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 Gamepolitics.com:
Take-Twoâ€¦ is aggressively marketing its newest Mature-rated video game to kids under 17 years of ageâ€¦ On this Fridayâ€™s nightâ€™s 8 pm Eastern time airing of WWEâ€™s wrestling program â€œSmackdown,â€ there were repeated ads for Take-Two/Rockstar Gameâ€™s Mature-rated, incredibly violent BioShockâ€¦
A check of the demographics of the audience of that program reveals that teens under 17 years of age watch that program in huge numbersâ€¦
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 â€œwatchdog,â€ 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 â€œBig Tobaccoâ€ did with its â€œJoe Camelâ€ 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.
- Video games do not directly and adversely affect your health.
- The audience of WWE’s Smackdown is not exclusively children under 17.
- 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.