Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Byte: Oh, stop. Stop it now. It's just too funny.

The war of words between Penny Arcade and Jack Thompson just stepped up a notch today. Jack faxed the Seattle Chief of Police today, asking him to shut down the site and company for running "a campaign of harassment" against him, going so far to call them a "little extortion factory".


The language of his letter has so much spin that if it was a Shane Warne delivery it would move 60 inches between the pitch of the ball and the stumps. I think even a neo-conservative version of Alister Campbell would baulk at calling the GTA games "murder simulators". That's a description as biased as it is inaccurate, and undoubtedly the description of someone who's never played the game.

I applaud Gabe and Tycho for taking a stand against him - I was just saying this morning to Dan Gril of Official Xbox 360 Magazine that it's up to gamers to take the moral high ground in the media argument back from these overwhelmingly biased, headline hunting people pursuing an agenda that wants to stamp out free speech in our lives, art and entertainment. Given that "liberty" and "liberal" have the same roots in Latin (from "liberum" - free, independent, unrestricted), I do find it curious that the US media will shout about the former until it's blue in the face, but regard anyone showing signs of being the latter with the same sort of suspicision as your average Islamic Terrorist...

The real reason behind Thompson's complaint to the Seattle Police is an obvious one. He's losing the battle, especially in the worldwide gaming media. I only hope that the Seattle constabulary have the sense to throw out his complaint on its arse and slap him on the wrists for wasting police time. As far as the general gaming community is concerned, his credibility is holed beneath the waterline, but he still has the ear of important people in the US Senate and media. This has to change.

Penny Arcade seem more than willing to pursue this to its inevitable conclusion - a date in court most likely - and kudos to them for standing up against this litigious bully. If someone had labelled my website or company a "little extortion factory", they'd be on the wrong end of a libel or slander action - especially if I'd just donated $10,000 to charity and ran a charity that encouraged gamers to make donations of money and toys to children's hospitals (to the tune of around $500,000 so far).

I mean, that's a criminal racket, isn't it? And giving toys to sick kids sounds *exactly* like the kind of action a dangerously unbalanced gamer who's been playing murder simulators for hundreds of hours would do, doesn't it?

If you're a gamer, and you care about having the freedom to have the videogames you want to play, then we can't just sit by and let smear campaigns against our favourite entertainment industry carried out by self-serving publicity seekers happen. Time to stand up, be counted and get the real facts about gaming out there.

I don't know about you, but I'm writing a letter to the Daily Mail.
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