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Here you will find various transcripts from TV interviews and discussions with Jack Thompson.

Table of Contents

  1. CNN, Lou Dobbs Tonight
  2. CNN, Nancy Grace
  3. CBS News, GameSpeak: Jack Thompson
  4. 1UP.com, Head to Head
  5. IGN, Manhunt Lawyer Speaks

CNN, Lou Dobbs Tonight

[aired 24th August 2005 - 18:00 ET]

[source:CNN]

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.

(begin videotape)

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 Theft Auto."

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 bully.

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.

(end videotape)

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]

[source: CNN]

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...

Grace: Oh!

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 copycatting.

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?

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?

(crosstalk)

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.

(commercial break)

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 of duty.

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 OK.

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.

Grace: Jack...

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...

Thompson: Yes?

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 in Illinois...

Grace: Boy!

Thompson: ... if you sell...

Grace: OK.

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: Jack Thompson

[posted on 25th February 2005]

[source: CBS News]

[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 video games?

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 for aggression.

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 in?

Thompson: There is no right of children to buy adult entertainment. None.

CBS: Are parents paying attention to what their kids play?

Thompson: Nope.

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 of age.

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 harm's way.

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 Children.

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 pay it.

1UP.com, Head To Head

[posted on 6th February 2005]

[source: 1UP.com]

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 Speaks

[posted on 4th August 2004]

[source: IGN]

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?

Thompson: Yes.

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 was.

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 well.

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 months.

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 commission people.

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 of violence.

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 underscores that.

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 of levels.

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 industry itself?

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.




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