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Game Profile
 Written by John Scalzo  on March 11, 2007

Special: A full report.

In a move similar to last year's fight over Bully, Jack Thompson has once again announced his intentions to block the release of a Take-Two product. This time, not surprisingly, he's going after the upcoming releases Grand Theft Auto IV and Manhunt 2. Thompson has previously attacked earlier games in those franchises, to little success.

He also issued another one of his famous missives and in familar Jack Thompson style, it is full of inaccuracies and downright lies. Thompson's press release is printed below (in block quotes) along with any corrections that need to be made (my responses will be in bold).

"Lawsuit to Be Filed to Stop Sale of Two Murder Simulation Games to Kids"

Miami attorney and anti-violent video game activist, Jack Thompson, will file a lawsuit the week of March 19 to prevent the sale of two hyperviolent video games set to be released this year and sold to anyone under 17 years of age.

The two games are Manhunt 2 and Grand Theft Auto IV. Both are made by Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. Both games will be rated "Mature."

Neither game has been rated by the ESRB yet, and while it is likely they will both be rated Mature, it is not a certainty.

This ESRB rating is an admission, both in the legal sense and in the common sense of the word, that neither game can or should be sold to anyone under the age of 17 years because of the harmful, mature content.

This part is mostly true. It should be noted that the ESRB has no legal backing. It is a voluntary system set up between retailers, the game inductry and the public.

The United States Federal Trade Commission has recently found by its own stings on stores that despite the "Mature" rating on video games, they are still sold 42% of the time to kids under 17.

Enforcement of the ESRB rating system is, like the MPAA film ratings, carried out on a store-by-store basis. Take-Two is not responsible for any transactions at the store level.

Take-Two aggressively markets its "Mature" games to children, as it was caught this past year placing Grand Theft Auto ads on public transport in major US metropolitan areas despite promises by the industry to stop that practice after Columbine.

A 2002 report by the Federal Trade Commission found that the video game industry leads the way in appropriate marketing: "There is much in the game industry's rating disclosure requirements that merits duplication by others."

Take-Two also runs ads for its "Mature" games in video game publications purchased by hundreds of thousands of kids under 17.

Take-Two (or any video game company for that matter) does not place ads for Mature-rated games in any publication targeted at children. These ads are for the many millions of adults who are the target market for these publications.

The United States, unlike countries such as Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Japan, Germany, and others, labels video games harmful to minors and yet allow sales of them to minors. Such sales are illegal in these other countries.

The only countries on Thompson's list where video game ratings are enforceable by law are Australia and New Zealand. All other countries use a voluntary retailer-controlled system similar to the ESRB (the Japanese CERO system was based on the ESRB).

The video game industry has fraudulently persuaded various courts in the US to strike down constitutional laws prohibiting the sale of adult games to children, lying to courts by saying that there is "no evidence that these games are harmful to minors." This is from an industry that places "Mature" labels on games.

All of these claims of fraud are made by Jack Thompson only. No American judge has found their conduct inappropriate.

The American Psychological Association in August 2005 found a clear causal link between violent games and teen aggression.

The APA study Thompson cites found no such link and the words "causal link" do not appear anywhere in the report's findings.

Law enforcement, since the school massacre at Columbine, has increasingly linked violent video game play to violence around the country. The US Supreme Court in Roper v. Simmons, in striking down the juvenile death penalty, cited brain scan studies which prove that minors process violent information in a different part of the brain than do adults. Brain scan studies (MRIs) at various institutions prove that violent video games are processed in the midbrains (amygdala) of teens, which leads to copycat violence.

A quote from the study in question: "Individual brains differ enough that only broad generalizations can be made from comparisons of different individuals at different ages." In other words, all individuals should be measured as individuals on a case-by-case basis. Again, there is no "direct causal link." No mention of a "copycat mentality" was found in the study either.

Killings have been specifically linked to Take-Two's Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto games.

Jack Thompson himself is the person who has stated the connections between GTA/Manhunt and these killings.

Thompson is legal counsel for two sets of families suing Take-Two for video game copycat killings. Thompson has asked Take-Two and retailers to stop selling Take-Two's "Mature" murder simulation games to kids. They all refuse.

Best Buy, GameStop, EB Games, Walmart and many other major retailers have all pledged not to sell Mature-rated games to those under 17. Corporations should not be held responsible for individual cashier error.

They are about to be told by a court of law that they must adhere to the logic of their own "Mature" labels.

No legislation is currently pending that would make Mature labels enforceable by law.

Jack Thompson drafted Louisiana's harmful to minors video game law last year. It was passed unanimously by both houses in the Louisiana legislature after Thompson's live testimony, and the bill was signed into law by Governor Blanco. The Attorney General of Louisiana then chose not to defend the law aggressively in the resulting court challenge after the video game industry threatened to pull video game companies out of the state.

No such threat was made and this law was struck down because it was unconstitutional.

Thompson will thus use, successfully, existing nuisance laws to stop the distribution of Manhunt 2 and Grand Theft Auto IV to anyone under 17. This comes at a very bad time for Take-Two, which is set for a corporate coup on April 23 when shareholders will take over control of the company, fire scofflaw CEO Paul Eibeler and flush the entire board. This upcoming coup and its details have been reported around the world this past week. The court-ordered prohibition of the sale of these two Take-Two murder simulation games to anyone under 17 will adversely impact revenues to Take-Two. This should be of great concern to all Take-Two shareholders, especially those who are poised to take over the company.

Take-Two shareholders (of which Thompson is one) have made it known they want the CEO and the board replaced. This is true.

A review of Manhunt 2 can be read at the following link: Game Radar link

This article is actually a preview of Manhunt 2 as the game has yet to be released.

As any reader can see, the player can plunge a syringe into the eye of his foes and removes their testicles.

The article does note these attacks will be possible in Manhunt 2. However, as the article is only a preview, it is possible they will not be present in the final game. At this point, it is too early to tell.

A Houston boy was arrested and placed in jail by law enforcement there after he called Jack Thompson threatening to castrate Thompson and kill him. The teen's point in calling was to convince Thompson that Take-Two's games had not affected his attitudes. Pause.

The only person who has reported about this teen is Jack Thompson. Thompson also has said this alleged event took place in 2005, a full two years before this article on Manhunt 2 was released.

Now Take-Two is set to sell to children a simulator showing them how to castrate their foes.

Once again, Take-Two is not responsible at the point of sale for any game.

Contact Jack Thompson, who still has his testicles, both literally and figuratively, despite Take-Two's efforts to have him disbarred, for more information at ***-***-****.

I cannot comment on the state of Jack Thompson's testicles as this sentence just disturbs me.

We at Gaming Target will continue to follow Thompson's progress on this case and sincerely hope it is as entertaining as his verbal scuffle with Judge Ronald Friedman was during the Bully case.

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