posted March 11, 2003

Student Congress to Sponsor Debate Examining Video Game Violence

Video game violence will be the focus of a debate presented through the "James E. Bultman Speaker Series" organized by the Student Congress at Hope College on Tuesday, March 25, at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

The event is titled "Video Games: The Bottom Line," and will consider "Gamers vs. Blamers: Are video games training killers or simply entertaining." The discussion will focus on whether playing games like "Grand Theft Auto," "Doom" and "Quake" desensitizes players--mainly teens--to killing, and if such entertainment has played a role in tragedies such as the Columbine massacre.

The debaters will be Jack Thompson, a leading anti-entertainment industry litigator, and author David Kushner, whose book "Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture" is forthcoming. Thompson and Kushner are speaking at college and university campuses around the country, and have also been booked at institutions including Harvard, Yale and UCLA.

Thompson's activity has included prompting the FCC to fine shock radio stations and forcing Time Warner to remove Ice-T's "Cop Killer" from shelves. The $9 billion video game industry is his main target today as he seeks to hold the entertainment industry accountable for the harm that he asserts it does to children.

Kushner writes for "Rolling Stone," "The New York Times," "Wired" and "Spin," where he is a contributing editor. He asserts that video games are fantasy and their makers bear no responsibility in an individual's decision to act violently in real life.

The "James E. Bultman Speaker Series" debuted with author Alex Haley on Jan. 30, 1992. Others featured through the years have included actor Danny Glover and actor/director Felix Justice; former principal Joe Clark, inspiration for the film "Lean on Me"; attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on environmental issues; writer Maya Angelou; and actor/writer/lawyer game show host Ben Stein. The Student Congress named the series in honor of current president James Bultman in April of 2002.

Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located on College Avenue at 12th Street.