Doug Lowenstein, the founder and longtime leader of the Entertainment Software Association, has written some choice words to the gaming media outlets for legitimizing the actions of anti-industry lawyer Jack Thompson, to the disagreement of popular political site GamePolitics.
Former game-hating lawyer and questionable loon Jack Thompson was disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court last week for "cumulative misconduct," much to the delight of game journalists.
Following the feeding frenzy media outlets had with Thompson's departure, Doug Lowenstein, who started industry trade association ESA to allow game companies to self-regulate the industry and left in 2007 to lead the Private Equity Council, voiced his opinion in a written letter to Kotaku's Brian Crecente that the games press glorified Thompson by giving his antics excess coverage.
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.
Lowenstein's thoughts on the industry as part of political activities are generally admired by many in the business, but in this instance GamePolitics is pointing to his leadership at the end of his ESA tenure as the cause of Thompson's popularity.
"On this issue Doug Lowenstein should look in the mirror. It was Lowenstein's own unwillingness to stand up to Thompson years ago which emboldened the game-hatin', soon to be ex-attorney," posted GamePolitics. "By refusing to respond, Doug dropped the ball. Thompson, finding no resistance from the top of the video game industry, was empowered to push harder. In retrospect, it's important to understand that bullying is the essence of Thompson's strategy."
The site continued, "As for Doug Lowenstein, he's way out of line to suggest a 'critical filtering role' for the gaming press. He is essentially saying that game sites should censor news that the video game industry doesn't like - in this case, news about Jack Thompson. Doug seems to be laboring under the impression that the gaming press works for the benefit of big money game publishers instead of readers. Doug Lowenstein, of course, left the video game industry in 2007 for a new gig lobbying on behalf of the hedge fund crowd. Come to think of it, isn't there enough for Doug to worry about on Wall Street these days? Perhaps he should leave the gaming issues to the gaming press."