Filed Under: Opinion
For those not following the rhubarb sprout up around Jack Thompson's challenge to the game development community and the ensuing hilarity when someone took him up on his offer, here's how it goes.
In the Beginning, There Was "Hot Coffee", And it Was Good
Some time in early June, the 9th from what I can see here at gtaSanAndreas.net PatrickW, following up on a discovery made by Barton Waterduck (yeah, I'm assuming these are aliases) unlocked disabled content in the game GTA San Andreas by Rockstar Games. This content allows the player to bang away at their virtual girlfriends, rather than just having it implied at the end of a date. Presumably it was disabled by Rockstar in the back and forth with the ESRB while finagling an M (Mature) Rating, which is required to get onto the shelves of chains like Wal-Mart, rather than the stricter AO (Adults Only) rating that the sexual content would garner the game.
Now here's the rub: The sexual content that the "Hot Coffee" patch unlocks is completely unavailable without a third party modification to the game. This had Rockstar saying the content was the responsibility of the mod-er, in this case, presumably, Barton Waterduck (god, you have a great name, Waterduck). On the other hand, solid state distributions such as the PS2 could be patched (via 3rd party mechanism) to enable the content proving that it was originally in the Rockstar release. Course, the content was still not available except through external patching, but the finger of responsibility is not-so-clearly avoided at this point.
Course, this was all too juicy a target for the media, crazies and politicians to avoid. Explosions abound as people tried to manipulate the facts to suit their respective causes. Christian and Family Groups opened fire on the ESRB for not properly rating the game, who deflected the attack at Rockstar for 'hiding' the content. Rockstar said that the content was disabled but the modding community point right back at Rockstar with the PS2 patch, and gaming companies almost certainly started tearing through the inert and disabled content on their releases wondering if they were liable for unavailable bits and bytes that they'd shipped inadvertently. Unable to resist the juicy target Jack Thompson (expect a fun tug-of-war to ensue on that wikipedia page) of the StopKill fame, amongst other, redoubled his efforts to down the Take-Two Interactive beast knowing full well that while the American people can handle a prostitute getting decapitated, they sure can't handle her getting banged. Enter Presidential Election 2008 hopeful Hillary Clinton who isn't exactly sure what's going on, isn't exactly sure what this new-fangled Playstation is, and sure doesn't know what Hot Coffee has to do with it, but knows for sure that Soccer Moms ain't to happy with any of it. Briefed by Thompson (if Thompson is to be believed) Hillary got off to some pro-active not too much of anything.
The Salvos of open-letters from x to y via z to hopefully be read by m lit up the sky and it was, well and truly, Go Time.
Through all this gamers were wondering what the big f-ing deal is, underage children were rushing to download this awesome patch that they've been hearing so much about, the ESRB was just praying no one decides to legislate their existence away and most of all, Rockstar Games couldn't care less about Thompson and Clinton and was smok'en a big'ol fat cigar all the way to the bank.
Of course, none of this stopped anyone from playing GTA:San Andreas and Rockstar happily re-released the game without the content without much fanfare. But it doesn't end there.
So I Told You All That So I Could Tell You This
Jack Thompson, having accomplished nothing but enhancing the sales of San Andreas, almost certainly Bully probably even The Warriors couldn't stop there. He had comics who run charities for the Children's Hospital to attack.
As is so historically dictated, Jack Thompson issued an irate (and while tasteless to the charities he obviously wouldn't donate to, clearly satirical) challenge to the gaming community to develop a game which would "simulate" the murder of Take Two, er sorry, Take This associates. In return for the game development Thompson would donate $10 000 to charity. Obviously (to everyone except Thompson, I guess) the game was made in short order and Thompson immediately regretted his decision to offer $10 000 of his own money.
Not content to leave Thompson simply looking like an ass, Penny Arcade felt the need to broadcast the fact through a $10 000 donation sized bull-horn and make the donation for him, in his name. Much peeing-in-the-face by Gabe predictably follows.
As a result of being made to look like an ass, in true kindergarten style Thompson has collected his toys and run to the teacher, er police and attempted to have the penny arcade crew thrown in jail. It would seem that Thompson has a form letter printed up for this given the epic volume of times he threatens web comics.
Meanwhile, even the Soccer moms are feeling a little queasy about Thompson and have decided that they'd best let him go it alone in this whole threaten everyone in the world campaign and so Thompson looks more and more like an angry mouse trapped in the corner of a cage of cats hissing and spitting well past the time that it is wise to do so.
There is an untold entertainment value to reading about this guy, and one has to wonder where his head is at, exactly. I suppose only time will tell how far this drama will play out, and I will post updates should anything else amusing take place. For now, though, I believe that is the extremely brief and partially inaccurate skinny of ThompsonGate. Watch for the sequel as he has his go at Sims 2 -- A Pedophile's Paradise which I believe was the original development code-name for it, by the way.