A story receiving widespread media play this morning details the arrest of a 19-year-old Thai man who allegedly robbed and murdered a Bangkok cab driver. According to police sources, Polwat Chino told investigators he was re-enacting a scene from Grand Theft Auto IV.
Reuters reports that GTA IV has been removed from retail shelves and arcades (we’re assuming that in Thailand players can play console games for a fee). From the article:
Police in Bangkok said that the youth "had wanted to find out if it was as easy in real life to rob a taxi as it was in the game."
…Chino, described by his parents as polite and diligent… had paid to play the game at a local shop in Bangkok, and said he had needed more cash to continue playing it and that the taxi driver looked like an easy target.
GP: So, was he re-enacting a scene from the game or just looking for someone to rob? Reuters continues:
A senior official at Thailand’s Culture Ministry, which has been pursuing tougher regulation of violent games such as Grand Theft Auto, said the murder was a wake-up call for authorities, and urged parents to take note of what their children were playing.
"This time-bomb has already exploded and the situation could get worse," the official was quoted as saying. "Today it is a cab driver but tomorrow it could be a video game shop owner." Thai authorities have been pushing for a rating system on video games, as well as restrictions on how long youths can spend playing games in video arcades.
GP: Given the Thai government’s history of censorship, this case will likely not receive the type of media scrutiny and follow-up that it deserves. Not to rush to judgment, but the situation as described in the news report (including the very convenient photo at left of the suspect re-enacting his crime for police) couldn’t be more perfect for a government seeking a justification for a video game crackdown.
We also note that the suspect, who reportedly stabbed the victim 10 times, is wearing what appears to be a very clean white shirt (i.e., no blood). Stab someone ten times from arm’s length and closer and you’re going to get blood on your clothing. And yes, he could have changed clothes, but we don’t really know.