
Thompson: I don't know, but he had it.
IGN: And you don't feel that there are any restrictions that
could be put upon games that would've prevented him getting it?
Thompson: I don't know, but the ones that are
in place now aren't working because the day this was on the front
page in London a kid was taken by one of the newspapers into a
store and he bought it. It's well documented here in the states
as well. The Federal Trade Commission just last month proved that
despite the promises after Columbine not to market this stuff
to kids that M-rated games are still marketed directly to some
people under-17 and despite Wal-Mart's and Target's and other
retailers' age restrictions, you can buy those games in those
stores if you're under age. The restrictions aren't working and
that's going to come back and bite the industry because they're
not serious about them.
In fact, the age restrictions really act as a marketing tool
to where kids want what they shouldn't have and they can get.
There're no restrictions on sales over the Internet. In the states
you can walk into Best Buy and buy any game regardless of your
age, no questions asked. The age restrictions are an attempt to
avoid culpability, but there's no sanctions visited by the manufacturers
on the retailers to try to make them adhere to the age restrictions.
It's a joke.
It's a subterfuge. It's a dodge, it's not intended to be effective.
It's a fig leaf that they think can cover their culpability, but
it doesn't really cover it.
IGN: In what way is the video game industry marketing M-rated
games to kids?
Thompson: They're putting ads in comic books.
IGN: Which ones?
Thompson: I don't know, I don't have them in
front of me right now, but we've heard that from law enforcement.
IGN: There are some comic books that are for mature readers as
Thompson: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City I believe
was found in Spider-Man.
IGN: How recently was this?
Thompson: I think within the last couple of
I'd say an ad I saw the other day for Full Spectrum Warrior on
World Wrestling is an ad for an M-rated game on a largely teen
watched program which the industry promised not to do. Doug Lowenstein
[president of the Entertainment Software Association] promised
that the industry after Columbine would visit sanctions upon companies
that did that. Now that they think the coast is clear, they have
no compunction about advertising thes games in those venues
IGN: I looked at your website, www.stopkill.com, and found that
you focus on video games. Why do you have this focus on games
rather than other forms of violent media like movies?
Thompson: They're interactive and therefore
far more dangerous. Military doesn't show movies to their new
recruits, they have them play killing games to suppress their
inhibition to kill.
IGN: And there have been reports that show this connection?
Thompson: Yeah, and at this point I'd like to
grab people by their lapel and set them down in a library in front
of some newspapers. It'd do them good rather than being behind
a video screen for much of the day. The heads of six major health
care organizations testified in June of 2000 before a Joint Committee
of Congress that the studies they looked at established a link
between this kind of entertainment and violence in teens. And
no one's paying off the president of the American Medical Association
to testify that way whereas when the industry gets a study they
We lawyers who do litigation call those people "whores"
and they, in effect, skew the results and do the studies to get
the results. And they're paid to do it! It's beyond belief to
suggest that the president of the AMA would make up, since he's
testifying under oath, that there are studies out there that prove
the causal nexus between this type of entertainment and this type
The FBI, after Columbine, found that in all but one of school
killing incidents, the killers were immersed in violent entertainment,
including violent videogames. And nobody's paying the FBI to make
that up either. All of this stuff I read in places like your magazine
or others that say there are no studies that suggest there's a
linkage or that they aren't reliable or so forth. People who say
that ought to be in the Flat Earth Society.
I'm a parent, and anybody's who's around kids, who's a parent
or observed kids knows that kids act out what you fill their days
and their minds with. It's common sense. It's in the education
process. Nintendo, by the way, the dumbest ad campaign in the
history of the world has decided to go with "You are what
you play" [as their motto]. Thank you very much. Exhibit
A. Every Jack Thompson and other "wacky" lawyer out
there, as so described, appreciates Nintendo's in your face ad
campaign which is irrefutable and is a gift to all of us who are
trying to make the point. You are what you play.
IGN: So what kinds of changes or reforms do you want to see from
all of this?
Thompson: I want them to stop selling, and marketing,
violent games to children. Studies out of Harvard and elsewhere
that show they have demonstrable and more deleterious effects
on kids because they process them in a different part of the brain
than adults do. If some wacked-out adult wants to spend his time
playing GTA: Vice City one has to wonder why he doesn't get a
life, but when it comes to kids it has a demonstrable impact on
their behavior and the development of the frontal lobes of their
brain. It's been proven at Harvard and Indiana University.
Children have always been a protected class of citizens when
it comes to alcohol, tobacco, driving, firearms, voting and so
forth, and movies by their ratings system. There needs to be an
across the board recognition that there's some things that kids
shouldn't fill their heads up with. I think the Pakeerah tragedy
IGN: So what about the effect of these games on adults? What
have studies shown for the results of adults playing violent games?
Thompson: I don't know. A society that doesn't
keep it out of the hands on kids probably not worth studying the
effect it has on adults. We know the effect it has on kids. We
also know that brains don't stop growing until you're about 25.
If you start playing these games, you actually have a retardative
effect upon the development of the brain if you start doing it
before you're 25. So you wind up with a wacko like Charles McCoy
who was obsessively playing shooter video games for hours. He's
the Columbus serial highway shooter. He may be the functional
equivalent of a 15 year-old.
IGN: Sorry to change the subject, but what do you feel about
the similarity between ads that tout simulated violence to kids
and Army ads that promote the possibility of killing real people?
Thompson: Well, exactly. That's why I was on
ABC World News Tonight in October of 2002 pointing out that while
the Department of Defense was trying to catch Mohammad and Malvo
they were training their replacements. I wrote about this in a
Washington Times Op-Ed that ran on July 2nd. Forget the encouragement
of violence, it's an outrage that the industry takes our taxpayer
dollars given them by the DOD and the Institute for Creative Technologies
creates for the DOD Full Spectrum Warrior and then turns around
and sells it to kids on the consumer market.
Our government is subsidizing the videogame industry. And I love
it though in a way because if it suppresses the inhibition to
kill in new recruits which is what the games are created for.
It's not to teach tactics or strategy, that's a lie. We can prove
it's a lie. If it's to suppress the inhibition to kill then how
can the industry say that's not the effect it has on teenage civilians.
It's a non-sequitor.
IGN: So you feel that the army does want these games out there
for kids to play?
Thompson: They want videogames for their new
recruits to kill and they don't care that they're going out there
to civilian teenagers. And they are, I think, very inappropriately
using the army website to teach kids that it's really cool to
kill people. I think there are problems with that on a whole lot
By the way, I love the email that I'm getting now by the hundreds
from people who want to convince me that the games have had no
effect on them that say things like "f*** you" and "I
hope you die" and so forth. That's really persuasive stuff.
They're really thoughtful, cordial people. If I point that out
to them, I'm not sure they'd get it.
IGN: I'm sure you've been getting a lot of other emails as well.
Thompson: I've been getting some encouragement
and some very specific help from some appreciated sectors too
which I'm not at liberty to tell you, but the videogame industry
will be a bit unnerved by that eventually.
IGN: What kind of contact have you received from the videogame
Thompson: None. They don't talk to me. They
don't really want to communicate about this, they just want to
make money and tell people like me to bugger off, but they don't
even bother to do that, they're just too busy making money. Plus
they're position's indefensible so they don't engage in discourse.
Rockstar won't allow anyone to go on camera with me or anybody
else. Sony won't allow anyone either. Fox News is trying to put
together a segment with me and Rockstar, but they won't do it.
They don't have a philosophical leg to stand on and they know
their products are indefensible for being sold to children and
they won't go on camera about it.
Listen, I gotta go.
IGN: All right, well, thanks for your time
Thompson: You bet.