A murder committed by a Thai teenager in Bangkok has been linked to Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto
games. The teenager, Polwat Chinno (aged 18 or 19), allegedly stabbed Kuan Pohkang, a 54 year old taxi driver, around 10 times in an attempt to imitate car-jackings in Grand Theft Auto
This in turn has lead to the game being pulled from shop shelves in Thailand - and calls from government officials to toughen up video game regulation. Ladda Thangsupachai, director of the terrifyingly named Cultural Surveillance Centre, commented, "This time-bomb has already exploded and the situation could get worse.
"Today it is a cab driver, but tomorrow it could be a video game shop owner."
The Cultural Surveillance Centre is part of Thailand's Ministry of Culture. It keeps an eye on the media and, in a nutshell, looks for things it believes need censoring. SPOnG is, frankly, suspicious of any organisation set up to censor any and all media. The Centre has no direct power to ban media content, but contacts the police where it feels action is required.
The ministry is reportedly already pushing for tighter controls on games, including regulation on how long people can play them in public arcades. The apparent GTA-based murder comes at a strangely convenient time for the Ministry.
In terms of the murder itself, police were called at around 2:30am on Sunday morning. They arrived at the scene of the disturbance to find Chinno attempting to reverse the taxi down an alley. According to the Bangkok Post
, Chinno cannot drive - he simply thought it would not be difficult.
After stabbing Pohkang he had pulled his body onto the back seat. Two knives were found nearby and the taxi was covered in blood. Chinno had locked himself in the taxi, but police convinced him to get out.
Commenting on Chinno's motivation, chief investigator Veeravit Pipattanasak stated, "He said he wanted to find out if it was as easy in real life to rob a taxi as it was in the game."
Chinno himself has been quoting as saying, "I needed money to play the game every day. My parents give me only 100 baht (£1.51) a day, which is not enough. I am also fed up with them fighting.
"Today [Saturday] my mother gave me 500 baht (£7.55), so in the evening I went to the Lotus superstore and bought knives."
He also apparently said he did not want to kill the driver, but after having a knife held to his throat the driver reached for a metal bar and Chinno stabbed him. Following the capture of the teen, police reportedly said that he showed no signs of mental problems when they were interviewing him.
While little is being made of Chinno's quote regarding being angry at his parents, a lot is being made - especially by the Thai press - about the game itself. A strange piece of reporting given that at no point is Chinno himself reported as mentioning the high-profile game by name.
Also, despite police comments to the contrary, it also doesn't seem that someone who thinks a car jacking will be easy based on a game, or who assumes that driving will be picked up in the time it takes to steal a car, is completely possessed of their faculties.
He will face death by lethal injection if convicted.Sources: Bangkok Post, Reuters, Aljazeera.net