Jack Thompson Threatens to Block Release of GTA IV
Just when you thought you’d seen it all, enter Jack Thompson stage left. What’s Jack up in arms about now?
Well, it seems the September 2007 issue of GameInformer magazine contains a little hands on experience with GTA IV. According to the article, the folks at GI were able to play the first mission of the game. This mission supposedly consists of Niko, the game’s central character, heading off to kill an attorney. Upon confronting said attorney in his office, Niko pulls a gun, and the attorney says something along the lines of, “Our firm supports the Second Amendment, and guns don’t kill people, video games do.”
Mr. Thompson takes exception to the inclusion of the aforementioned attorney in the game, as he feels that this is a threat to his personal safety. He asserts this belief in a letter to Take Two, in which he claims that the attorney in the game is actually meant to be him. A short excerpt of that letter can be found after the break.
I have this morning read with interest an article on page 80 and 81 of the September 2007 issue of Game Informer magazine which was generated when, according to its author, Rockstar Games “stopped by the Game Informer offices for an impromptu hour-long gameplay session with the Xbox 360 version of the game.”
The showcasing play of the game to Game Informer revealed that the first killing mission of the “hero” of the game, Niko, is to kill a certain lawyer. When Niko comes into this lawyer’s office, having used subterfuge to do so, Niko pulls a gun on the lawyer who says, “that the firm supports the second amendment and that ‘Guns don’t kill people. Video games do.’”
…The fact that the lawyer, killed on Niko’s first mission, would bring up video games, makes it clearly a reference to me… This is not the first time Rockstar Games and Take Two have targeted me in this fashion. Take Two references to me as a bisexual pedophile on its corporate website…
So, it appears that referencing an attorney in a game is no longer allowed, as any attorney that says video games are bad must be Jack Thompson. Apart from the appalling arrogance that such a claim entails, there is little to no way to prove such a statement. Even if we make the massive leap of faith and accept that the lawyer portrayed in the game is a parody of Mr. Thompson, there are laws protecting acts of parody from such actions.
All that aside, there’s also the little matter of the settlement agreement that Mr. Thompson signed back in April (check the post on Game Politics). In it, he agrees that he, “will not sue or threaten to sue to block sale or distribution of any game published by Take Two or its subsidiaries (i.e., Rockstar).” Anyone see the problem here?
Thompson asserts in his recent letter to Take Two that, “You have until five o’clock P.M. this Friday… to inform me that you are going to delete the above references and any other references that could reasonably be construed to be references to me in Grand Theft Auto IV and any other video games that are pending release… Now you have descended this low – using one of your games to threaten my physical safety… Failure to comply with the deadline… will result in my having to take necessary and proper means to stop release of the game which targets me personally… given the copycatting of violent games.”
Now, I may not be a lawyer, but I have a modicum of common sense, which tells me two things:
1. If Thompson sues to block the distribution of GTA IV, he’s in violation of his settlement agreement, and at the very least can expect to be held in contempt.
2. Thompson’s pet theory of people ‘copycatting video games’ is a delusion that he holds dear, but not one that has ever been proven by any research, court, or any other reputable means.
Granted, I’d enjoy watching this just for the sheer entertainment value of it, but at some point someone will have to take Jack Thompson aside, and tell him to cool it. He may have passed his psychiatric evaluation, but that won’t stop folks from believing he’s nuts if he persists.
If you’d like to read the entire transcript of Thompson’s letter to Take Two, you can find it here.
Thanks to Dennis at Game Politics!