The "Jack Thompson Debate" Idea is Over-Rated

GamePolitics has run a number of stories on the rumor, later squashed, of a Jack Thompson debate at the GDC, in addition to the debate that already occurred. In fact, GP’s recent poll is on this very topic. I’d like to voice an opinion that really hasn’t surfaced in any of the gaming media on this topic.

The Jack Thompson Debate at GDC would be a waste of time and have no real benefit for the industry.

I’m sure more than a few readers may be outraged by this statement, but I have four specific reasons for my position.

1. It won’t change Jack’s position.
It has become readily apparent that no amount of reason, logic, or factual evidence, much less the vocal and emotional pleas from fans, will sway Mr. Thompson. He will, in all likelyhood, hold the same stance from now until his death in the distant future. And in the mean time, he will use every waking moment to fight what he considers the “good fight.” Mr. Thompson is the definition of a zealot, and although another debate will likely serve point 4, it won’t change Mr. Thompson’s mind. In fact, I doubt his mind would change if he soundly lost a million debates.

2. It won’t reach the mainstream media.
Ultimately, this whole issue is about the perception of the video game in the main stream media and in the main stream American’s mind. A debate at a conference of game developers won’t make it on CNN or FoxNews or MSNBC. At best, it will make its rounds through the game fan circles, the game media, and maybe the technology media crowd, who are already overwhelmingly opposed to Mr. Thompson’s position. The impact on society at large would more than likely be negligible.

3. It gives Jack more free press and attention.
I know my mother always told me to ignore a bully. By bringing in Mr. Thompson for a debate, it will make him the center of attention. And, when asked about the event, I’m sure he will spin his take on the event to his benefit, no matter the outcome. It’s another line for his resume that we don’t need to provide.

4. Jack would lose, but the only benefit would be an ego boost to people in the industry.
Here’s the one benefit, if you can consider it that. Essentially, no matter how large or small the loss, the industry will be happy. And perhaps a video of the event might make its rounds into more mainstream parts of society. But ultimately, it’s an ego boost without an impact to the mainstream. We all need ego boosts sometime, but I really think the net benefit here is fairly minimal.

I must admit I am relieved to see that, so far, the GDC has not arranged for this debate to actually occur. To me, the circus that would follow the debate would detract from the conference, and ultimately prove to have little or no benefit to the anti-game censorship cause. However, that is just my opinion, and so feel free to disagree.

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About Mark Methenitis

Mark Methenitis is an attorney in Dallas Texas. Mark received his Juris Doctorate and his Master of Business Administration from Texas Tech University and his Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas.

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