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Do you know Jack?

Kevin Stallard

Jack Thompson

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably recognize this name. Thompson is a self-appointed crusader against violence and sexuality in video games. While he has relatively little to do with MMORPG's yet, it is only a matter of time before he, or others like him, decides to turn his attention to our favorite pastime. Thompson has been at his game for several years now, but it appears that the industry, as well as Florida's Bar Association, is starting to fight back.

The state of Florida has apparently had enough of Jack's courtroom antics and is initiating proceedings to disbar Thompson which would put a serious dent in his ability to launch countless frivolous lawsuits against game developers. Unfortunately, Jack Thompson is only a symptom of a larger disease in our society which threatens all of us. Censorship in gaming has been a hot-button issue for many years now, particularly now that "T & A" can be rendered in photographic quality thus making the wildest virtual fantasies of many a computer geek into easily programmable reality.

Certainly, cleavage and skin tight costumes have been a part of the MMO world from the very beginning, but now that the MMO genre has taken off thanks to games like World of Warcraft (and even they aren't shy to show a little skin now and then), certain upcoming titles from "mainstream" development companies are including more titillation for their would-be subscribers. The Age of Conan demo shown at Dragon*Con earlier this year proudly boasted that body types would be completely customizable and that costumes would leave little, if anything, to the imagination. The MMO market is maturing, and so is the player base who is increasingly expressing a desire for more "adult" content in their games.

Enter the would-be censors.

Ultimately, people like Jack Thompson cloak their desire for control in the guise of "protecting children". While most of us are adult enough to make decisions for ourselves, many MMORPG players are teenagers or even younger. Most of the time, kids and adults co-exist in our various virtual worlds with few problems. Everyone enjoys a good game. WIth the increasing amount of sexual content in our games (yes, I know that "adult" can mean sex *and* violence, but violence has been a part of MMO's from day one, and only the thickest troglodyte would miss that fact), it eventually falls to us, the consumer, to remain vigilant for games that are inappropriate for children, and for us to exercise our responsibilities as parents lest religious fanatics with too much time and money on their hands decide to do it for us. The next time you see a sensational news story about how video games, especially MMORPGs, are "ruining" the lives of our children, make sure that the blame is placed not on the game, but on the irresponsible parents who weren't paying attention. If "they" succeed in making video games the culprit in such cases, it will ruinthe fun for all of us.

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