The strikingly violent video game Grand Theft Auto IV will no longer be sold in Thailand, after a teenager murdered a taxi driver while trying to bring the virtual violence into reality. Video retailers have pulled the game off the shelves, and replaced it with other games. As for the teen who played the game for hours a day over a few years span, he now faces a possible death sentence.
Bangkok's police chief said that the teen wanted to find out if it was as easy in real life to rob a taxi as it was in the game. He said the boy planned to use the stolen money to play the game at arcades.
While I have a low tolerance for violence (I closed my eyes during most of The Dark Knight), I can't decide if I think Thailand is overreacting to this individual's crime. To see what experts might say,
Some empirical research has shown that high levels of violent video game exposure have been linked to delinquency, fighting at school, and violent criminal behavior. I wonder which is the cause, and which is the effect. Still, other research maintains that there is no connection between violence and gaming.
If the distributors of Grand Theft Auto start self-censoring, will movies, cage fighting, and other forms of violent entertainment be expected to follow?