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How do lawyers stay in business? Grand Theft Auto and Rockstar is How

The estimable Jack Thompson

The estimable Jack Thompson

How do lawyers stay in business? Oh, of course by spurious ‘brand protection’ claims like the one Rockstar Games/Take 2 Interactive have filed. This one is related to a BBC drama called Game Changer, starring Bill Paxton and Daniel Radcliffe.

The drama – as reported in The Independent back in April – is based on David Kushner’s 2012 book, Jacked: The Outlaw Story Of Grand Theft Auto. However, the BBC apparently is also using highly respected game industry insiders such as Guy Cocker to add depth to Kushner’s controversial narrative.

The Harry Potter star will play Sam Houser, the co-founder of video game developer Rockstar Games, in the 90-minute film, Game Changer.

Bill Paxton plays Jack Thompson, the campaigning Florida lawyer, who was determined to prove a link between violent crime and people who played the game.

In my time as a games journalist (from 1988 until 2014) I covered the goings on between Thompson and Rockstar, evening getting involved with in an email exchange or two with Jack in which he had a damned good go at goading me, bless him. You can get all the background to the Jack Thompson vs GTA saga over at my old workplace SPOnG.com The basic story is that Jack, a lawyer from Florida fancied his chances of taking down Take 2, Rockstar and the GTA franchise for the good of all the children’s wellbeing (and possibly his own profile) due to the moral turpitude but maybe not the gun violence, represented. It’s a long, grinding tale of one man’s selfless search for profile versus one company’s intense desire to represent modern culture as nihilistically and profitably as possible.

It was sort of a Loser-Loser kind of a case. Disclosure, despite knowing people who worked on the games, and appreciating their technical prowess, I’ve never been able to stand playing them for more than an hour or so unless I was reviewing them. But that does not mean that I want to see some bible-toting, self-righteous lawyer stop other people from experiencing what I call nihilist, teen tedium and giving their cash (or their parents’ cash) to whoever they damn well like.

Anyway, Take 2’s lawyers don’t like the idea that the BBC is making a drama out of their brand so they’ve created a crisis. In order to tell the world about this, they have used an industry mouthpiece or ‘independent news outlet’ called IGN to publish their intention. (IGN, by the by, was set-up by my old boss Chris Anderson, before being bounced around media owners including Ziff Davis and Rupert Murdoch like a bemused whore in a fallow Californian Gold Rush town. But more of that later maybe.) Here’s the quote:

“Take-Two Interactive has filed suit against the BBC for trademark infringement based on their movie currently titled ‘Game Changer’ as it relates to Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto video game series.

“While holders of the trademarks referenced in the film title and its promotion, Rockstar Games has had no involvement with this project. Our goal is to ensure that our trademarks are not misused in the BBC’s pursuit of an unofficial depiction of purported events related to Rockstar Games. We have attempted multiple times to resolve this matter with the BBC without any meaningful resolution. It is our obligation to protect our intellectual property and unfortunately in this case litigation was necessary.”

Personally, I hope the BBC beats them over the heads with a baseball bat, then drives over their twisted corpses in a drives-like-a-whale Fjord 4wd that they stole from another lawyer before taking all the lawyer-corpse lawyer money then flying off in a helicopter and blasting the Lawyer HQ with side-mounted missiles.

I should also note that Take 2/Rockstar hasn’t bothered to go after the Beeb for this 2013 radio documentary, Grand Theft Auto (listen to it here)

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Exclusive: Men’s Rights Early Documentary Proof Rediscovered

The Debate Rages

The Debate Rages

GamerGate and other political (but also simultaneously apolitical and objective) organisations have ensured that Men’s Rights (a.k.a Menism) has finally been getting some airtime recently with stories such as, Mad Max: Fury Road enrages Men’s Rights Activists who claim they are being duped into watching ‘feminist propaganda’ from the The Independent and this from The Mary Sue, Here’s The Joke Tim Schafer Made That Has Gamergate Freaking Out. You can see the tone being set here by the mainstreamers…

But do not let this recent activity fool you into believing that Menism has no history supporting it. It has, and we have the proof for you to see and share.

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On the Verge of the Last Days of New Media Trust

On the verge of media meltdown

On the verge of media meltdown


Watching the follow video produced by tech-site The Verge about Facebook’s new ‘Instant Articles’ advertising unit lead me to wonder exactly when it was that the latter bought the former and why we weren’t informed of this.

This is essentially an advertorial for Facebook’s latest grasp at relevance. If you’re a media studies student I’d urge you to watch it to the end. If you’re a journalist with any smattering of pride left in your work, I’d urge you not to. If you’re already working in marketing or PR or are a hack in New Media tech journalism, desperate for the illusive advertising spend, then you’ve probably taken this to the quiet room has ‘visual stimulation’.

If you’re a ‘reader’ or viewer who is after some good old-skool information about the product that Facebook will be offering you, well, you’ll find no such thing here. It does no service to the ‘reader’ whatsoever: Do Instant Articles actually serve instantly to a range of devices over a range of signals? Who is a launch partner (The Verge isn’t, we are at least told this. But it’s probably not a huge surprise given it is currently enjoying similar levels of interesting times as the test of the New Media and I’d imagine Facebook does indeed want a cut of your Instant Article produced eyeball revenue).

What is does offer is an evangelical sales dirge from Man with Job Title at Facebook to Hack with Job Title at The Verge who pals along and waggles his head in eager affirmation. To be fair, it offers a hint of critical analysis towards the end but even that is the usual narcissistic bull-waffle about ad revenue splitting that would be immediately obvious to anybody watching this reflecting pool of public-interest-free piss.

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On the Death of a Child & Trigger Warnings

We were supposed to go to Italy. We ended up in Wales after the car exploded... that's another story.

We were supposed to go to Italy. We ended up in Wales after the car exploded… that’s another story.


Last year I wrote about a piece called, On Being Questioned Over the Death of a Child – Part 1 about the death of my daughter Zuzu. It included details about the police presence, the later police interviews, and it provided some background to Zuzu’s disability and the circumstances of her death. I was intending to write part two fairly quickly afterwards but for a variety of reasons I didn’t. I’d like to consider this as part two. You can read the first article by clicking here. Read More

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Sad State of News – What Goes Around…

Russian Journal

Russian Journal

I’ve just been reading A Russian Journal, written in 1948 by John Steinbeck with photography by Robert Capa. The quick description is: “A memoir that takes place not only to Moscow and Stalingrad (now Volgograd) but through the countryside of the Ukraine and the Caucasus.”

I’d recommend it, and not only for its clear style (it’s Steinbeck), and its insights into post-WWII Russia from an American perspective. I was also struck by the sentiment that I’ve quoted below about the state of news writing in 1948. It forms the basis of the trip to Russia then.

It seems to me that is it is being repeated as if newly minted now. I see it all over the Internet in 2015 by those of us mourning some ‘Golden Age of News’. Read on…
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