It’s been seven years since Jack Thompson was pulled from the spotlight in disgrace, and his absence has created something of a power struggle among his unofficial prodigies, those who wish to continue his crusade against the evils of video games and gamers everywhere. But anyone stepping up to the plate to bat for Jack should be well aware of a very serious reality: You’ll probably end up just as he did.
If you’re already familiar with Thompson, feel free to skip this paragraph. For everyone else, a brief history: Jack Thompson is an ex-lawyer most famous for his crusade against video games, linking violent games to killing sprees and demanding that the industry (both developers and retailers) be held responsible for breeding murderers.
Jack Thompson was disbarred in 2008 over a set of very serious allegations, including making false statements to the court, sending hundreds of harassing pages to people involved in his lawsuits and targeting individuals not involved in the case including a state representative, and making accusations of corruption toward a sitting judge. Like his prodigies, when Thompson failed to gain any ground on the gaming industry, his tactics transitioned over time to harassment, bullying, and threats, ending his career and what credibility he had maintained in the process.
For Michael Samyn of Tale of Tales, the story is a little different, but the outcome is just the same. In a blog on Gamasutra titled Violence Begets Violence, Samyn continues his recent attack on gamers as “belligerent hooligans.” If you are unfamiliar with Samyn or Tale of Tales, odds are you’re wondering what spurred his contempt for the industry.
“We don’t need theories about the correlation between violent games and violent behavior.”
Samyn is right, we don’t need theories. Multiple long term studies have been conducted over the years and have come to the same conclusion: There is no correlation between violent games and violent behavior. There are no facts presented in the blog to support Samyn’s case, but that is par for the course in a post that could easily be confused for Jack Thompson’s writing: Unsupported vitriol, black and white accusations, against gamers and game developers. Samyn even concludes by blaming the industry for shootings and harassment.
A game developer who claims to be a peaceful tolerant person while producing murder simulators is a hypocrite. I will not accuse them of being directly responsible for mass shootings and online harassment. But they are beyond a doubt guilty of neglecting to prevent such things.
So why the contempt? Tale of Tales recently dropped out of the gaming industry after their most recent venture Sunset failed commercially, selling a total of four thousand copies. Rather than quietly fading from the view of the community that had soundly shown its lack of interest in their products, ToT went on the offensive with a series of vitriolic, vulgar tweets, against gamers and the gaming industry.
And it isn’t hard to see why they would be angry: Tale of Tales wanted to be paid to make games that, as evidenced by their sales, nobody wanted to play. With gamers roundly rejecting the titles as viable products, Tale of Tales had been relying on grants from the Belgian government for most of its existence to keep them afloat. With government grants drying up due to financial troubles in Europe, ToT turned back to the gaming industry who once again responded with a flat rejection.
Naturally, ToT has gone on the Twitter record to decry the evils of capitalism, the system that refused to just hand them money to sit around making games for an industry whose intelligence and culture they’ve professed to not have much faith in. Michael Samyn is willing to talk about how much he hates the gaming industry, but only if you’re willing to pay him. As of this publishing, only 74 people have taken his offer. One would hope that with $405 per article funding his ventures, that Samyn could afford to do some fact checking.
I’ll end this column with a note: This is the last time MMO Fallout space will be used to discuss Tale of Tales, its products, Michael Samyn, or Auriea Harvey. Like Thompson’s post-law diatribe, covering Samyn’s bitterness toward the industry that rejected him would only serve to offer more attention to someone desperately trying to remain relevant.