Monday, September 17, 2007

Thompson Tactics

Video Game legislation. That single phrase has to be one of the most dim-witted phrases to ever make its way into politics.

Let me be straight with you. Video Games should not be regulated and/or controlled --Any way, shape or form-- by any government entity. Given there should be rules as to what minors should be aloud to get there greasy little fingers on, and that is what the ESRB is for.

Before I delve my way into to much detail, I would like to explain to you a few things.

1. Video games come in all flavors; Everyone (E), Teen (T), Mature (M), and even Adult Only (AO).
2. The Electronic Rating Software Board (ESRB) is responsible for giving these video games their rating so parents can make the appropriate decision when buying a video game for their Child, and retailers know who can buy what.
3. If a retail store sells an M rated (17 and older) game to someone under 17, then that retailer is the one at fault and NOT the company that made the video game.

ESRB is a sustained entity within the industry that rates their games for Retailers.

The way this works is ESRB gets a script of the game, and goes over the content to decide on the proper rating to label the game with (E, T, M, or AO), so the Retailer can sell the games appropriately.

When I say, so the Retailer can sell the games appropriately I mean it is the Retailers responsibility to keep minors from buying a game that is rated M.

Now, I'm sure you are bit confused with what I'm getting at here, so to make you understand, I would like to introduce you to a man named Jack Thompson. Jack Thompson is infamous to the gaming industry. If you follow Current Events in the Industry, you will see his name pop up quite frequently.

Jack Thompson is anti-video game. He believes that they are responsible for such events as Columbine, and the Virginia Tech shootings. According to Mr. Thompson, these very sad and tragic events were caused by Massacre Simulation Training Programs disguised as a simple video game. Yes, he did say such a thing, and yes, if you have common sense, you should be scratching your head asking WTF.

I've been following Jack Thompson for awhile, only because he happens to pop up all over the place, and if you do know anything about him, you know that the Company Take Two Interactive is Jackie boy's number one enemy. Between the game Bully, which Thompson wanted declared a "Public Nuisance" and banned from Florida, and the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas mod Hot Coffee, and Jack's recent venture against Manhunt 2, it's safe to say that Jack and Take Two don't like each other so much. Take Two even has a settlement with Jack, stating that he would not threaten to sue to block sales, and will not communicate or accuse Take Two or anyone they are doing business with, and finally, Jack is to contact Take Two through their attorneys.

Jack has already failed, and I don't know why Take Two hasn't brought a suit against him for breaking the settlement. He actually sent for the most part, harassing e-mails to Take Two's VP Gena Feist. (You can find the entire article here.)

So now that you have a little background on the subject, I would like to introduce to you an article that I read on about a little stunt that Jack pulled with his son, and claims no one is enforcing the ratings set in place by the ESRB. (That article is here.)

Basically, Jack had his 15 year old son go into a Best Buy, to try and purchase an M rated game. He was successful, due to the carelessness of an employee, who after asking for some ID, and Mini-Jack said he had none, and stated she didn't care and sold him the game anyways.

Now tell me, how is Take Two responsible for this? Or the ESRB? Or the Video Game Industry?

Oh Jack, how you agitate me.


Jon said...

That's ridiculous. Consider an analogous example in our mutual industry. Suppose a manager at one of the B&N stores decided to sell a book (say, Harry Potter) before the publisher's release date. Naturally this would get noticed, and all sorts of legal repercussions would ensue. However, it would be absurd for those repercussions to be directed at the book's author (say, J.K. Rowling).

The analogy is reasonably tight--in both cases, an individual store violates a law/regulation having to do with the sale of media, and in both cases the producer of that media is blamed. It seems that if one case is absurd, the other must be too.

That 0ne Guy said...

That's exactly my point.

It's farcical to think that it would be the Maker's fault.

Consider this: Take Two makes a violent video game, it rates M for mature by the ESRB, and then they make contracts with retailers to sell the game. Take Two cannot enforce their policies on another company. So really, it is up to the Retailer to sell those games according to rating. Much like Movies.