Jack Thompson, The Man Who Tried To Ban GTA, Thinks Video Games Can Be Good, Actually 1
Image: Jack Thompson

Update [Tue 26th Mar, 2024 12:40 GMT]: The full episode is now available:

Original Story [Sat 23rd Mar, 2024 10:00 GMT]: Jack Thompson, an activist with a long history of fighting against sex and violence in video games, has said that interactive entertainment is "arguably the greatest teaching tool ever invented."

Speaking on Simon Parkin's My Perfect Console podcast, the 72-year-old former attorney – who famously branded games like GTA, Counter-Strike and Manhunt "murder simulators" – said he didn't think video games on their own could cause harm.

When asked by Parkin if he felt video games could have a positive effect as well as a negative one, Thompson – who once told gamers to "go to hell" – replied:

I've seen how it 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 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 is determined by that motive in 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.

So I'm all for the technology. I think what we do with technology is the point, not the technology being the problem.

While this snippet might suggest Thompson's stance has mellowed over the decades, the full episode is likely to contain more than a few salvos aimed at the video game industry. As recently as 2022, Thompson was continuing his tirade against what he deems to be "obscene" games.

Speaking in an interview with The Verge, he recalled the first time he laid eyes on GTA:

It made me sick to my stomach. I was in my house, I put [Grand Theft Auto III] in a video game console, and it was disturbing. You weren’t passively watching something; you were participating in it.

The full episode of My Perfect Console goes live next Tuesday.

[source twitter.com]