Jack Thompson, an anti-video game crusading attorney from Florida, threw down the proverbial gauntlet in October of 2005. In what was, according to Thompson, a satirical piece inspired by Jonathon Swift's "A Modest Proposal", Thompson pledged to donate $10,000 USD to a charity of Take Two Interactive's (the makers of the Grand Theft Auto games) Paul Eibeler's choice if any company will "create, manufacture, distribute, and sell a video game in 2006"¹ based on the scenario he outlined.
[The main character (O.K.)] is provided in his virtual reality playpen a panoply of weapons: machetes, Uzis, revolvers, shotguns, sniper rifles, Molotov cocktails, you name it. Even baseball bats. Especially baseball bats.
O.K. then works his way, methodically back to LA by car, but on his way makes a stop at the Philadelphia law firm of Blank, Stare and goes floor by floor to wipe out the lawyers who protect Take This in its wrongful death law suits. "So sue me" O.K. spits, with singer Jackson Brown's 1980's hit Lawyers in Love blaring.
How about it, video game industry? I've got the check and you've got the tech. It's all a fantasy, right? No harm can come from such a game, right? Go ahead, video game moguls. Target yourselves as you target others. I dare you.
Jack Thompson, A Modest Video Game Proposal, paragraphs 9, 11, and 15¹
It didn't take long for Thompson's game idea to see the light of day. After all, $10,000 is a lot of money, and the modding community enjoys a challenge. The Hellfish, a group of Grand Theft Auto enthusiasts and modders, created a mod based on the PC version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that adheres to Jack Thompson's guidelines. Some of the names were changed, (Mr. Thompson is now the protagonist instead of the fictional O.K.) but the plot and violence of the game are as Mr. Thompson outlined.
Jack Thompson seemed to think that his idea was too controversial to ever be made into a game. He thought his $10,000 would never see a charity. He was wrong, and when the Hellfish completed the game, Jack Thompson claimed his piece was satire. He never had any intention of donating money to charity. When a Slashdot reader emailed him to clarify his position, Mr. Thompson told him that "the terms of the proposal have not been met,"² and asked if he had "any more stupid questions."²
When it became apparent that Jack Thompson wasn't going to make the donation, Mike Krahulik (Gabe) and Jerry Holkins (Tycho), the proprietors of Penny Arcade, donated $10,000 to The Entertainment Software Association Foundation (ESA), the charity they think Mr. Eibeler would have chosen. The donation was made in Jack Thompson's name. What is Mr. Thompson's reaction to Gabe and Tycho's generosity? He tried to have them arrested and is threatening a lawsuit. The $10,000 check will be presented tonight at an ESA charity dinner.
- A Modest Video Game Proposal, Jack Thompson, http://gc.advancedmn.com/article.php?artid=5883
- Jack Thompson Rescinds Offer, MoonBuggy (Slashdot user), http://games.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=165566&cid=13812404