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News video games 28 March 2024, 00:56

author: Jacob Blazewicz

Jack Thompson Once Called GTA a „Murder Simulator.” Now, He Considers Games „Arguably the Greatest Teaching Tools Ever Invented”

Jack Thompson made a name for himself as a fierce opponent of video games, but while he still has no love for „murder simulators,” today he sees the potential of games as a teaching tool.

Source: Rockstar Games / Take Two Interactive.

Do you recall Jack Thompson - the man who called for the banning of GTA and even featured in a movie about the series' history (not in person; his role was portrayed by Bill Paxton)? The activist, known for being a fierce opponent of video games and "indecency" in general, recently claimed that interactive entertainment is "arguably the greatest teaching tool ever invented."

These words were said during a conversation with Thompson by Simon Parkin, host of the My Perfect Console podcast. The episode has been available since yesterday, but a portion of the content featuring that statement was released much earlier in the form of a teaser - it has to be acknowledged that it was well-chosen (via X).

Thompson stated that the technology itself is "neutral" and what matters is the "intention" behind its use, in response to Parkin's question about the potentially positive impact of video games. A former lawyer (he has been banned from practicing his profession since 2008) added that the interactive nature of games makes them a powerful tool that can be used in learning.

I've seen how it [technology / video games] helps kids with disabilities, learning disabilities, and in other ways. You know, technology is an amazing thing. I just saw Oppenheimer, which I think deserves the Oscar for best picture. Amazing movie in so many ways. And let's take nuclear fission. It can incinerate a city, or it can illuminate a city. So technology is neutral. What is done with it in the hands of malevolent or indifferent or good people determines is determined by that motive and what's done. But the technology is neutral.

Video games are arguably the greatest teaching tool ever invented. By virtue of the fact that the graphics now are cinematic in quality. Virtual reality; reality doesn't look as good as virtual reality, arguably. And you've got the interactive nature of video games is what makes them so incredibly powerful. You are doing something. You are not passively watching a movie. You're actively a character in that movie, or you're actively learning an important subject you need to learn.

It has to be acknowledged that this represents a significant shift compared to Thompson's previous views, for which he gained fame by referring to games such as CS and GTA as "murder simulators." At least on the surface, because later in the podcast, it was evident that the lawyer still doesn't have a fondness for violent video games (although both he and Parkin conversed rationally). Which is not surprising - just two years ago, Thompson recalled that he felt "sick" when he saw Grand Theft Auto III in action for the first time.

Jacob Blazewicz

Jacob Blazewicz

Graduated with a master's degree in Polish Studies from the University of Warsaw with a thesis dedicated to this very subject. Started his adventure with in 2015, writing in the Newsroom and later also in the film and technology sections (also contributed to the Encyclopedia). Interested in video games (and not only video games) for years. He began with platform games and, to this day, remains a big fan of them (including Metroidvania). Also shows interest in card games (including paper), fighting games, soulslikes, and basically everything about games as such. Marvels at pixelated characters from games dating back to the time of the Game Boy (if not older).