08 Aug Thailand Bans Grand Theft Auto IV
This article is kind of confusing, and I haven’t found any others that offer a clearer explanation. I’m imagining that the Thai government is just being reactionary here and there is no clear justification for banning the game. They say the boy murdered the taxi driver because he wanted to see if it was as easy in real life as in the game. Then they say he needed money so he could play the game more. So first the danger is that the game is a bad influence on kids, then the danger is that it’s addictive and we could see gamers like crack addicts robbing bodegas to buy the latest first person shooter. Finally, in an AFP article, a police officer claims the game is being banned because of obscene content. Obscene content? The country with one of the biggest sex tourism economies in the world is fretting over naughty language, guns, and digital strip clubs? No, GTA is no worse than an Ong Bak movie. Games are just convenient scapegoats.
The 18-year-old high school student is accused of stabbing the cab driver to death by trying to copy a scene from the game. The biggest video game publisher in the south-east Asian country, New Era Interactive Media, has told retailers to stop selling GTA IV. It is due to be replaced by another video game title.
Thai newspapers say the teenager, whose name has been withheld, was arrested while trying to steer a cab backwards out of a Bangkok street with the driver still in the back seat. Police claim the 18-year-old confessed to stealing the taxi and said he killed the 54-year-old driver after he fought back. The teenager could face the death penalty if he is found guilty.
Bangkok police Captain Veerarit Pipatanasak said: “He wanted to find out if it was as easy in real life to rob a taxi as it was in the game.
“He wanted money to play the game. His parents, who work as civil servants, did not have enough money to give him.”
Thailand’s Culture Ministry has recently been pushing for tougher regulation of games like Grand Theft Auto. It wants stricter age ratings and restrictions on the hours that people can play games in arcades. Ladda Thangsupachai, director of the ministry’s Cultural Surveillance Centre, said: “This time-bomb has already exploded and the situation could get worse. Today it is a cab driver, but tomorrow it could be a video game shop owner.”