Lowenstein: The press made Jack Thompson, covering him was a “cop out”

Saturday, 27th September 2008 20:26 GMT By Patrick Garratt


Ex-ESA boss Doug Lowenstein’s written to Kotaku to claim that about-to-be-disbarred legal sensation Jack Thompson was partially a monster creation of the games media, accusing the specialist press of reporting on him despite the fact “he was a charlatan who wholly lacked credibility”.

“The game press had a schizoid relationship with Thompson,” said Lowenstein. “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.”

Lowenstein went on to say Kotaku’s coverage of Thompson gave legs to mainstream stories, branding Thompson an “extremist.”

“As it takes delight in his apparent demise, it is a good time to contemplate whether the game media itself has matured,” he said.

“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.”

Read the full thing through the link.



  1. Shatner

    Last three paragraphs are solid gold material.

    Many in the games culture/media are particularly unhappy with the way Jack Thompson consistently misappropriated some sort of misunderstanding about games as a victory for him or some leverage for him to preach his sermon on.

    It would be shameful irony, then, for the games culture/media to stoop to the same level by misappropriating Jack Thompson’s iminent disbarring as a reflection of the virtue of their own cause.

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Right?

    #1 6 years ago
  2. patlike

    Thompson was legitimate news. Lowenstein’s being a complete clown, frankly. It’s literally stupid to say, “He was an idiot so you shouldn’t write about him.” I do find it funny when non-journalists throw in their tuppences like this. Unfailing naive beyond belief.

    #2 6 years ago
  3. morriss

    Everyone’s a critic.

    #3 6 years ago
  4. wickedman

    fuck him!!!! what and idiot,a 100 % dumbass

    #4 6 years ago
  5. No_PUDding

    He’s pretty much correct.

    We’re an extremely defensive industry/community. The volatility of the community’s reactions are based purely on being acknowledged.

    And the part that makes him sound like a complete clown is comparing the gaming industry to a matured industry.

    Of course it’s not, it’s 20 years off the ground. And even pettier of him, to point to certain individuals when every industry has their weak members.

    But I do agree with him somewhat, perhaps only in retrospect because I really didn’t give Thompson very much attention. He was never actually going to have an impact.

    #5 6 years ago
  6. patlike

    It’s a circular argument, though. If you’re a Tory and you pick up a copy of the Guardian, you’re more than likely to sit there saying, “This isn’t news, this isn’t news,” story after story. Same if you’re a lefty and you go through the Telegraph. Each publication’s just catering for its audience.

    The games media is, pretty much by definition, pro-games. So if someone attacks the industry in the mainstream it’s going to get coverage. To be honest, at the end I think Jack was getting less column inches due to the “stuck record” nature of his appearances – I know I skipped over quite a few quotes in the few months before he went up against the judge – but Doug’s argument that people shouldn’t report on him just because he lacks credibility genuinely doesn’t make any sense. Sites like Kotaku cover everything: why would they not cover Jack Thompson?

    #6 6 years ago
  7. Harry

    We covered Jack less and less at Boomtown over the last year. Mainly because I was sick and tired of getting insulting emails from him.

    I did try to engage Jack in some sort of debate, but he just responded with more insults. And so in the end I blocked his email address and vowed not to cover any stories related to him.

    We have covered the disbarring, but I imagine that’ll be the last time we ever mention him.

    #7 6 years ago
  8. patlike

    I can’t really see what else is going to come out of it that’s actually newsworthy. It’s pretty much over. Depends what he does now though, obviously: if he continues a high profile campaign against games in the US, I’ll cover it.

    #8 6 years ago
  9. rainer

    Would Tompson have had a “high profile compaign” if the game press had not given him so much coverage though ?

    He is a classic troll and lots of high profile sites seemed to want to engage him (Ars-Techinca, Penny Arcade etc) multiple times only to find that he didn’t care or just wanted to push his anti-games message.

    I think there is truth to Lowensteins remarks, its like the Large Hydrogen Collier experiment a few prominent news sites began reporting about some crackpot who though black holes would form, before you know it this “theory” [because it made popular news] had spread through many news outlets and into mainstream despite the fact it was a load of horse manure. Other sites would continue to report on this while faux mocking it at the same time (Engadet) which all it did was pour fuel on the fire of the story.

    It seems to me the same thing Tompson was a crackpot as proven by his own disbarment and news sites fell over themselves to cover him because it was popular which only added to fuel to his fire.

    #9 6 years ago
  10. patlike

    You have a point, but I think it’s a wider argument about the role of the press in general, rather than whether or not Jack Thompson benefited from the press’s role in his story. It’s an age-old debate, innit: does the press create or report on the “news”?

    #10 6 years ago
  11. Shatner

    Good point Pat.

    The sad thing is, merely reporting the news as it is can be fairly mundane. It’s a mundane industry at a grass-roots level. But that’s not attractive copy and, as it is, it won’t get people interested enough to read articles.

    Personally, just like the we’re over the period where every game had to have a central character with attitude to compete with Sonic or Mario, I’m very much over the need for news to be delivered with attitude or pithy/smartass comments or rhetoric. Simple delivery of the facts and some considered reporting into their influence is the way to go. Many sites do exceptionally well from such an approach.

    #11 6 years ago
  12. patlike

    Shatner – You are, of course, right. The games industry is pretty boring and there does need to be a “hook” to make people read copy. They’re drowning in information and it’s a fight for sites to make their editorial stand out.

    I do agree that straight fact reporting is very important, but I also believe that “games” has a special attitude that does need to be represented. It’s an entertainment industry, and a unique one, and it’s flavour is something worth celebrating, in my opinion.

    #12 6 years ago
  13. patlike

    Chicken ;-)

    #13 6 years ago
  14. wickedman

    Patlike: 1 The Rest: 0

    #14 6 years ago
  15. No_PUDding

    I still agree with him. Had it been a more mature industry I doubt there would have been such a reaction. But I think it’s preposterous he could suggest this industry is even considered matured. It’s young.

    And when someone from outside the loop makes a big fuss about it, why should the industry not take notice? It’s actually a form of acknowledgement there.

    Don’t get me wrong Pat, EVERYONE posted the news, it just wouldn’t have been newsworthy had this been a more mainstream industry. And say what you want about the industry, it’s audience is still not as wide as that of movies.

    #15 6 years ago
  16. pjmaybe

    If only that logic applied to the current “controversy” surrounding that weirdo Advanced Wars DS case. The media still has such a fucking huge boner for citing gaming as the root of all evil in today’s society that it keeps missing the bigger picture. Games aren’t evil, people are.

    (as it turns out, the oldest psychological reason in the world was responsible in the Advance Wars case – one bloke having a boner for another bloke’s missus and offing ‘im to get a sniff at the action was actually the root cause rather than gaming per se. All parties had facebook accounts and regularly kept in touch using that, but not one word was mentioned on BBC newscasts of this fact. Nope, it was gaming wot dun it guv…)

    #16 6 years ago
  17. disusedgenius

    Eh? I haven’t read a single mainstream article which blames computer games in that case, and that includes The Sun!

    #17 6 years ago
  18. pjmaybe

    Insinuated blame. As in there being absolutely no fucking reason whatsoever to mention Advance Wars DS in the various press coverings as it’s pretty clear that they didn’t communicate via the AW forum exclusively, but hey if they can make enough paranoid mums think that little timmy is plotting his next murder while innocently tinkering with his DS, then all the better.

    Just like the various reports of people being murdered in gamestore queues for GTA IV.

    #18 6 years ago
  19. disusedgenius

    Of course there’s a reason: because it’s a geeky-internet ‘hook’ to a story. You’ve got to have a special kind of paranoia to see anything malicious to it really.

    It’s very tabloid for sure, but not an attack on gaming whatsoever.

    #19 6 years ago
  20. pjmaybe

    Hmmm I reckon it works both ways. You’d have to have a special kind of thick skin not to see it as being newsworthy because of an extremely tenuous link to games.

    Man I can’t WAIT to see the tabloid shitstorm when GTA CW hits.

    #20 6 years ago
  21. disusedgenius

    To be honest, if it was insinuating anything about nerd culture, it was internet forums, not gaming.

    /googles for train tickets to Oxford

    #21 6 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.