More trouble is brewing over Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Devin Moore, an eighteen year old in Fayette, Alabama, is currently being tried for the murders of Ace Mealer, a 911 dispatcher, James Crump, a police officer, and Arnold Strickland, another police officer.
On June 7, 2003, Strickland brought Moore in on suspicion of stealing a car. Moore seemed calm through the process, but suddenly lunged at Officer Strickland and grabbed his .40-caliber Glock automatic. He shot him twice, once in the head. Officer Crump heard the shots and came to investigate what had happened. Moore fired three shots, again one in the head, at Crump. He continued walking down the hallway toward the emergency dispatcher. He shot Mealer five times, once in the head. He had grabbed a set of car keys on the way out and took off in a police cruiser. The entire crime took less than one minute.
After committing the crime, Moore is quoted saying, “Life is like a video game. Everybody’s got to die sometime.”
Moore is currently being tried for the crime. The defense is arguing insanity due to excessive video game play. Moore played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas day and night for months prior to the murder.
Steve Strickland, Arnold Strickland’s brother, and Ace Mealer’s parents are suing Moore, and Wal-Mart and Gamestop for selling the game to a minor. Take-Two and Sony are also being sued.
David Walsh, a child psychologist argues that repeated exposure to violent video games affects teens differently than it affects adults.
“…The teenage brain is different from the adult brain. The impulse control center of the brain, the part of the brain that enables us to think ahead, consider consequences, manage urges…that’s under construction during the teenage years. In fact, the wiring of that is not completed until the early twenties…And so when a young man with a developing brain, already angry, spends hours and hours and hours rehearsing violent acts, and then, and he’s put in this situation of emotional stress, there’s a likelihood that he will literally go to that familiar pattern that’s been wired repeatedly, perhaps thousands and thousands of times.”
Walsh says that Moore’s troubled childhood could have also contributed to diminished impulse control. “You know that not every kid that plays a violent video game is gonna turn to violence, And that’s because the don’t have all of those other risk factors going on. It’s a combination of risk factors, which come together in a tragic outcome.”
And now, words from Jack Thompson. “What we’re saying is that Devin Moore was, in effect, trained to do what he did. He was given a murder simulator…He bought the game as a minor. He played it hundreds of hours, which is primarily a cop-killing game. It’s our theory, which we think we can prove to a jury in Alabama, that, but for the video-game training, he would not have done what he did.”
Thompson points out that this is not the first crime associated with GTA. In Oakland, CA, detectives believe the game influenced a street gang to rob and kill six people. In Newport, TN, two teens told police the game influenced their decision to shoot at passing cars with a .22 caliber rifle, killing one person. To date, no court case has officially linked virtual and real violence.
Paul Smith, a First Amendment lawyer that has represented video game companies, does not believe the suit will get anywhere. “If you start saying that we’re going to sue people because one individual out there read their book or played their game and decided to become a criminal, there is no stopping point. It’s a huge new swath of censorship that will be imposed on the media.”
Keep checking back for more info on the Devin Moore case.