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Jack Thompson is blasted by pro-family group

GamesIndustry.biz staff 15:32 14/10/2005

National Institute on Media and the Family distances itself from vociferous lawyer

Florida attorney and anti-videogame campaigner Jack Thompson has come under fire from America's National Institute on Media and the Family for claiming to have the support of the group in his regular open letters.

The decision of the group to distance itself from the attorney and his headline-grabbing tactics comes despite the fact that like Thompson, the institute is a vocal critic of games such as Manhunt and 25 to Life for their violent content.

The institute's founder, Dr David Walsh, wrote an open letter to Thompson, a copy of which was obtained by US website Game Politics. The letter was also sent to the likes of senator Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates and Doug Lowenstein of the ESA - the same Doug Lowenstein whom Thompson has previously compared to Hitler.

It begins with Dr Walsh explaining that he established the institute ten years ago "to engage in research and education about the effects of media on children's health and development." Walsh writes that one of the areas of most concern to the institute is the effects of violent media.

"I know that you share that common concern and I am well aware that you have frequently cited me and our organisation as a source of scientific information," Walsh continues.

"However, over the past few months, I and members of my board have a growing concern that your use of our name, without our permission, has had a negative influence as we try to educate the public on this important issue.

"Your commentary has included extreme hyperbole and your tactics have included personally attacking individuals for whom I have a great deal of respect... Some of the people that you have publicly criticised are not only people of integrity, but are people who have worked to improve the lives of children."

Walsh goes on to note that Thompson has been using his name in correspondence even though they have no formal relationship, creating the impression "That we condone these tactics. We do not.

"The result is that our position and reputation as a research based, non-partisan, solution-focused organisation has been jeopardised.

"Consequently, I ask that you cease using the institute's or my name in any way that would give the impression that we support your efforts." Walsh also requests that Thompson remove the link to the institute's website from his own site.

Walsh's letter comes just days after Thompson issued an open letter to the videogames industry in which he outlined his idea for a game where the CEO of fictional company Take This, Paula Eibel, is murdered along with her husband and children. Should any developer agree to make the game, Thompson will donate $10,000 to the charity of choice of Paul Eibeler, the CEO of Take Two.

Mike Krahulik, the artist behind popular gaming culture comic Penny-Arcade and a founder of the hugely successful Child's Play charity, contacted Thompson after he made this offer to point out that Child's Play has raised over half a million dollars for children's hospitals around the USA since its inception.

Commenting on Penny-Arcade.com, Krahulik reports that Thompson proceeded to call him directly - keen, no doubt, to congratulate such a successful fellow organiser of videogaming-related charity efforts.

Or perhaps not. "Jack actually just called and screamed at me for a couple minutes," Krahulik said. "He said if I email him again I will 'regret it'. What a violent man."

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