Thompson Proposes Cease Fire
For the most part, Jack Thompson usually isn't interested in communication and negotiation; he's content to just rant and rave about violent video games. However, in an interesting turn of events, Thompson appears ready to enjoy a ceasefire with the ESA and ESRB in regards to the sale of violent games to minors.
Thompson sent a letter to soon-to-be-ex-president of the ESA, Doug Lowenstein and ESRB president Patricia Vance, outlining a simpler and less aggressive suggestion (in contrast to passing laws). The idea is to instruct retailers that if they sell "M"-rated games to minors, publishers just won't ship them any games to sell.
"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."
Thompson admits this idea hasn't been broached or attempted before, but that it would "avoid the need for any future legislation or fights over legislation." Considering Thompson has been entirely unsuccessful in getting such legislation passed, this almost sounds like a letter of surrender. Even so, he's not exactly going quietly...
"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."
Well, we assume he means in our lifetime. It doesn't look good right now, but hey, who knows? Clearly, Thompson's actions in the future will depend on the response he receives. We almost want an antagonistic response just because we love watching Thompson go ballistic and then, subsequently, fail in yet another anti-gaming endeavor. Then again, perhaps it's best for all concerned parties to bury the hatchet, even though it sounds boring from a news standpoint.
1/8/2007 Ben Dutka