Doug Lowenstein blames gaming media for Jack Thompson

Doug Lowenstein, former head of the Entertainment Software Association, was no stranger to Jack Thompson. Often the focal point of Thompson’s attacks (he’s been linked to Goebbels, Hitler, the devil-you name it) Lowenstein never gave Thompson a response.

Doug’s belief has always mirrored my own: ignore Jack and stop giving him free press (which is all he ever wanted) and eventually he’d go away. Other writers tended to have their own idea-which I have no problem with-and you all know how it ended up.

In a letter to Kotaku’s Brian Crecente, Doug asks him to examine the gaming press and its role of creating Thompson, as well as question whether or not the incident has caused it to mature. He has some good points, but he also has some which are pretty much completely wrong and stupid. I’ll let you figure out which ones those are on your own.



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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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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