The fun just doesn’t stop for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Even though the game is now over 3 years old, the media is still taking shots at Tommy Vercetti’s escapades through the Florida sunshine.
Today, CBS’s prime-time news broadcast 60 Minutes covered a story (originally reported in March, while the incident itself happened in June of 2003) about an American teenager who attacked and killed two police officers and a 9-1-1 dispatcher.
Devin Moore – an 18 year old resident of Fayette, Alabama – was booked by officer Arnold Strickland under supision of car theft. Moore was compliant when he was brought into the station for questioning, but he suddenly snapped, grabbing officer Strickland’s gun and shooting him in the head. He then turned on officer James Crump, killing him as well, before preceeding to the 9-1-1 dispatch office where he shot and killed dispatcher Ace Mealer. Grabbing a set of keys from the station, Moore then stole a police cruiser.
All of this happened within one minute.
Moore was a fan of Grand Theft Auto – he played the game frequently. And as anyone who has played the game knows, the scenario involving Moore and the police station rampage definitely echoes gameplay aspects available in Vice City. The shocking thing is that someone would actually go ahead and do this in real life, turning satirical fiction and drama into a cold-blooded triple-homicide, all over little more than suspicion of auto theft.
The not-so-shocking aspect of the story is that attorney Jack Thompson (the nefarious lawyer who has been chasing Rockstar Games for years) stepped forward to participate in the 60 Minutes story, tooting his all-too-familiar horn about how videogames (and Grand Theft Auto in particular) train kids to become stone-cold killers.
“The video game industry gave him a cranial menu that popped up in the blink of an eye, in that police station,” says Thompson. “And that menu offered him the split-second decision to kill the officers, shoot them in the head, flee in a police car, just as the game itself trained them to do.”
While it’s fun to listen to Thompson prattle on about how the videogame industry (his views seem to echo theories in Huxley’s Brave New World, which is always a nice touch), 60 Minutes has taken the decency to throw in someone with education on the matters of psychology. David Walsh, child psychologist, gives a fair and balanced look at how other factors in Moore’s life contributed to his outburst.
“Walsh says this diminished impulse control becomes heightened in a person who has additional risk factors for criminal behavior. Moore had a profoundly troubled upbringing, bouncing back and forth between a broken home and a handful of foster families.”
Head on over to the article at the CBS website and take a look. It’s well worth a read, and offers a balanced both-sides-of-the-fence look at violence in the videogame industry.
Many thanks to zioxide for bringing the story to our attention.