Posted on August 20, 2007,

Jack Thompson Responds to Bioshock by Complaining to the FTC


In an astounding move that shocked the video game industry to its very core, Jack Thompson sat down. Then he wrote a letter.

Surprisingly, yes, it’s not a lawsuit. Thompson complained to the Federal Trade Commission in a written statement, damning the advertising practices of Take-Two Interactive for their upcoming game Bioshock, stating that it was atrocious that they aired commercials for the game during a time slot which suggested high numbers of viewers which were children under 17.

Here’s the excerpt of what Thompson wrote from

Take-Two… is aggressively marketing its newest Mature-rated video game to kids under 17 years of age… On this Friday’s night’s 8 pm Eastern time airing of WWE’s wrestling program “Smackdown,” there were repeated ads for Take-Two/Rockstar Game’s Mature-rated, incredibly violent BioShock…

A check of the demographics of the audience of that program reveals that teens under 17 years of age watch that program in huge numbers…

Remarkably, the video game industry is running ads for games like BioShock on teen-intensive television programs while at the same time its industry-captured “watchdog,” the ESRB, is running a self-congratulatory ad campaign to assure parents that the video game ratings system is working and that the industry can be trusted not to target their kids with these Mature-rated games. It is all a lie, as the BioShock ads prove.

This rampant fraudulent trade practice is precisely what “Big Tobacco” did with its “Joe Camel” and other teen-targeting ads, while at the same time lying to Congress that it was not marketing its adult product to kids.

It’s a good point bringing up tobacco and alcohol: products which directly and adversely affect one’s health should not be marketed to children. Unfortunately, by bringing up this issue, Thompson forgot three things.

  1. Video games do not directly and adversely affect your health.
  2. The audience of WWE’s Smackdown is not exclusively children under 17.
  3. Media created for adults is marketed during shows on all channels with varying audience ages.

If Take-Two were putting ads for Bioshock on, say, Nickelodeon during Spongebob SquarePants, he would be on to something by bringing the FTC into the issue. However, there are many adults who, for some reason, choose to watch Smackdown, and so it makes sense that Take-Two would try to reach that audience.

Jack, when you respond to this, and we know that you will, could you shed some light on this issue? Why not go after the MPAA and all the distribution companies who market R-rated films during shows like The Simpsons?

More to follow if the FTC actually responds to this forgettable complaint.

via GamePolitics

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15 Comments on Jack Thompson Responds to Bioshock by Complaining to the FTC


On August 20, 2007 at 2:33 am

“Take-Two… is aggressively marketing its newest Mature-rated video game to kids under 17 years of age… On this Friday’s night’s 8 pm Eastern time airing of WWE’s wrestling program “Smackdown,” there were repeated ads for Take-Two/Rockstar Game’s Mature-rated, incredibly violent BioShock…”

Funny thing is, Rockstar dont have a damn thing to do with this game. Can we say obsessed?


On August 20, 2007 at 2:53 am

yeah, but he’s right about take two owning rockstar and 2K games. This guys keeps shooting himself in the foot.


On August 20, 2007 at 8:18 am

1. Jack Thompson watches Smackdown?
2. Jack Thompson got to play Bioshock before it was released to the public? Otherwise, how else could he know the game is “incredibly violent”? Lucky bastard.


On August 20, 2007 at 8:40 am

This is the same type of tripe that we’ve all come to expect from Jack Thompson. Will he be consistent and complain that trailers for ‘R’ rated movies are shown during prime time programming as well? Most likely not. However, one has only to look at the movie industry to see how easily his arguments are turned on their head.

Ever wonder why the movie industry is never brought up in these debates?


On August 20, 2007 at 8:40 am

The interesting but ultimately stupid thing here is that ESRB ratings are designed to prevent those under age from BUYING the product. Considering no truly violent or disturbing imagery is used within the ads, it really shouldn’t be a problem for T2 to splash it wherever and whenever they want.

If a child saw the advert and went out to purchase the item, the responsibility of enforcing the law would lay in the hands of the seller.


On August 20, 2007 at 9:13 am

Just a thought here… Is smackdown not violent enough for Mr. Thompson ? Or is it just the ads to violent games in-between the violent wresting that bothers him ? :???:


On August 20, 2007 at 9:59 am

It would be interesting to find out how many of the over 17 “wrassling” viewers were actually gamers. Sad to see that the gaming industry has resorted to another low.

Paul G

On August 20, 2007 at 10:26 am

ARG this guy make my blood boil! So it’s perfectly fine that the “Target Audience” of under 17 is watching grown men in tights pound the living crap out of each other in a barbaric display of violence and antsocial behavior, but an ad for a game they wouldn’t be able to buy due to it’s rating is the real problem here?? How about you go to the Middle East and try to stop children from being recruited into Al Qaeda…. you know, a REAL threat to American society. F’ing moron.


On August 20, 2007 at 11:01 am

WOW Jack is at it again. If Bioshock commercial is aired during Smackdown commercials. this speaks for itself. If he is worried that its a poor time for this, he dont know what happens on smackdown. Wrestleing is more voilent, and protrays ladies not always in a good way. I would be more worried on the Smackdown show, than a timeslot for a commercial.


On August 20, 2007 at 2:10 pm

He has a point, it shouldn’t be advertised to children, but seeing as everything else is, he should be complaining about all the other ads as well.


On August 20, 2007 at 3:04 pm

Sorry weclock, but Smackdown shouldn’t be shown to the same children that shouldn’t be watching a bioshock commercial. If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander… :roll:


On August 20, 2007 at 3:10 pm

OK, I didn’t want to be the one to say it again, but since no one else has….

If the parents of these kids are ok with them watching Smackdown, I wonder if the same parents would buy an M rated game for their child? If so, do you think these parents have talked with their children about games?

My money is that they would buy the game for their kids, and they don’t talk to them about the games they play. The biggest responsibility for what games kids play lies with the individual parent. No government regulation, or rating system, or anything else is going to change that simple fact.

Until the anti-game crusaders realize that the issue is not the games, but the parents who buy them for young kids, we’ll never get anywhere in these arguments.

NOTE: All the laws in the world don’t prevent a parent from buying Manhunt for their 10 year old. GET IT?!?!?


On August 20, 2007 at 3:16 pm

Amen to that Ron.
I just guess my sarcasm wasn’t obvious enough this time.


On August 22, 2007 at 6:11 am

Because there’s no money to be had in that. Duh!
Seriously, that’s all he’s in it for is the money. Any opportunity he can find to rally people behind him so he can sue a company is one he’s going to take. You say he’s not suing anyone on this one. Nope… Not yet. Wouldn’t surprise me though if through inaction on the FTC’s part gave him a good enough excuse to say “UR DAMAGING AMERCAS VALYOOS!!!11oneone”.
On a side-note, I find it extremely hilarious on how he comments on the game being too violent for kids, while ignoring the fact that all these kids are watching FREAKING WRESTLING, which is not only violent but doesn’t require any age validation for them to access it.

havoc of smeg

On October 9, 2007 at 6:36 am

dear lord! he is full of s%$t :mad: .
is complaining about gaming he’s version of sex or something? cos apparently, he ENJOYS it. sadact!