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Video Game Cases – Other Cases

For certain games, Jack Thompson's commentary is quite limited. In this section we have collected his words about these games into one location. At this time, this includes "The Warriors" (unreleased), "25 to Life" (unreleased), and "Manhunt".

Table Of Contents

  1. 25 To Life
  2. Manhunt
  3. The Warriors

25 To Life

25 to Life is currently under development by Avalanche Software and will be published by Eidos Interactive, well known for their Tomb Raider series. Eidos describe the game's content as the following:

The story unfolds through the eyes of Detective Lester Williams of the local Police Department and Andre "Freeze" Francis, the street "lieutenant" of the 22nd St D-Boys, a well established street gang whose greedy philosophy keeps their enemies in fear. Their gritty journeys are conveyed through four intertwined chronicles that culminate into true life lessons.

Freeze, a young twenty-something hustler is trying hard to get out the game, stay down with his lifelong crew and avoid his third strike. But when Calderon, Freeze's lifetime homeboy, double crosses him on the last Job; it forces Freeze to get revenge, save his only son from a life of crime and survive a series of deadly shootouts. Along the way, Freeze faces-off with Detective Williams and his deadly partner, Maria Mendoza. Freeze must also step to a legion of haters out to kill him...

[source: Gamespot]

Shortly after New York Senator Charles Schumer called upon retailers to boycott to sale of 25 to Life [1], Thompson spoke against 25 to Life and other games on CNN's Nancy Grace:

Nancy: 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.

[...]

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...

Lombardi: 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...

[source: CNN]

[Archive]

Jack Neri, creative director at Highway 1 defended the game:

Jake Neri, creative director for game developer Highway 1, said they decided to go with the police theme in an attempt at avoiding the typical military and Western themes that such games usually tap. The team worked with a police officer to capture some of the flavor of being a cop and work it into the game.

[...]

Neri said the Highway 1 team was caught off-guard by Schumer's attack on the game. "It seemed to come out of the blue," he said.

"While 25 to Life does let you kill cops, it's certainly not the first game to do so, and this game will also let you be a cop," Neri said.

The team gave the gamers who play cops the ability to arrest, not just kill. Arresting a player who is on the side of crime takes them out of action for longer than shooting them, Neri said.

The game's cops also have an assortment of less-than-lethal weapons to use, including tear gas, police batons and a Taser knockoff.

"This isn't a gratuitous cop-killer game," Neri said. "Our premise is, 'Be the law, break the law.' "

"We understand that there is some sensitivity to the game, but I truly believe 25 to Life is absolutely in the standards and boundaries set by today's media."

[source: Rocky Mountain News]

Links:

Manhunt

Manhunt is a M-rated gamed developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. Rockstar Games describe the game's content as the following:

They just killed Cash. Now, they want to kill him again.

America is full of run down, broken rust-belt towns where nobody cares and anything goes. In Carcer City, nothing matters anymore and all that's left are cheap thrills. The ultimate rush is the power to grant life and take it away, for sport. This time James Earl Cash, you are the sport. They gave you your life back. Now, they are going to hunt you down.

You awake to the sound of your own panicked breath. You must run, hide and fight to survive. If you can stay alive long enough, you may find out who did this to you.

This is a brutal blood sport.

[source: Gamespot]

Three months after Manhunt was released, the game was blamed for the murder of Stefan Pakeerah (14) by Warren LeBlanc (17) in the UK [1]. Even though the police denied any links between the game and the murder, several major game retailers withdrew the game from the shelves [2].

Several newspapers reported that Thompson represents the victim's family in their attempt to sue Rockstar,Take Two and Sony, but Thompson contradicts these claims:

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.

[source: IGN]

[Archive]

Thompson then claims that there is direct link between youth violence and violent games:

But US-based lawyer Jack Thompson, a leading campaigner against the sale of violent games, is set to take up the fight having been contacted by Mrs Pakeerah.

He is convinced of the direct link between increasing numbers of killings by teenagers and games like Manhunt.

Mr Thompson told BBC News Online: "It encourages you to enter into the notion that acting in this way is appropriate.

"This is the problem with interactive violence - you enter into it as a participant much more than in a movie theatre."

He said neurological studies showed teenagers' brains processed stimuli from games differently to those of adults.

"These types of games are basically murder simulators. There are people being killed over here almost on a daily basis."

[source: BBC News]

It seems, that the circumstances of the murder were often falsely reported:

"The video game was not found in Warren LeBlanc's room, it was found in Stefan Pakeerah's room," the spokesperson said today. "Leicestershire Constabulary stands by its response that police investigations did not uncover any connections to the video game, the motive for the incident was robbery."

While it's still entirely plausible that LeBlanc was obsessed with the game, as he and Pakeerah were friends, this new information does raise questions about how the 14-year-old Pakeerah was able to obtain a copy of the 18-rated game; and also about the conduct of the British media in reporting on the story.

The tabloid press, in particular the extremist right-wing Daily Mail newspaper, have already been heavily criticised for ignoring the police reports and prosecution statements which gave the motive for the murder as robbery, with LeBlanc killing his younger friend in order to pay back a drugs-related debt. Few tabloid stories made any mention of the drugs angle.

[source: GamesIndustry.biz]
Links:

The Warriors

The Warriors is a game based on the movie of the same name. The Warriors is currently under development by Rockstar Toronto. The Publisher, Rockstar Games, describe the game's content as the following:

New York, 1979.

A battle on the streets. The armies of the night number 60,000 strong, and tonight they're all after The Warriors – a street gang wrongly accused of killing a rival gang leader.

The Warriors must make their way from one end of New York to their turf on the other side of the city. All that stands between The Warriors and their survival are 20 miles and thousands of street gang members.

The army of gangs owns the streets and there's no turning back. They must fight for their lives and learn the meaning of loyalty as danger and uncertainty emerge from the city night.

[source: Rockstar Games]

In a letter to Patricia Vance, President of the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), Thompson accuses the ESRB of applying double standards for games advertisement and urges her to to rate the game AO. He also compares Doug Lowenstein, President of the ESA (Entertainment Software Association), to Judas.

[posted on 25th August 2005]

Patricia Vance
President
Entertainment Software Rating Board
317 Madison Avenue, 22nd Floor
New York, NY 10017 Fax: 212-759-2223

Re: The Warriors to be Released by Take-Two/Rockstar October 12, 2005

Dear Ms. Vance:

[…] Your own ESRB/ARC guideline is this: "No advertisement should contain any content that is likely to cause serious or widespread offense to the average consumer." You can read all about it at www.gamepolitics.com.

Well, the ESRB needs to be consistent, Ms. Vance. Currently, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., is running incredibly violent trailers for its October 12-release game The Warriors that are clearly violative of the above-note ESRB/ARC rule. I have sent you the trailers. The trailers reflect a game that eclipses the violence level even of Take-Two/Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto games.

Why the discrepancy, the double standard, Ms. Vance, when it comes to Take-Two Interactive? Well, well, well. It turns out that Take-Two, of course, is a “Member” of your sister organization, the Entertainment Software Association whose President, Doug Lowenstein, throws money at politicians who get out of line on the video game issue. The money he throws at them comes from ESA “Members.” The “Members,” which include Sony and Microsoft, pay ESA and Doug Lowenstein to throw their weight and their money around. It is a scheme as old as the payment of a bag of silver to Judas Iscariot, only the ones being betrayed here are children. Jesus said, by the way: “If any of you should cause one of these little ones to stumble, then it would be better for you that a millstone be tied around your neck and that you be cast into the sea.”

Atlus U.S.A. is not a “Member” of the ESA and thus does not have “the juice” that Take-Two has, despite Take-Two/Rockstar’s having been, in the last several weeks, nailed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for $8.75 million for “fraudulent accounting practices” and by Senator Clinton, by the US House of Representatives, and by others, including the undersigned, for illegally placing sex scenes in GTA: SA and then lying about it.

[…]

Do your job, Ms. Vance. Tell Take-Two to pull down its public domain trailers for The Warriors. They violate your ESRB/ARC rules.

Oh, and the trailers prove the game has to be rated “AO,” not “M.” Be careful, Ms. Vance. I and others are monitoring you at a point in time that the ESRB is hanging onto its existence by a frayed controller wire.

Regards, Jack Thompson

[source: Gamepolitics]

[Archive]



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