Former ESA Head: Game Journalists Helped Make Thompson

Illustration for article titled Former ESA Head: Game Journalists Helped Make Thompson

I can't imagine there is much love lost between the former president of the Entertainment Software Association and soon to be former attorney Jack Thompson. While Thompson often publicly vilified Doug Lowenstein, once even calling him the Goebbels of the industry, Lowenstein always declined to respond. When news of Thompson's upcoming disbarment hit Kotaku, Lowenstein (who now works outside the industry) took the time to write me an email asking that I and other game journalists take this moment not to celebrate but to reflect on how culpable we were in helping create Thompson. That letter for your consideration after the jump. Personally, I think that many (including Kotaku) over covered Thompson at times. But I also think it would be a disservice to completely ignore Thompson's legal proceedings which, at times, did find a home in the mainstream media. We even tried, at times, to apply an investigative slant to his coverage. Ignoring a problem, I think, does not usually make it go away.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR I read with more than passing interest the reports of Jack Thompson's disbarment. Amid all the celebrating among the game industry, one thing I hope emerges is some degree of self examination by the game press of its own complicity in making Thompson what he became. The game press had a schizoid relationship with Thompson. He was the person they loved to vilify and the person they could not get enough of. Time and again, the game press — and mainstream press — would ask ESA to engage with, or respond to Thompson's latest excess. The media knew well that he was a charlatan who wholly lacked credibility. But hey, they said, he was news and could not be ignored. That was a cop out. It gave Thompson a platform he might not have had for as long as he did. Mainstream outlets (The Today Show, CNN, Fox) were worse but the game press knew better. But he was the game press' crack. And even as they said privately he was a kook, they treated him as if he was a credible, fair minded critic. That represented an abdication of the critical filtering role the media should play. There were and are legitimate grounds to criticize the game industry, and there were responsible and fair minded critics like Dave Walsh. But for the game press it was all Jack all the time. So as it takes delight in his apparent demise, it is a good time to contemplate whether the game media itself has matured . You help set the tone for mainstream media coverage and if you validate extremists you give license to the less informed to follow your lead. It is 35 years since Pong. Your readers and the industry deserve a game media worthy of the best that journalism has to offer. Doug Lowenstein


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It's actually kind of sad. Like, the guy is loosing his job for standing up for something he feels very passionately about. Granted, he went about "righting wrongs" in the worst possible ways, but at least he had convictions, and felt inclined enough to do something.

Not saying I'll miss him, but anytime a guys looses his job it's a sad day, even if he is a dickclown.