Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

4th August

Update: Robbery and Blame...

Thai student kills cabbie in robbery and blames Grand Theft Auto

A Thai student has stabbed a taxi driver to death supposedly acting out a robbery he copied from the online game Grand Theft Auto .

Neighbours called police in Bankok about 2.30am after being woken by a constantly blowing car horn and saw people struggling inside a pink taxi.

Police arrived and saw Polwat Chinno, 19, trying to steer the taxi backwards, but the street was a dead end. The teen locked himself in the car but they finally persuaded him to get out.

There was blood all over the vehicle. The body of the taxi driver, Kuan Pohkang was on the back seat. He had been stabbed about 10 times. Two sharp knives were found nearby.

Police said Polwat confessed to being addicted to the online game GTA and said killing seemed easy in the game. He imitated a scene where a criminal kills a driver for his car to escape police.

I needed money to play the game every day. My parents give me only 100 baht a day, which is not enough. I am also fed up with them fighting. They are civil servants and do not make good money, he said.

Today [Saturday] my mother gave me 500 baht, so in the evening I went to the Lotus superstore and bought knives. He flagged down a taxi and when it arrived at the destination, he pulled out a knife and held it against the driver's neck. He said he did not mean to kill him but the driver reached for a metal bar under a console and tried to hit him. He stabbed the driver several times, killing him, then dragged the body onto the back seat and sat behind the wheel.

He could not drive, but thought it would not be hard. He was still struggling with the car when police arrived.


5th August

Update: Deflecting Blame...

Thai distributor pulls Grand Theft Auto game

Distributors of Grand Theft Auto yesterday suspended sales in Thailand after a teenager allegedly killed a taxi driver in a bloody frenzy, re-enacting scenes from the blockbuster video game.

Police who caught the 18-year-old at the scene said he confessed to having planned the attack to find out if robbery was as easy as depicted in the violent game.

Phalawat Chinno, who played the game obsessively for hours every day, bought two knives and chose his 54-year-old victim carefully as he believed he would be too old to fight back, police said.

The secondary school student said the killing was a robbery that went wrong. New Era Interactive Media, the Thai distributors of Grand Theft Auto, which recently launched its fourth edition, has asked shops to withdraw copies from sale and video arcades to suspend the game.

We are sending out requests ... to outlets and shops to pull the games off their shelves and we will replace them with other games,
said Sakchai Chotikachinda, the marketing director of New Era.


6th August

Update: Grand Theft Auto Ban...

Thai government react to blame game

I have been seeing a lot of coverage on the killing of a taxi driver by a Thai teen who says he was inspired by the new release of the violent video game called Grand Theft Auto . The English language news stories left out much of the detail about the victim and the accused murderer. The Thai news had interviews of the families and other people involved.

The story is very sad for many reasons. On the victim's side, they are a poor family and the man was the only person making any income, and not much because driving a taxi does not pay very well. He became the chosen victim because he was older and smaller than the first taxi driver the killer approached.

The killer's family is also poor but the teen had always been known as polite and very nice, even getting the dek dee (good child) award at school. The mother was a house maid and the father a security guard. The kid was alone a lot and the parents never really knew what he was doing all that time he was playing violent video games.

The 18 year old confessed to the killing, which means he won't face the death penalty as some western media incorrectly reported. He gave a detailed account of how he planned for the robbery and chose the victim, although he said the killing was not originally part of the plan but he did it when the victim fought back.

The distributor of the game in Thailand has stopped all sales and is requesting that internet shops return the game for replacement with a different game.

I saw on TV this morning that GTA has been declared illegal. Police will search internet cafes and if any are found to be making the game available they will be fined 20,000 to 100,000 Baht.


7th August

Update: High Scoring Video Games...

Thailand recommends a list of violent games

As if pulling Grand Theft Auto IV from Thai shelves wasn’t overreacting, the Thai Ministry of Health has drawn up a shortlist of the ten most dangerous games.

1. GTA
2. Man Hunt
3. Scarface
4. 50 Cent - Bullet Proof
5. 300
6. The Godfather
7. Killer 7
8. Resident Evil 4
9. God of War
10. Hitman

Game Politics has cheekily pointed out that this is is exactly the same as that produced by Detroit Prosecutor Kym Worthy also used to blame all the world's ills on video games.


9th August

Update: Follow That Cabbie...

Spain cabbies call for games ban based on Thai killing

Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reports that an association of Spanish taxi drivers has called for a ban on Grand Theft Auto .

Josep Maria Go๑i, secretary general of the Catalan Taxi Federation, has requested that the Spanish government pull GTA titles off the market.

Go๑i makes it clear that the Taxi Federation's request is based on the Thailand murder case.

The cabbie spokesman didn't stop at GTA , however, calling for a ban on all games with a high level of violence or which "celebrate" drug trafficking or prostitution.

GameSpot points out: There are no actual missions in GTA IV which require players to rob, stab, or kill a taxi driver...

Malaysian Ban It

Based on article from

The head of a Malaysian consumer rights organization has called for a ban on Grand Theft Auto and similarly violent video games.

The move comes following the murder of a Bangkok cabbie last Saturday. Thai government officials were quick to link that killing to what they said was the 19-year-old suspect's Grand Theft Auto play.

In an op-ed for the Star Online, Mohamed Idris, president of the Consumers Association of Penang, writes: It was recently reported that the Thai authorities have banned a computer video game known as Grand Theft Auto... Violent video games and television programmes have previously been linked to expressions of violence and aggression in young viewers. It is time for the authorities to act.

If this particular video game is available in Malaysia, CAP calls on the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to immediately halt its sales and ban this game. The Ministry should also warn the public and any stocks that have already been sold should be recalled.


10th August

Update: GTA Brainstorm...

Thailand to investigate violent video games

The Thailand Department of Special Investigation will host a conference on violent computer games and youths on Thursday, in a bid to find measures to address the issue.

The move follows a brutal murder of a city cabbie by a schoolboy copying Grand Theft Auto. Experts will brainstorm ways to end this kind of behaviour.

No doubt some kneejerk policies will result


13th August

Update: Empowering the Vulnerable...

Thailand rants about copycat game violence

Creators of violent video games should be prosecuted if copycats take their content into real life.

It's high time game makers face the legal consequences of their creations, a top Thai government official says.

This reaction comes in the wake of a brutal slaying of a city taxi driver by a teenager obsessed with blood-and-guts shoot-'em-up game Grand Theft Auto .

When a player copycats a crime he or she sees in the game, the game maker should be prosecuted, says Somchai Jaroen-amnuaysuk, the deputy director of the Welfare Promotion, Protection and Empowerment of Vulnerable Groups Office.

Prosecutions will automatically force game makers to act more responsibly, Somchai says.

Dr Somprot Sarakosas, a former spokesman of the Human Security and Social Development Ministry, agrees the government should explore legal avenues against all parties responsible for such violence: At the same time, everyone, especially the Education Ministry, should make children aware that games and real life are two different things.

National Culture Commission chief Preecha Gunteeya says the government has to do something to control violence-packed games, including imposing a rating system. We must regulate gaming cafes, too he says.


16th August

Update: The Rating Game...

Thailand to implement age ratings for video games

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) will ask the Culture Ministry to form a panel to rate computer games, following the Aug 8 murder of a taxi driver by a teenage schoolboy.

Yannapol Youngyuen, head of the DSI's bureau of technology and cyber crime, suggested distributors of computer games be asked to help screen game content, saying the planned rating panel would find it very hard to keep pace with new computer games.

'Rating by the ministry has proceeded at a very slow pace. The ministry should study overseas ratings as a guideline and adjust them to suit Thai culture and values,' he said.

Police Colonel Yannapol also said there are many computer games which are more violent than GTA, such as those which focus on cop killing or rape. He maintained, however, that on-line games are not the major cause of teen problems.

Yannapol also  pledged to make a serious effort to suppress illegal on-line games.

Lertchai Kanpai, managing director of Asiasoft, said currently there are 57 games active in the Thai cyberspace. Though all of them passed Microsoft's screening, some are quite violent: A bigger threat, however, is illegal game software which bypasses the violence rating.


19th August

Comment: A Dangerous Game to Play...

Thai response to taxi driver murder rated K for knee jerk

Polwat Chinno killed taxi driver Kuan Pohkang with his bare fists and knives in a grisly 2am plan to steal the hard-earned money of his victim. The media descended on this story of bloody murder when the killer confessed, but pleaded that a video game made him do it. Authorities took him at his word, issued a hasty ban on exactly 10 games and vaguely promised new restrictions further down the line. Far from showing concern, this reaction emphasised the huge gap between the real technology revolution and what the country's leaders appear to know about it.

First of all, it is most troubling that authorities and the media latched on so quickly and conveniently to the alibi of a confessed, vicious killer.

They were far too quick to accept the word of Mr Polwat. He is an adult who told police he planned and carried out a reprehensible killing for a small amount of money. His claim that the video game Grand Theft Auto made him commit the crime sounds more like a novel legal defence than a credible motive. Tens of millions of people around the world play that game - tens of thousands in Bangkok.

Early evening on any given day, the top floors of the city's many shopping malls are filled with youths playing a myriad of computer games - many of them violent.

An earlier ban on this particular violent game would not have saved the murdered driver. More to the point, there is no evidence or reason to believe the ban will save any lives in the future.

The Public Health Ministry quickly assembled a list of Top 10 Violent Games - not by research or reason, but by a quick Googling in which bureaucrats accepted the first hit, an obscure list from a local US politician trying successfully to get his name in the newspapers and his face on the TV news in an election cycle.

Such a ban is also self-defeating, since new games come on the market regularly. In any case, a police ban is only another business hitch to the video pirates and shop owners involved in underground distribution.


4th September

Update: Thai Games Ban...

Players of violent political games ban violent fictional games

Video game repression has surged in Thailand following last month's killing of a taxi driver by a 19-year-old man who told police he was re-enacting Grand Theft Auto .

Jesada Chandraprasert  who pens Cnet's Technology Thailand blog, reports that five games have been officially banned by the Ministry of Culture:

  • Hitman
  • 300
  • Killer Seven
  • Hitman: Blood Money
  • Fifty Cent: Bullet Proof

In a story broken by GamePolitics, Thailand stole its list of "dangerous" games from an outdated list offered by Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy during the 2007 holiday season. The five banned games constitute half of the list.

Their official press release at the Government's Web site clearly states that they see gaming as a problem which is obsessive and has an (adverse) effect on the behavior of children and teens....

Chandraprasert also reports on a recent government and law enforcement conference which was held to discuss the video game issue - with ominous overtones:

The conference, held at the Queen Sirikit Convention Center on August 21, had an audience of over 1,500 people, mostly public officials and the police. The main focus of this conference was to find solutions to unregistered gaming stores (basically an Internet cafe like a setup where people can go in and game all day long on computers, not the traditional arcade) and "dangerous games". Their aim is to eliminate the "dangers" associated with said problem within 90 days of the conference.


7th October

Update: Survey Games...

Thai newspapers addicted to nonsense surveys

A survey from the Thai Culture Ministry revealed that children spent around 2 hours a day playing computer games. About 80% of them choose the combat-style, action-packed games, some of which come with graphic and violent images. The addiction can affect their personality as they become more prone to bursts of anger and violence. Without proper guidance, some are unable to distinguish between fantasy and the real world.

But why do children prefer to spend hours and hours playing these games? A survey conducted last year showed that:

  • 79% of youngsters said they became addicted to computer games to relieve stress
  • 68% said they were lonely
  • 21% cent said that they wanted to improve the computer skills
  • 18% said they wanted to meet new friends in cyberspace.

[So 80% of Thai youngsters suffer from stress? Strange that no youngsters play games simply because they are fun]

Now that the youngsters have told us about their problems, it's time for the adults to step in to help them. The adults should provide them with better and constructive recreation activities to help them deal with stress. Constructive activities such as sports or music for instance can also help them develop their thinking and personalities during their formative years.

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