Sunday Editorial Roundup: Journalist Examines Portland GTA Ad Controversy

December 3, 2006 -
As reported by GamePolitics, mass-transit officials in Portland, Oregon recently removed ads for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories from Tri-Met buses and trains.

Writing in The Oregonian (and reprinted in Mass Transit Magazine), columnist Jerry Boone makes reference to the Fayette, Alabama case in which 18-year-old GTA player Devin Moore gunned down two police officers and a police dispatcher:
Grand Theft Auto... has been linked to similar crime sprees around the globe...

Players dismiss the criticism, saying hundreds of thousands of people play "GTA" who don't go on stealing, killing and raping binges.

Most don't. Once in a while, someone does.

The advertisements go contrary to TriMet's standard that says it won't accept an ad that "promotes or encourages or appears to promote or encourage, unlawful or illegal behavior or activities."

Dropping the ads is a hard hit for TriMet. Value of the contract was $71,250.

Value of a cop's life: Priceless.

Comments

"Grand Theft Auto… has been linked to similar (to Fayette, Alabama triple police murder) crime sprees around the globe.."

No. GTA has been CLAIMED to be linked to such crime sprees, but every time someone has to put proof behind these claims, the accusors shrivel over and crawl away in shame.

"Most don’t. Once in a while, someone does."

And who exactly made this reporter a Master of the human Psyche?
Yet more stupidity rearing it's head in the quest for simple headliners.

I'm going to start penning Tom Selleck moustaches on subway advertisements in order to promote sexual healing because baby, that's all you need.

He is right though, we as gamers really need to stop raping so much. We all know it's a common problem. You know, the rape.. that we do.. in our parents basement... alone.

Someone needs to fund a study on what causes people to write half-assed editorials.

This doesn't have much to do with this topic but it just occurred to me. Since the Wii's controller requires you to aim in many first person shooters, would that strengthen the argument about violent games teaching kids how to kill? I mean games like Red Steel and other games where the Wii-mote can be used to shoot, could possibly bring some (minimal) harm to the games industry if you think about it.

Just something I thought of while reading this.

Could it seemingly strengthen the argument against games? Sure, it doesn't seem to take much to convince politicians. Whether it gives merit to the argument, I don't know. I'm not a guns expert but I imagine a gun handles much more differently. Weight, positioning, the force from firing, all would probably be quite different. The Wii's controller is no different than a person picking up a stick and going "bang".

It’s very common to hear someone say something to the tune of “GTA promotes violence and unlawful behavior.”

No, it doesn’t. At all.

None of the GTA games in any conceivable way suggest or even imply that players should stop what they're doing and go outside and kill cops or rape women. It’s absurd to suggest that it does.

It’s a video game. It has no message beyond “play me, have fun, and buy my sequels.”


Andrew Eisen

I just wrote this dummy a nice little letter. Not as stinging as the ones to Julie Benay, but hopefully still effective enough to elicit a response. If anyone else wants to have a go at him:

jerryboone@news.oregonian.com

FYI, he looks like he's about 70 years old, so that might explain some of his comments.

"Players dismiss the criticism, saying hundreds of thousands of people play “GTA” who don’t go on stealing, killing and raping binges. Most don’t. Once in a while, someone does."

Try millions, and try causation. Unless you can actually show that someone goes on a stealing, killing, and raping binge because they played GTA, GTA is not even remotely responsible. Whatever happened to personal responsibility, anyway?

...hundreds of thousands of people play Monopoly who don’t go on stealing, killing and raping binges.
Most don’t. Once in a while, someone does.

...hundreds of thousands of people eat spaghetti who don’t go on stealing, killing and raping binges.
Most don’t. Once in a while, someone does.

...hundreds of thousands of people breath oxygen who don’t go on stealing, killing and raping binges.
Most don’t. Once in a while, someone does.

...hundreds of thousands of people WRITE SHITTY NEWS ARTICLES who don’t go on stealing, killing and raping binges.
Most don’t. Once in a while, someone does.

"columnist Jerry Boone makes reference to the Fayette, Alabama case in which 18-year-old GTA player Devin Moore gunned down two police officers and a police dispatcher:"

Sooooo, it couldn't be the fact he was raised by an abusive stepfather and a drug-addicted mother that drove him to crime. It had to be GTA. It's always GTA, and before it existed, people lived in harmony and held hands.

And people wonder the young generation hates our current society so much.

Oh noes, a few postal employees went on a rampage and killed a lot of their coworkers. All mail must stop. Forever. We can't afford to lose more mailmen. Is the price of mail really worth it? [/sarcasm]

When interrogated, 85% of the prisonners of a New-York state prison said that they did not play video games compared to 15% who did. If we look at these statistics, it shows that people who do not play video games have a higher chance of commiting a criminal act and go to prison.

Of course, this study isnt real, but to me it makes as much sense as "Most don’t. Once in a while, someone does." and presenting this argument as factual.

@Arcadia & KTP

KTP said it well, it doesn’t seem to take much to convince politicians or anti-videogames activists. Remember that JT said of the PS2 dual shock controller, something like "it gives the player a pleasurable buzz to the hands while he learns how to kill".

"Journalist dismiss the criticism, saying hundreds of thousands of people read the Oregonian who don’t go on stealing, killing and raping binges.

Most don’t. Once in a while, someone does."

If anyone writes to jerryboone@news.oregonian.com this makes has much sense.

His argument makes sense if you presuppose that violent games cause people to do violent things. But they don't, so he's wrong. End of story.

I'm also sick of saying that any game "promotes" or "encourages" violence. By that reasoning, any movie, book (including the Bible), or other work of art with any measure of violent themes "promotes" violence. That's just stupid.

'The advertisements go contrary to TriMet’s standard that says it won’t accept an ad that “promotes or encourages or appears to promote or encourage, unlawful or illegal behavior or activities.” '

It encourages people to buy M-rated video games. Last I checked, that isn't unlawful or illegal. Sounds like this guy's a sucker to the hype. Remember the good old days when there weren't nearly as many reporters who didn't make an effort? You know, the guys that go on relentless crusades to find the truth, like in Capote?

Ah well, at least we have the reliable GP and its correspondents.

Before GTA, there were a very slim minority of yahoos out there who went on cop killing binges.

After GTA, this fact remains, they just have something new to blame it on (after all, it's common sense that violent people will seek out violent entertainment).

It's idiotic to think that the existence of a video game turns a completely well adjusted person into a cop killer.

What's priceless is the existence of the First Amendment.

Many readers of this newspaper dismiss charges saying that most people don't go on book burning rampages. Most don't, some do.

The amount of money raised by being a fascist newspaper contributor? Prolly $0.02 a word or so.

The value of our rights and sanity being in tact? Priceless.

Players dismiss the criticism, saying hundreds of thousands of people play “GTA” who don’t go on stealing, killing and raping binges.

Most don’t. Once in a while, someone does.

Because we as a thinking people should ban games/media/free thought
because it
1.Offends others.
2.MIGHT cause SOME to be violent(as ALL forms of media do).
3.Can be not be seen by children.
4.show law enforcement/people in power in a bad light.


Don't even see the domino effect in this? games are media if ban them you start the domino's going down that slippery slope,frist games are baned because of various outcry's then movies and music and such and then final when theres nothing else to take they will finish it off with free thought/speech they already nixed free expression when they baned media.
------
Dropping the ads is a hard hit for TriMet. Value of the contract was $71,250.

Value of a cop’s life: Priceless.

So a "cops life" is worth losing free thought/speech/expression over? whats stopping them from killing all media because it offends police the government of the fascists fundamentalists in goverment?



really....get over it you can not ban games or treat them as a "worse" form of "media" stop and think about it they still have ads for R rated movies they are breaking their own rule and yet games are the great evil because it had to be removed for following the rule in place? GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!!!

So according to his logic, anything that has the potential to kill must be stopped. Alright No more Guns, we cant be having those violent TV shows. You know Pens are pretty violent. Cant have Pens. No pens.

Does anyone know where one could find statistics on cop-killing crimes? I ask this because I think the annual fall/decline of such a murder crime would show no reflection to the game.

And since I don't have a Playstation, I don't have GTA. Does anyone here though recall rape as an option to do in the game? I never heard of such, and if it were, it would be in the news as much as the killing in the game.

Then again, this may be just another example of yellow journalism. This man may belive the this poorly referenced support of the ad removal, but he may also not care less. Considering the audience the article is aimed for, do you really think the target readers would approve denial of video game voilence?

Major US involved wars could have their beginings traced back to yellow journalism, so I doubt they hold concern over this induustry they know little about.

When the media reports on a crime and then a copycat killer repeats it in order to steal the spotlight, do we get to hold rags like the Oregonian responsible?

The entire editorial can be found on the OregonLive web site. It is a very poorly written article. The two page article cites no sources, and has no quotes except for one from a regretful TriMet spokeswoman. The rest, and I kid you not, is literally "Police officers say," "Rockstar says," "Um, sure."

It's called journalism, Boone. Do a little research and earn that fat paycheck for doing what thousands of bloggers do for free everyday.

And always be suspicious of the newspaper with the editorial segment on their web page that does not invite feedback.

MachShot
I think its a misnomer paying a prostitute+killing her=rape
Unless theres a mission that involves rape of some kind that I don't know of there is no rape in GTA.

"hundreds of thousands of people play “GTA” who don’t go on stealing, killing and raping binges.

Most don’t. Once in a while, someone does."

Oh sure. I agree.

Just like how hundreds of thousands of people listen to the Beatles, who don't start murderous cults. Once in a while, someone does.

Hundreds of thousands of people watch Jodie Foster movies, who don't try to assassinate the President to impress her. Once in a while, someone does.

Hundreds of thousands of people live in the vicinity of dogs, who don't shoot up their neighborhoods. Once in a while, someone does.

Hundreds of thousands of people apply to art school, who don't take over a country and use its army to commit genocide. Once in a while, someone does.

I find it somewhat interesting that no one tries to link video games to a LACK of violence.
If you look at the US statistics on violent crime. Youth violence has actually DROPPED since the introduction of the Playstation. Video games actually have the opposite effect than the politicians are promoting.
Ever wonder why? Think about this... GTA “promotes or encourages or appears to promote or encourage, unlawful or illegal behavior or activities.” IN THE GAME. The people who would possibly go out and "go on stealing, killing and raping binges" don't go out and do that... they stay in and do it in the virtual world.
Not that I'm the type of person who would do that kind of thing... but even if I were playing the game and doing it, it is extremely unlikely that I would go out to commit such crimes in real life since I am currently involved with the game and the real world counterpart won't get me any further in the game (and would require a heck of a lot more effort with no reward whatsoever).

when will these idiots learn to read the inside cover of the game manuals? If they did, they'd learn that the game does NOT endorse, encourage or promote real-life violence.

It’s a video game. It has no message beyond “play me, have fun, and buy my sequels.”

Andrew Eisen

Not true, ever listen to the radio ads in GTA? I heard one ad that mocked the anti-smoking crusade "I think I'm going to have a smoke. MURDERER!!!! THERE ARE CHILDREN HERE " and there are several other radio ads that mocked western culture and other things in particular. There are messages in other game too, when it comes to stroyline.

It seems to me that the journalists and police are just happy to have something to blame all of these crimes on. Not to mention, these bullshit stories will get the various news programs the ratings they need. I play gta, but have never popped a cap in whitey.

A cop's life: priceless
A soldier's life: just as priceless (maybe more)
Freedom of speech: worth the lives of thousands of soliders.

http://www.oregonlive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/metro_west_news/1163818...

An letter to the editor in response. I wonder if the editorial writer bothered to read it?

The criminals are going to do it anyway. This just gives them the ideas. Before video games people still committed crimes, they just didn't have video games to come up with cool new ideas to hurt people. Video games and TV shows are entertainment and supposed to be something that we would not do normally. We live vicariously though video games. Leave video games alone.

The letter was well written, as well as the thoughts were well stated. Unfortunatley, I think that if the writer even did bother to read it, it wouldn't have any affect on his technophobic (if that's a word) attitude.

Millions of people drive cars.
There are thousands of deaths as the result.

There are far less deaths caused by GTA.

"Value of the contract was $71,250.
Value of a cop’s life: Priceless."

Soundbites like this really tick me off. Dropping the GTA ads does not save a cop's life, disirregardless of whether you think GTA incites violent behaviour. It is not a safety measure. The value of a bulletproof vest that can actually save someone's life if they got shot is important. The value of a guardrail erected around the Portland Pit of Rusty Spikes is important.

Value of trying to prove that GTA causes real-world violence? $510,000 plus interest.

These games don't influence any body to do anything. No cop has ever been killed because of a violent video game and violent video games should be advertised all over the place. It makes the world better and look better too. These advertisments, for violent video games, are good and need to be adveritsed. They don't cause cops to be killed. I bet even some cops play these games probably.

Hey, the clueless dummy wrote back, check it out:

Mr. Shintaku:

Thanks for taking the time to write. I'll addresss only a few of your comments, as the other ones are so off base they aren't worth the effort and it would be like pouring methanol on a barbecue.

Obviously, you are a gamer. Obviously, I am not. You got that right. Congrats.

I also just turned 60. Believe me, if I was pushing 70 I'd be home playing computer games and not going to work every day.

Lastly, simply search for GTA and hot coffee...I assume you know how to use Google...and see what comes up. You don't need a secret code to see the GTA star and his girlfriend is a variety of sexual encounters. Even an old guy like me found it. And I didn't have to look very hard...and guys my age can't find anything on the computer that takes more than three four keystrokes.

You may be right on Devin Moore. Perhaps if his folk bought him Whack-A-Mole he'd have been hired by Orkin.

-- boone



>>> Mitch Shintaku 12/03/06 4:37 AM >>>
Mr. Boone,

I've been following the developments of the GTA ads and Trimet, and I think Trimet was right to pull the ads...however, I believe they were right because the environment for the product ad wasn't appropriate (a public transit), not because the game is at all a deadly menace. Your op-ed seems to be focused on the supposed connection between GTA and actual crime instead of Trimet's issues, and this is what I have a problem with. You can have your opinion and write about it, but you better come correct with some concrete facts to support your position.

The Devin Moore case is commonly cited by proponents of game censorship and regulation, as if the mere fact that someone claimed "a video game made me do it" would hold up in a court of law. I could murder my neighbors and say that watching Platoon inspired me. Do you think I would walk while the movie producers went to jail? Devin Moore was a piece of trash ghetto monkey with no soul, but he was also a piece of trash ghetto monkey who grew up in an environment rampant with poverty and negative emotions. I don't suppose any of that had to do with his slipping over the edge. Those who have really looked into the Devin Moore case know that the judge refused to hear a single word about the idea of GTA being part of the culpability, no matter how much fools like Jack Thompson wished it so. By the way, he was 18, not 16. The relatives of the deceased will lose, or at the most will get a small settlement, because there is no precedent to support their claim against Rockstar or the retailer, and their only evidence is the testimony of Devin Moore himself, who gave that idiotic quote in a lame attempt to sound cool. I can't think of a single game where dying is required to complete said game. What does the retailer need to do, require full psyche evaluations before they sell a game? Ridiculous.

I also wondered about these crime sprees that GTA is "linked" to. Which ones are you talking about? I can't think of any, but I can think of a few that SOME people THOUGHT were linked. Until a video game is proven in a court of law to have been DIRECTLY responsible for a crime committed, no link technically exists, only the one in certain people's heads, and I can say that because the burden of proof is always on the prosecution.

Equally as disturbing to me are your references to the Hot Coffee mod. Now judging from your picture, you look like you're pushing 70, which would place you about three generations behind the times compared to the average gamer age (30, which is my age). So, maybe I shouldn't be too surprised at some of your comments. Are you really ignorant enough to believe that knowing how to turn on a computer equates to being able to hack into a game's code and mod the content? Do YOU know how? If you don't, you have no place making that kind of inference. And who are you to judge the veracity of Rockstar's claim? If those scenes were meant to be viewed all along, why are they only accessible via 3rd party hacking (not a simple cheat code), and why do the scenes themselves look so unfinished? It's more likely that Rockstar changed their minds about the scene midway through production, but couldn't alter the code without destroying thousands of man-hours of previous work.

Finally, you cite one example of a guy depriving himself until he died. But millions of people don't. Will you tell us next that the Washington Generals were a good team because they beat the Harlem Globetrotters once? Or maybe you'd like to just ban everything you don't like? If you want to talk about Trimet or the ads themselves, fine, which by the way, don't show a picture of you shooting a cop. But don't use it as a stepstool to your own personal soapbox about the evils of Grand Theft Auto, especially if you're going to support your case with outdated half-truths, assumptions and irrelevancies.

Mitch Shintaku
Sacramento, CA

"Not true, ever listen to the radio ads in GTA? I heard one ad that mocked the anti-smoking crusade “I think I’m going to have a smoke. MURDERER!!!! THERE ARE CHILDREN HERE ” and there are several other radio ads that mocked western culture and other things in particular."

Apparently someone is unfamiliar with satire. Also, the anti-smoking (just like the anti-pot) campaigns deserved to be mocked because they are so ridiculous and off the mark. They try to scare kids into not smoking rather than presenting them with a solid argument (and this is particularly true of the anti-pot campaigns). Oh, and this is coming from a guy who doesn't smoke either of the two.

This is one thing I do not get. Everyone is quick to point out crime sprees are linked to GTA (which is still subject to proof), without thinking of one thing: GTA sells alot more than many other games. Seriously, if violent game A sells to 50,000 people, and GTA is played by 8,000,000 people, there just stands to reason someone with criminal tendancies is more likely to be playing GTA. It is just probability.
These studies are crap for that reason. I would like to see a study linking violent crimes to players of madden, mario, sonic, and other big name million seller franchises. I would wager that the numbers would be somewhat similar. It would make sense, but then again, what anti-game crusader would want to admit their studies are bogus

from hayabusa75:
"Lastly, simply search for GTA and hot coffee…I assume you know how to use Google…and see what comes up. You don’t need a secret code to see the GTA star and his girlfriend is a variety of sexual encounters. Even an old guy like me found it. And I didn’t have to look very hard…and guys my age can’t find anything on the computer that takes more than three four keystrokes."

Is it just me, or is he blaming Rockstar because people use third party modifications and post pictures of the results? Making it possible to see said pictures without inputing cheat codes? I'm just mystified on what point he possibly might be making with that paragraph.
I'd also have a lot more respect for his reply if not for that "your comments are completely off base" jab. hayabusa, your original letter was perhaps a bit harsher in tone than I would have written, but in the reply this guy seems to just dismiss your entire letter because you're 'off-base' and he'd rather ignore it.

Thanks for taking the time to write. I’ll addresss only a few of your comments, as the other ones are so off base they aren’t worth the effort and it would be like pouring methanol on a barbecue.

Does anyone else think that he actually wound up responding to some of hayabusa's more off-base points?

@Benji:

He's inferring that Rockstar deliberately made the content easy to access, which I guess is morally reprehensible in his mind.

This is par for the course as far as the typical responses you will get from the anti-game sector. They all want to talk shit about the games and their respective companies and simultaneously put us down, but they never want to debate the issues. I wrote back and told him that his sarcastic dismissal of my arguments only weakened his own credibility and that he's pretty much just like the rest of the sackless critics out there who just say whatever they want but don't want to back it up when someone calls them on it.

You thought that was harsh? Heh, I thought I toned it down! =)

“promotes or encourages or appears to promote or encourage, unlawful or illegal behavior or activities”

Wow, that's VERY broad if something like the GTA ads can fall afoul of it. Advertisements for any number of Shakespeare plays performed in downtown Portland would be off limits (teen suicide, incest, and patricide are all popular themes in his works).

This editorial would not pass a basic english class. The author provides no citations or references for his assertions at all.

[...] GamePolitics has a roundup of the Portland, Oregon public transportation system removing GTA: Vice City Stories advertisements. They’ve also linked to The Oregonian’s columnist Jerry Boone’s editorial about how GTA might cause a small percentage of gamers to go on “stealing, killing and raping binges.” At the end Boone says the transit system lost $71,250 removing the ads, but the value of a cop’s life is “priceless.” Boone is right, a small percentage of gamers might kill cops, because it never happens the other way around. Wonder how much the life of a dead unarmed kid and his bullet filled dog are worth? [...]

Hello, do you even know Portland? Who wrote this shit ass article? Cops kill people here in Portland, ALL THE TIME. And 95% of the time, they're unarmed when the police gun them down or beat them to death.

Your editorial reads like it was written by a 14 year old who got his "facts" off of the internet. Do us a favor, and don't write crap like this again.

That $71,2250 might have actually helped our broke ass state/public transportation system out.

Oh no, please tell me that guy didn't bring the hot coffee mod up.

It's a third party mod that unlocks hidden content of two adults having sex, no genitalia visible, in an M rated game. It is a text book example of a complete non-issue.

It reminds me of the hilarious moral panic that happened when Janet showed her boob on super bowl. Obviously children were traumatized for life, otherwise she wouldn't have to sit on TV later and apologize while looking like someone who had killed a bunch of kids DUI.

Sigh...

I could apply his logic to Jodie Foster movies: Most people who watch Jodie Foster movies don't go around trying to murder our presidents. Once in a while someone does.

Should we therefore try to ban Jodie Foster movies to protect our presidents?

Just thought id add (and sorry if someone allready has) that the games advertising around the australian (specifically in my city of melbourne) public transport system as well. So far i havent seen any issues raised, and were the country with no R rating for games.
 
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