Censorship

Grand Theft Auto (the Game) No Longer Legal in Thailand

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From AFP, a standard-issue story in which government officials link video games to crime and then order a crackdown:

Thai authorities banned the Grand Theft Auto computer game on Tuesday, after a disturbed teenager allegedly killed a taxi driver in a copycat crime.

Following news earlier Tuesday that the game's distributor would no longer stock the game, Thai police told AFP they had officially banned it because of "obscene" content.

So far, so good. Police will work with "the Culture Ministry" (brrr) to arrest vendors of the game, who can be put in jail for three years and fined up to $180 dollars (?); online vendors can get five years and a $3,000 fine because it's really vastly more evil to sell things via the intertubes.

But here's the weird part of the story:

An 18-year-old high school student has been charged with robbery and possession of a weapon, and could face the death penalty or life imprisonment if convicted.

Police said the teenager had become incensed when he could not afford to play the game, which encourages gamers to kill and steal cars in order to accrue points.

So he didn't get to play the game and he still pulled off a copycat crime? That's some powerful video game (and it's not even the newest iteration, GTA IV, which hasn't been released in Thailand). The key word at the start of the story is the murderer was disturbed.

More here.

Best Grand Theft Auto quote ever: "Grand Theft Auto…encourages them [children] to have sex with prostitutes and then murder them."—Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), USA Today, July 14, 2005.

Does fantasy violence lead to real-world violence? All signs point to no.

reason on GTA.

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  1. If video games are this influential, why don’t they make one where the objective is to obey all the laws? Surely, crime would cease for kids.

  2. Following news earlier Tuesday that the game’s distributor would no longer stock the game, Thai police told AFP they had officially banned it because of “obscene” content.

    Wait, did the kid become incensed that he couldn’t buy it because they banned/ceased stocking it that day? By their own logic, aren’t they at fault?

  3. “If video games are this influential, why don’t they make one where the objective is to obey all the laws? Surely, crime would cease for kids.”

    There’s a game called “A Force More Powerful” where the objective is to cause social change through non-violent means. The only thing that would have made that game worse is if the disc turned into acid when in your drive and melted your computer. Strike that. It’s bad. Really, really bad.

  4. I dunno … I definitely see a link (between GTA and real world violence).

    In fact, just the other day I ran around the public square with a flame thrower, spiraling about while innocent people caught fire and ran away screaming. Sure, the police caught me, but I lost a few points and was released in seconds. That’s when I went for the rocket launcher…

  5. I wonder when they will be banning the characters from visiting Thailand? Have to check and see if bernieS and Emmanuel have tested that one yet.

  6. Thai cop:

    “Yeah, we’ve got a couple of really vicious kids here. When I caught them, not only were they playing Grand Theft Auto, both of the punks were chewing gum!”

  7. When I caught them, not only were they playing Grand Theft Auto, both of the punks were chewing gum!

    “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubblegum.”

  8. My generation saved the earth from Space Invaders and Asteroids. And now you want to undermine that achievement by denying the link between video games and behavior. You ungrateful bastards.

  9. Yeah! Well, my generation saved the world from game-show and board game themed video games. I think they’ve been all but eradicated now, haven’t they?

  10. Young boys in Bankok should be out on the street working, not rotting their brains with GTA violence.

  11. Episiarch,

    I’m giving you a choice: either put on these glasses or start eatin’ that trash can.

  12. Wait, non-virtual underaged hookers are still legal in Thailand, right?

    Good, no reason to cancel the vacation plans.

  13. Episiarch,

    Okay. All right. Okay. [Insert very lengthy fight scene.]

  14. “Police said the teenager had become incensed when he could not afford to play the game, which encourages gamers to kill and steal cars in order to accrue points.”

    Dumb kid. Doesn’t he understand that poor children in Thailand are supposed to sell themselves into prostitution to get the things they want? Their country is the child sex capital of the world and they are concerned about banning video games. Yeah that makes sense.

  15. Well, I blame my addiction to pills and fresh fruit on Pac Man. On the streets back in the 80’s the used to call it “Chasing the Blue Ghost”.

    It was horrible, guys with shaved heads, girls with pink bows wandering around the city like it was a maze. We’d have nicknames for the straights around us. ‘Inky’ for the street hustlers, ‘Blinky’ for the corporate types that stared at us, ‘Pinky’ for the pretty girls, and ‘Clyde’ for the narcs and police.

  16. Police said the teenager had become incensed when he could not afford to play the game, which encourages gamers to kill and steal cars in order to accrue points.

    Must they always say this?

    There aren’t any points to be earned in the GTA series. There’s money to be earned, but not points. And you don’t earn money from randomly stealing cars.

  17. You dirty motherfucker!

  18. I don’t play video games but everytime I read one of these stories I feel like I am missing out. Can you buy GTA to play on a computer or do you have to have a game consul? I will not buy a consul, but for $40 on a computer game, I feel like I should give it a try. Frankly stealing cars and running a virtual prostitution ring sounds pretty fun. Beats TV.

  19. Take a look. Put them on.

  20. Man, I told you, I don’t want to be in-VOLVED!

  21. John, it’s console-only for now but it should eventually be released for PC. You’ll need a pretty jacked PC, though.

  22. Best Grand Theft Auto quote ever: “Grand Theft Auto…encourages them [children] to have sex with prostitutes and then murder them.”-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), USA Today, July 14, 2005.

    [Insert tasteless Vince Foster joke here.}

  23. Brother, life’s a bitch. . .and she’s back in heat.

  24. Oh, wait, this is not being imposed on GTA-SA? Damn, so close to being an outlaw yet so far.

    It does seem that the Thai version of the Writ of Outlawry is a pretty fast track, so there is always hope.

  25. I’ve walked a white line my entire life, I’m not about to screw that up.

  26. The line in the middle of the road.
    That’s the worst place to drive.

  27. Ya know, I think that it’s actually some other nation that has chewing gum prohibition- Perhaps Singapore?

  28. Episiarch, John,
    GTA I,II,III, GTA Vice City, and GTA San Andreas are all available for Windows PC. In fact, the “Hot Coffee” cheat was first discovered on the PC version. Rockstar Games had to release a new version with the graphic sex taken out but with the graphic violence left intact.

  29. Robert, I was only referring to GTA4.

  30. Listen, man, I don’t like anyone following me if I don’t know who they are.

  31. I dunno … I definitely see a link (between GTA and real world violence).

    In fact, just the other day I ran around the public square with a flame thrower,

    There isn’t a flamethrower in GTA4.

    The grenades rock, though. If you can afford them. And don’t drop them on your own foot. (Stupid right trigger control.)

  32. There are a bunch of versions of GTA for the PC. GTA used to be PC-only back when most every console title was grade school friendly.

  33. Brother, life’s a bitch. . .and she’s back in heat.

    Hmm…But is she cute? (“hot” for those under 30)

  34. John – Now that 4 has come out, you can find the older versions for cheap. I picked up a copy of GTA3: San Andreas for PC a couple months ago for $10 at Walmart or Best Buy.

  35. BP,

    I got my copy of GTA-SA free at release time.

  36. Guy – even better. Did you get w/ purchase of 4, though? I generally wait until games are a year old or so, so I can pay $10 or $20 instead of $40 / $50.

  37. Also, IIRC, a guy was extradited to Thailand because he had sex with an underage girl there. So I think they only allow adults to legally act as sex workers.

  38. BP,

    I don’t play computer games, I just happen to be a voice in that one so I got a free copy and it is still in the wrapper.

    No other compensation, it was my pleasure to contribute almost-free to the advancement of the arts.

  39. I knew HC had it out for GTA, but that quote is a real gem.

    I think it’s more likely that GTA leads to shitty driving than to random violence.

  40. The pc version of SA was terrible.

  41. Best Grand Theft Auto quote ever: “Grand Theft Auto…encourages them [children] to have sex with prostitutes and then murder them.”-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), USA Today, July 14, 2005.

    I can see how Ms. Clinton might understand the nigh-uncontrollable urge to commit murder after a man with the emotional maturity of a child has sex with a busty intern prostitute, but isn’t this a teeensy bit of misguided projection?

  42. Does fantasy violence lead to real-world violence?

    Just the other day, I stole a Turismo, and when the police chased after me I riddled their car with bullets from my Gatling gun, then shot down their copter with a rocket launcher. They kept into running into walls and couldn’t figure out how to get around them, so I was able to steal a tank and drive around blowing up dozens of cars. Then a cop arrested me and I thought I would go to jail, but it turned out my gf was a cop so they gave me back my rocket launcher and let me go.

  43. The pc version of SA was terrible.

    Dude. Hot Coffee.

  44. I suspect that RockStar will be welcoming this move, considering that %99 of the copies of GTA sold in Thailand are illegal bootlegs.

  45. “Also, IIRC, a guy was extradited to Thailand because he had sex with an underage girl there. So I think they only allow adults to legally act as sex workers.”

    Actually even adult prostitution isn’t technically legal there. But the authorities tolerate it as long as it happens in red light districts.

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