A taxi driver was killed by an 18-year old with a knife in Thailand over the weekend. Not exactly gaming news, except for the fact the teenager cited Grand Theft Auto as his inspiration. As a result, New Era Interactive Media, the game's distributor in Thailand, has requested stores remove the title from shelves, and the Thailand Culture Ministry has taken the opportunity to push for stronger classification measures.
Although the person in question was 18, surprisingly, the government identified parents as the important factor in keeping inappropriate games (and other mediums) out of the hands of their children. From the Herald Sun story:
A senior official at Thailand's Culture Ministry said the murder was a wake-up call for authorities to tackle the issue of violent video games, and urged parents to pay closer attention to what their children played.
The article goes on to say the assailant was an "obsessive player of Grand Theft Auto" and appeared clear of mental illness. So why did he do it?
"He said he wanted to find out if it was as easy in real life to rob a taxi as it was in the game", chief police investigator Veeravit Pipattanasak said.
Now, I'm no mental health professional, but that doesn't sound like something a normal person would say.
Certainly a tragedy, but the exception to the rule. If someone feels compelled to commit such a terrible act, all the censorship in the world won't stop them from finding an influence or "reason" to do it - be it society, TV, movies, games or the alignment of the stars. It's just unfortunate that in this case, it was GTA.
Game pulled from shops after killing [Herald Sun, thanks Michael]