Halo 3 Under Fire From Activist Lawyer Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson strikes again.

You might remember attorney Jack Thompson from when he was a competitor in the popular Midway Games video game Mortal Kombat. Or maybe you remember him when he unsuccessfully tried to get the video game Bully banned.

Well, in case you don’t remember his cameo in the video game Mortal Kombat, gamers altered a character in the Mortal Kombat: Armageddon video game to look like him. That player used the kreate-a-fighter mode (yes, every “C” in Mortal Kombat is changed to a “K”) to make a character (or is it “Kharacter”?) to look just like lawyer Jack Thompson, including a suit and his preferred fighting style, “Legalese”. Massive amount of video game aficionados and loyal Halo 3 online players openly mocked the lawyer in video game forums and his apparent lack of knowledge on the video game industry and video games in general. Although Mr. Thompson was successful in his lobbing to get video of his character in Mortal Kombat off of YouTube, his bid for Midway Games to remove his character from the game failed because, well, he was custom-made in the game!

Even after this apparent failure, Jack is still following the video game industry. However, he’s set his sights on a new target.
The anti-video game lawyer has now filed legal documents in Florida law courts concerning another video game. He’s filing his case against both Microsoft and Best Buy. Microsoft being the manufacturer of the Microsoft Xbox360 video game console. Best Buy being the retail chain that is carrying this video game on the shelves.

The game in question? Halo 3.

What’s Halo 3?

The video game Halo 3 is a first-person shooter, made by Bungie Games, and is only able to be played on the Microsoft Xbox 360 video game console. The first two in the trilogy are Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. The video game has set record sales numbers, including  having 4.2 million units of Halo 3 stocked in retail outlets the day before its actual release! It also holds the record for the biggest grossing opening day in the history of popular entertainment, with more than $170 million dollars coming in the first 24 hours and more than $300 million dollars in sales in the first week. That’s big business.

The video game is set in the 26th century where an interstellar battle is being fought between the United Nations Space Command and alien beings known as the Covenant. As a player, you take command of Master Chief, who is like a super-soldier, with special cybernetic enhancements. In the video game you’re helped out by other human Marines and Covenant aliens that are allied with your cause. The game is basically Humans versus Aliens.

So what’s the deal with the lawsuit?

Jack Thompson is trying to ban this game on claims of Halo 3 being a “public nuisance”. Florida law recognizes a public nuisance as being those that “tend to annoy the community, injure the health of the citizens in general, or corrupt the public morals”.

Pretty broad language in that legislation, which is apparently why Jack Thompson is citing it.

I find it odd that attorney Jack Thompson is singling out Halo 3. I’ve personally played Halo 2, and apart from alien guts, it’s just a bunch of explosions really. I don’t remember any graphic scenes of violence or heavy adult language even. Perhaps I can see concern over games designed for mature audiences such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but a game like Halo is soft in comparison. There is some level of realism inherent in the game due to the first-person perspective. When I say 1st-person-perspective I mean that you actually assume the role of the character, to the point where it seems like you are looking through Master Chief’s eyes, with your gun in your peripheral vision. It’s definitely not a game for young children, but I don’t see why young adults should be barred or prevented from playing and enjoying the game.

Is it possible Jack Thompson may see the astronomical sales figures of Halo 3 and see it as a public relations opportunity? Maybe he wants to latch onto the popularity of the video game in order to show up as a “talking head” on assorted news and legal television shows across the world in order to have a pulpit where he can espouse his beliefs on the video game industry. I can’t see what he could target in Halo 3 due to the heavy fantasy base – because really, green alien blood is overtly violent?

A look at Jack Thompson

In case you wanted to know more about him, Jack’s an American attorney based in Coral Gables Florida from Vanderbilt University and is a self-proclaimed activist, Christian conservative, and Republican. Apart from his attacks on video games, he’s also targeted rap music and Howard Stern, mainly on obscenity charges. His frequent use of legal threats have drawn ire due to questions concerning First Amendment rights. He is currently under investigation by the Florida Bar Association and may receive sanctions  over inappropriate conduct.

What is Jack Thompson’s main goal with his battle against the video game industry?

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