By all accounts, the Independence Day debate between Jack Thompson and gamer/lawyer Mark Methenitis was a froth-free success. Thompson, who can be a charmer when he cares to, appears to have impressed the SGC09 audience with a respectful demeanor and self-effacing humor.
Of course, expo attendees sampled but a small slice of the disbarred attorney's act. Naturally, he didn't compare any of them to Saddam Hussein and didn't report them to various law enforcement agencies. Tactfully, Thompson also avoided dredging up any of the various negative generalizations he has made about gamers over the years, such as our personal favorite, "Nobody shoots anybody in the face unless you're a hit man or a video gamer."
We are still hoping to see full-length video of the debate and a subsequent Q&A session, but have been tracking some of the early reactions by attendees. Destructoid's Jim Sterling live-blogged the debate:
After seeing JT's unvetted Q&A earlier, I don't think this'll be the trainwreck people are expecting. Thompson was level-headed and well-behaved earlier...
JT... calls GamePolitics his favorite videogame site. [GP: LOL]
"We are getting to the point where we will understand that adult-rated games are just as harmful as seeing two naked people have intercourse"... "I'm the pro liberty, pro personal choice guy here..."
[JT said] that he got disbarred because he went on 60 Minutes but he'd do it all again.
The normally cynical Sterling, who appears to have sipped liberally from Thompson's Kool Aid, was even more complimentary toward the disbarred attorney in his coverage of the SGC09 Q&A session:
I think Jack Thompson did an amazing job yesterday. I don't agree with all his views, and I certainly disagree with the way he's put them across over the years. I think everyone who watched him yesterday will agree, however, that if he continues the rest of his crusade in the polite and intelligent manner with which he carried himself at SGC, he really wouldn't be such a bad guy to have around.
Overly Positive offers its impressions of the debate:
It seems the audience left the presentation and Q&A with at least a small amount of respect for Jack Thompson, not just for making his points in a rational manner, but for showing up at all. It seems that even if this is to some cynics a desperate grab for relevance, that Thompson honestly believes that presenting his side of the video games violence debate is worthwhile.
SCG09 attendee Sean Hinz also live-blogged the debate.
GP: I caught Thompson's debate performance at VGXPO 07. He is, as described by various SGC09 attendees, an engaging speaker. If he behaved that way all of the time he would almost certainly still have his law license and might still be an effective advocate for his cause.
UPDATE: More in the vein of the Miami Jack we remember here at GP, Thompson e-mailed his reaction to our coverage:
Dennis, pay attention, you might learn something:
1. The comment about GP being my favorite game site was a joke, and everyone knew it. That's why the laughter. Not a lot of folks there care for you or GP.
2. I got about a 60-second standing ovation after the Q & A. Did you talk to Craig, who is the head of ScrewAttack, about his impression of me? [GP: we did send Craig an e-mail inquiry this morning; no response so far]
3. I don't need advice from you about how to be effective. I'm the guy making a difference not you, and it bugs the Hell out of you.