Thompson offers olive branch to ESA, ESRB

Antigame activist suggests compromise with game industry which he says will eliminate the need for legislation and legal battles.

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In the past, Florida attorney Jack Thompson has shown little interest in compromising when it comes to his efforts to keep violent games from being made, released, or sold to minors. Today, however, the controversial lawyer appears to be willing to bury the hatchet with the industry, and has proposed an agreement that he said would put an end to his efforts to have laws passed regulating the industry.

In a letter addressed to outgoing Entertainment Software Association president Doug Lowenstein and Entertainment Software Rating Board president Patricia Vance (and forwarded to GameSpot), Thompson suggested that the industry simply tell retailers that if they sell games rated M for Mature to minors, publishers won't ship them games to sell in the first place.

"All that is needed for the industry to get federal and state governments and activists like me off your back is to craft a written industry policy whereby all ESA members direct retailers to stop selling Mature-rated games to anyone under 17," Thompson wrote. "By private agreement rather than by legislation, if such sales occur, upon a factual showing on a case by case basis, then escalating commercial sanctions will be visited upon the offending retailer(s) by all ESRB members."

In his letter, Thompson notes that such an approach hasn't been tried before, but that it would "avoid the need for any future legislation or fights over legislation."

"It's your choice," Thompson wrote. "Let's get this done before it is too late for you all to avoid the legislation that nobody should want but which will, by necessity, come."

Thompson hasn't declared a cease fire as he waits for the industry's response, however. In his letter, he claimed to have helped an Eastern US state draft a new gaming bill just last week. While a Louisiana bill Thompson helped draft was recently overturned, he said this time it would be different, "because these people, unlike in Louisiana, know what they are doing and are prepared to prove to the court, unlike in Louisiana, that these games are harmful."

A representative with the ESA has not returned GameSpot's request for comment on the proposal, while an ESRB representative declined to comment.

Discussion

571 comments
sc0tt10
sc0tt10

CNN is more violent than video games.Thompson is either mentally unstable or incredibly misguided

MasterAsh42
MasterAsh42

I like how the first five paragraphs made me believe such an offer couldn't have possibly come from the Thompson we've come to know, then the second-to-last one reveals he's as ornery as ever. Still, whether he'd hold true to his side of the "bargain" (really, it's not as if he's been effective anyway) or not, his suggestion sounds great. This industry has long trumpeted its ability to self-regulate, and a measure such as this would make a great step forward in continuing to do so.

Ek-Andy
Ek-Andy

He made a very agresive statement agaisnt the Lousiana state officials, stating that they were unskilled in their own profesion. Mabye he should look at his own failings rather than that of others. And what sort of job is a "games lawyer"?

xatman911
xatman911

Terrorist should target them instead of innocent people. I am sick and tired of anti gamers. You dont like playing games than dont play it, atleast dont try to make it worse for others. People say humans are getting more freedom in 21st century. I say they are just gettting more rules...

hellsfire007
hellsfire007

Video games causing violence. Still on this eh Jack? The ployus of a desperate man who knows that he is beaten. Thank god and the american people for seeing thorugh his lies. Heres some violence for you Jack that still was not caused by video games. I hipoe that scumbags like you get gunned down on the subway to work. I really do. Jerks like him don't contribute anythig to society other than to force their views down other peoples throats. Hes the end of democracy and freedom in my eyes and I'm happy that he lost his license to be a lawyer. Once again jack I hiopwe you get cancer and die.

airboygt
airboygt

Man this guy is really grabbing at straws, maybe he can see that despite all of his hoopla and uproar nobody in the legal community takes him seriously. As for his "compromise", I'd tell him where he could shove it and how fast to spin it once its firmly inserted. Just the logistical problems incurred by trying to enforce something so absurd would be cost prohibitive to a publisher; and in the end its the "P-A-R-E-N-T-S" job to monitor their children, not everyone else.

theKSMM
theKSMM

I don't know why Jack Thompson is dumping on Louisiana. Sure, our state officials were stupid for following him into this battle, but it wasn't because of them that he couldn't get the job done.

spock224
spock224

dude this guy really pisses me off. just the idea of tryin to ban a video game is unconstitutional. freedom for teh pursuit of happiness. when has a VIDEO GAME hurt anyone. the news is more violent than some games that he wants to ban. but of course the news hes okay with because the news is so righteous. i dont believe this bill will be aproved anywhere. and all he is doing is threatening gamers and the companys and organizations that deal with gamers. i love how he insults lousiana after they reject his bill. i dont even live in the place that theyre going to pass the bill and i am still passionete to see this man stopped. i believe that men like mr thompson are who are going to end freedom and democracy. there are far better things to fight about. maybe if he acutally put all that energy to something usefull like... oh i dont know.... maybe solving an actual problem! something might happen. there are far worse things than video games. im more afraid of clowns than i am of a physco who plays battlefield 2 a lot. you cannot learn to shoot using any game and he knows that but he just wants attention. i sure hope jack reads this because i think ive covered every reason he wrong. but then again im just one guy and im sure someone else could think a few more...

DemonoftheAbyss
DemonoftheAbyss

i agree with big red button. every store that i have been in doesnt sell them to minors. this guy is an idiot. its not the freakin companies that sell em to minors, its the parents that give em to them. u would think someone making such an impotent statement would first research it

Max_Hydrogen
Max_Hydrogen

Looks like Jack knows he is losing. That's what happens when you try to force unjust fascists bullsh*t upon the world. Why doesn't he write his proposal down on a cardboard sign and hold it up in court? Oh wait, he tried that already. What bothers me about this fool is his tone. Saying that he will inevitably win and acting like he has already. He probably spent his entire life lusting after glory (like Hilary Clinton) and thought going after video games was s sure way to obtain it i.e. your kids are in danger! What an empty, shallow and despicable old man.

Big_Red_Button
Big_Red_Button

What he means Bateri, is that the companies that make these games won't DISTRIBUTE them to stores that won't sell them to minors. What's ironic is that gaming retailers don't actually sell these games to minors (or at least any one I've been in).

Bateri
Bateri

So EA and Rockstar and Sony and Microsoft all go out and sell these games themselves? No seperate stores involved? Oh wait, thats right, other stores like Gamestop and EB Games and Best Buy and FYE and CompUSA and Target/Walmart/K-Mart sell those games. My bad. Tell me again why there are people that actually listen to a crazed lunatic who lost his license to be a lawyer? And what is his huge grudge against violent video games? Did Syphon Filter pop out of his PSP and kill his kid or something? I don't get it.

AceCometh
AceCometh

This is obviously a last ditch effort on Thompson's part. He's fought the game industry, the ESA and retailers all to the same end. Failure. This is a desperate act by a desperate man to try and gain a foothold in the industry and attept to spread his waning influence. Most retailers don't allow the sale of M-rated games to minors anyway. This proposed truce is pointless and a waist of everyone's time. You're old, Jack. It's time to retire.

gronix
gronix

I've never understood why Thompson goes after game developers and publishers. Shouldn't he really be attacking game retailers? It's essentially the same system as movie studios and movie theaters. Few poeple attack movie studios and say, "We must ban this R- or NC-17-rated film! Children might be let into a movie theater to see these films clearly labeled for those over seventeen!" Anyone who's gone to a movie theater to see an R movie or above knows that if one looks young, he or she will be carded. If you're under 17, you won't be sold a ticket to an R or NC-17 movie. Of course, that scenario depends on the movie theater, but that's the point. It's up to the THEATER, not the studios, to enforce the flm rating system. Similarly, game developers shouldn't be attacked for making games with mature themes. It must be up to the game RETAILERS to enforce a rating. What's absurd is that Jack Thompson makes it seem like the only gamers are children and teenagers. According to the ESA website itself--the board that rates all the games--the average game buyer is 40 (not surprising because parents buy games for their kids all the time), but the average gamer is 33!

Thompson paints the game developing/publishing industry as being these pied pipers luring children to thoughts of sex, drugs and violence. Sure, kids might be influenced by mature-themed video games if they play them (just as they might be influenced by TV, film, friends, family, teachers, bullies, something they saw at the mall, etc.), but it's hardly likely that developers' intent is to corrupt children to make a buck. It's more likely that they simply know their demographic and know that that demographic is old enough to pay for and play their games.

Mono
Mono

I find it odd that this guy passes gas and gamespot posts it as news. Not like his plan is all that terrible but I'm just so sick of hearing about this guy. He's a non-issue I'm sure he knows it.

g_hart
g_hart

Is there nothing in the ENTIRE WORLD left for Congress to do other than b**** about video games and steroids in baseball?

blitzinger123
blitzinger123

This guy has no life. Someone please put him out of his misery....better yet, put him out of our misery

macenthe
macenthe

While this sounds perfectly reasonable and doable the problem will still persist. From personal experience, having worked at an EB for a year, parents generally purchase the game and pass it on to their child. It's rare when a child themselves puts the money down for an M-rated game themselves. The sub-text of Thompson's campaign is that he thinks kids shouldn't be playing any M-rated game. The thing that no one ever talks about is that parents are buying the games and giving it to their kids. No amount of federal or self enforced policy will prevent the 15 year old whining to their parents to buy a game.

Jobe316
Jobe316

While I see nothing realy wrong with what he's asking in this proposle, it just shows me that hes losing the battle big time and is trying to get something out of what could be nothing.

sanjt
sanjt

i think passing this law won't do any harm, and maybe doing this will finally get Jack to piss off.

racerx737
racerx737

I have to agree at least partially with mitsman in the fact that it's not video games that mess those violent kids up, it's their home environment and how they are treated from the time they are very young. I've killed plenty of "people" and other creatures in video games and done what might be considered horrific things by some in video games and I've never even been in a physical fight, I've only rarely shot a gun and then only for recreational target practice, and I've certainly never gone on a real-life killing spree. The people in power need to focus on the real issue - violence, neglect, and mistreatment in the home instead of focusing on the entertainment that might have given some of the already violent kids an idea for which to carry out their violent plans.

freakykidd
freakykidd

**** me is this really Jack? I have to say, this was compleatly unexpected from him...

gabwa007
gabwa007

OMG what s wrong with these people ! XD And for all the minors, if this ever passes, just order teh M games online :p .

tachikata
tachikata

it's must take an amazing amount of balls to believe he speaks for all state legistlatures, and congress. In all honesty i'd like to see some figures on how many minors are able to purchase M games without the knowledge/money/conesnt of their parents.

bret76c
bret76c

Compromise lol the article says that he is still sure that his legislation will be passed anyway then why is he compromising at all? why not just continue forward with his pathetic little crusade, and get what he wants instead of compromising? The reason hes compromising is because he has doubt that his legislation will be passed at all,hes getting desperate.

FatherTimex
FatherTimex

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

jazilla
jazilla

I want to see Jack shift his interest to Movie legislation and see how he fares there. In a free country you can't just tell people how to run their lives. Everyone has a choice to make, and most of you are making bad choices. Me included.

barinelg
barinelg

Only thing I want to see is stores having a little stricter policy on the sales of M games. It gets the parents involved in the decision of what games kids can play, which the lack of this attention has been an issue lately. Everything else Thompson yells about is just annoying.

General_Lee45
General_Lee45

This is always the case one person does something dumb and the rest of us people who know what is wrong and what is right have to suffer for it! Man Ain't it the truth!

eanbowman
eanbowman

I agree with the opinion that it is the parent's own responsibility to be a part of their child's life if they want to ensure their children are shielded from negative influences. Parents should do thier job or shut up. I'm sure Jack Thompson thinks he's doing society a favor, but with this much opposition one would think he'd have realized his error by now. Ah well... I find it not that big of a deal if sanctions are put on businesses that sell restricted games to minors. If your parents want you playing it, they'll buy it for you. You really shouldn't be allowed to sneak it into your home. It's obviously a touchy issue, but total government control of the industry isn't the answer, obviously.

Ol_skool_Gamer
Ol_skool_Gamer

Jack Thompson should burn. Not because of the fact that he is trying to regulate the gaming industry, but that he is trying to force his moral standards upon the rest of society. Human beings are all granted some measure of intelligence, and everyone has their own ethics and "do's" and "don'ts". No parent needs to be told what games their kids can play, it is up to themselves. And still the attention-***** Thompson speaks as if it is a fact that everyone under the age of 17 is hurt by playing CS. This is still not proven at all. I hate that man and all he stands for. May his armpits be haunted by the fleas of a thousand camels.

chineolee
chineolee

I remember asking one of my parents to buy me the VHS of Robocop when I was 13, and they didn't blink an eye-lid. Insignifant by today's standards maybe, but the consequences of parents deferring responsibility on these matters, which are increasingly seen as important social issues by politicians, will be that the state will just exert more control over people's lives by doing their parenting for them.

Codemonkee
Codemonkee

Dear lord, WHAT HAS THE WORD COME TOO!!! is it me, or does jack Thompson suddenly sound somewat sane and not like the raving lunatic we love to bash. Have to agree with a few of the writers here, There's only so much the industry can do to keep these games out of kids hands. I've seen to many parents who think video games are all toys for kids, and that stopped being the case with the PS1. I'm a gamer and a parent, I love Gears of War, CounterStrike and Rainbow 6 but there's no way I would let my son play or even see these games. I noticed several times being in a game retailer and seeing young kids and their parents shopping for games and the parents pay no attention to what they are getting ready to buy for their kids, and the clerks behind the counter don't really care either. Usually if I see something like this I'll try to point out to parents the rating system and most of the time they are oblivious. Jack may be right in getting the industry to turn up the heat on retailers, but that won't solve the problem.

MilesTormani
MilesTormani

Here's an interesting thought. Aren't EB Games and the like doing that anyway?

Safety05
Safety05

That doesn't seem to be much of a compromise. If I'm reading this right then its saying that if a shop sells a M game to a minor then publishers won't ship M games to that store anymore. I don't know of a single store that hasn't sold a game to a minor (intentionally, or otherwise).

Dualmask
Dualmask

The funny thing is, he's trying to compromise with the game industry about these lawsuits he keeps bringing up but...he never wins his lawsuits. So why should the industry compromise with him? Although, honestly, games rated M should not be sold to minors. However, that doesn't mean that a parent won't buy an M-rated game for their 12 year old anyway. Like someone else suggested, it's not games that's the problem, it's the home environment. Once I made the mistake of playing GTA:SA with my daughter on my lap, who was two at the time and getitng used to talking. When she told me to shut the f##k up, I realized how influential games can be on an impressionable mind. So as a parent I don't bring games of that nature into my home anymore. So I agree that M-rated, violent games can have some influence, but as a responsible parent I just make the conscious choice to keep that kind of material away from my kids. Not everyone makes that choice, but it's not the game industry's fault.

mitsman
mitsman

Stupid stuff like this happen everywhere... A few years ago (2002), the government in Greece was trying to control illegal gambling and passed a law that included computer games in the same league as slot machines etc!!! Two net-cafe owners were actually arested for "allowing" kids to play CounterStrike...!!! The law actually said that there could be no playing video games anywhere, not in netcafes, not even in our homes, but only the former would be subject to investigation and prosecution. Of course everybody realized how ridiculous this was, and the law was withdrawn shortly later, but this just proves that people cannot decide about totally new situations based on archaic standards. You need to have at least played a few games if you want to pass judgement on this issue. Did I read correctly that Jack Thompson used his son just to prove a point? And if I remember correctly, he is supported by Hillary Clinton, who has similar views on gaming. Well, between using his son to get himself known and using her husband to get into the Senate, they are going to make a perfect little society aren't they? I have been on a digital killing spree since I started playing games. Shinobi, Doom, Mortal Kombat, House Of The Dead... Do you want to know something weird? In real life I have never beat anyone sensless or shot anyone, and the same goes for my friends. Games are not to blame for the behavior of children. Their family is. Children's behavior is usually respective to the environment they grow up in. Jack and Hillary: start working on domestic violence and all the crap shown on TV every day. This is harder that burning games on the stake, but it's also what you have to do if you actually want to steer tomorrow's generation to the right course.

chineolee
chineolee

What thompson is suggesting is analogous to the alcohol regulations in the uk, in that if a supermarket gets caught selling alcohol to minors, the police can take away their license. Ultimately kids who want to get hold of these games despite being under age will find a way - as is the case with booze. You'll never curb it entirely. Violent games reflect the world we live in. If more energy was put in to tackling real social issues such as poverty, social exclusion, education and gun legilsation then there would be fewer mal-adjusted individuals going around shooting and stabbing and stealing.

Irve
Irve

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. I state again, here in the UK games are rated by the BBFC in the same way as films ... if you sell the game to people underage then your liable under trading standards. The only people against this sort of thing either are under age and want to play GTA or are retailers who want to sell as many units as possible. it's a damn sight better than games being taken off the shelves ... i want to live in a world where my daughter can play Barbie's ice kingdom and i can play the hot coffee version of GTA.

360guy
360guy

What does this guy want? if this is approved theres gonna be a big strike, its not the stores to be blamed or the game its the damn person themselves! Why do others have to lose gaming just cause someother guy did some bad stuff that was his fault anyway!?

the_9th_wonder
the_9th_wonder

This is why the south will never rise again... Last week I got carded while buying a copy of MGS Portable Ops... and I'm 27 years old! The system works if gears in the machine all do what they're supposed to do... Thompson's an idiot. And we all know idiots never go away. Prez Bush, anyone?

JHG6784
JHG6784

LOL about the north east states more like most of the judges are place by the politicians up here so they are just yes men for those state governments. He should have just been blunt and say “hey I’m going to exploit the ultra corrupt states in the union.”

igl
igl

He is in the news. Goal achieved.

headhunter16
headhunter16

Right on gringbot agree with you one hundred percent jack is just an ahole who must have got abused as a kid

gringbot
gringbot

gosh dilly darnit.... the regulation should come from the parents, NOT THE STORES!!! i would probably drop a duece in the middle of gamestop if i found out that i couldnt buy "gears of war" (etc) simply cause someone sold it to a little child, who btw has probably already seen and heard everything thats bloody/gorey on the planet. i mean get real seriously. i love when parents remove the blame off of them and onto the stores. this society is backwards, im sry. the BEST part is that this jacknut shows no evidence that supports his ideas that rated M games are harmful to our youth. we've seen it all before, w/ gangster rap, to metal, to everything else. bad images and sounds dont make bad people, BAD PEOPLE DO!!!

KensTheNinja
KensTheNinja

Say the ESRB and the ESA agree to Thompson's olive branch. Say Thompson then sends his underage son into a local Gamestop by himself to try to purchase an M rated game (as he's done with his son in other instances). Say his son succeeds. Thompson to the ESA/ESRB: Based on our agreement, you have to stop shipping X game to X store. ESA/ESRB: No. Thompson: *LAWSUIT!* Game players everywhere: It's never going to end, is it? Thompson: NOPE! lolz!

Tenabrea
Tenabrea

time was when idiot troublemakers like this Mr. Thompson would be taken out somplace and have the sence beaten into them. i'm not saying that killing or harming Thompson would solve anything, but at least those who wish children not to be allowed to purchase mature rated games would have somebody reasonable, and sensible as their representative. Mr. Thompson cannot even formulate a coherent argument to support his case, and was SHUNNED by one of the institutes who's reasearch he quoted constantly [the institute of the american family or something like that, sent him a letter demanding he 'cease and desist all association of the institute and it's research' in his statements and argumrnts]. i don't think children should be able to purchase M rated games without their parents permission, but thompson's such an annoyance that i'd be willing to fight against him just to shut the guy up. who the hell is this man to tell other parents how to raise their children?! the fact that he's a neo-Christian asside, this man has taken it uppon himslef to ALLEVIATE parental responsibility in the matter! PARENTS are responsible for their children. period. if parents allow their children to play games such as GTA, HALO, F.E.A.R., Gears of War, or any other violent or explicit game, then that's their business, or their failure as parents. R rated Movies are constantly supplied to minors in my town. the same as M rated games. i don't think it's a good idea to do that, and on that note i am with Mr. Thompson. however, responsibility for the sale or rental of such material to minors MUST be firmly over 2 persons: the salesperson of the store, and the parents. Mr. thompson simply misses the fact that all evidence of horrendous acts of violence and lunacy by young people in recent years is not the movies they watch, the games they play, or the music they listen to; it's failure by the children's parents to talk with, and provide guidance for, their children. Marilyn Manson was not to blame for a school shooting. Movies are not to blame for any school shooting. Vidoe games are NOT TO BALME for any stupid children's insane acts. UnrealPro has the right idea here as well i beleive. can the iundustry not sue this ass for harrassment, slander, etc? and if not the industry, then how about the company he's badgered most: Rockstar Games? how about Mr. Lowenstein Sues Thompson for slander for comparing him to Sadam Husein??

Yasihiko
Yasihiko

Can't we just ignore him? Just treat him like a Bully and then no one will care about him.