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Pre-reading: Video-game Maker Blamed in '04 Killing

  • When are you old enough to play violent games like Grand Theft Auto?
  • Should there be an age limit? If so, how would you enforce such a limit?

You must be able to argue for your point of view.

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Jolene Gutierrez Krueger: Video-game Maker Blamed in '04 Killing

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A wrongful death lawsuit was filed today against Cody Posey and the makers of “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,” alleging that the video game trained the southern New Mexico teen to gun down three members of his family.

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The lawsuit, filed this morning in state District Court in Al-
buquerque, argues that the video game made violence “pleasurable and attractive,” disconnected violence from consequences and caused Posey to “act out, copycat, replicate and emulate the violence” he wielded July 2004 when he shot and killed his father, stepmother and stepsister then buried them under a manure pile at the Hondo ranch owned by former ABC newsman Sam Donaldson.

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The word is out there – these games are leading to killings,” said Miami attorney and controversial anti-video-game-violence activist Jack Thompson in a news conference this morning on the steps of the state District Court.

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Thompson filed the lawsuit with Albuquerque attorney Steven Sanders on behalf of the surviving family members of Posey’s father, Delbert Paul Posey; stepmother, Tryone Posey; and 13-year-old stepsister Marilea Schmid.

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“If doing this can stop one person, one family from going through the hell we’ve been through, it will be worth it,” said an emotional Verlin Posey, brother of Delbert Paul Posey.

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Verlin Posey said he spoke with prosecutor Sandra Grisham on filing such a lawsuit. Grisham then contacted Thompson, he said.

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The 68-page lawsuit also alleges that the video game trained Posey how to fire a weapon and turned him into an “extraordinarily effective” killer.

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“Posey essentially practiced how to kill on this game,” Thompson said. “If it wasn’t for 'Grand Theft Auto,' three people might not now be dead.” Besides Posey, the defendants named in the lawsuit are Take-Two Interactive Software and its subsidiary Rockstar Games, which markets “Grand Theft Auto”; and Sony Corp., which produces Playstation 2, the platform on which Posey played the video game.

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“No question this is a landmark pioneering case in New Mexico,” Thompson said.

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Thompson has filed a similar lawsuit in Alabama on behalf of the families of two police officers and a dispatcher who were killed in 2003 by 16-year-old Devin Moore, who obsessively played “Grand Theft Auto” in the months before the shootings.

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Moore, said to have infamously told arresting officers that “Life is a video game. You have to die sometime,” was convicted of the murders and sentenced to death after a jury rejected his claims that he had been an abused child and was overly influenced by the “Grand Theft Auto” games.

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Take-Two representatives have called the link between “Grand Theft Auto” and the Alabama slayings “utter nonsense.”

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Other similar lawsuits, including one filed on behalf of several victims in the Columbine shootings, have been tossed out of court over issues of First Amendment rights and manufacturers’ inability to reasonably predict violent outcomes related to their products.

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But Thompson, whose high-profile crusades have made him an enemy of both video-game aficionados and judges, said a plethora of scientific evidence exists to link certain video games with violent, and often deadly, behaviors of their teenage fans.

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“The science is really the clincher here,” he said. “What they have found is that video games can train a young person to kill in a blink of an eye. Certainly that occurred in Alabama and may have occurred in New Mexico.”

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Thompson argues that the violent video games are “murder simulators” designed to be physiologically addictive to younger people whose brains are still developing.

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Such developing minds process the violence in video games differently than adult brains because the stimuli of the game affects the portion of the brain that deals with emotion more than the portion that deals with rational thought, he said.

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“The video-game industry can thus, through operant conditioning resulting from thousands of replications of the virtual act of killing, train minors to be more aggressive, sometimes to be more violent, and sometimes to kill,” the lawsuit states.

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Attacks at schools, including this month’s deadly spree at Dawson College in Montreal, Canada, in which one person was killed and 19 were injured, have often involved gunmen with a penchant for playing violent video games.

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“The practice, repetition and rewards for acts of violence (in video games) may be more conducive to increasing aggressive behavior among children and youth than passively watching violence on TV and in films,” the American Psychological Association concluded.

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Video-game experts say while there may be a correlation between violence in video games and violence in reality, it is a far cry from implicating video games as the cause of that violence.

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“This is a billion-dollar, mainstream industry just like the movies, just like music,” Jeff Gerstmann, senior editor of Gamespot.com told the Associated Press this month. “The vast majority of people aren’t out there doing horrible bad things and blaming it on video games.”

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After the Posey case made national headlines, Thompson said he suspected a video game was involved. He said he talked about the possibility with an unnamed Lincoln County sheriff’s deputy days after the shooting.

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“But he told me, no, Cody and his family lived on a working ranch. He wouldn’t have time to play video games,” Thompson said. “But I told him, `Trust me. These teenaged boys find the time.’ “

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Thompson said he suggested deputies search Posey’s possessions for a Playstation 2 game console and the “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” game, given the popularity of the game among Posey’s age group, the link between the game and other violent acts and the fact that Posey’s victims were each shot in the head, which he said is a somewhat unusual target given the smaller head mass.

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Thompson said he later learned that deputies found both the Playstation 2 and the “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” game. According to the lawsuit, Posey had “obsessively” played the video game.

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Posey, 16, was sentenced as a juvenile and will remain in state custody until he is 21, the maximum available for a juvenile. He was 14 at the time of the killing.

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Task 4.3.1

Study questions

  • What did Cody Posey do?
  • Why is a lawsuit filed against the makers of Grand Theft Auto?
  • Who is Jack Thompson? What does he think?
  • How does Jack Thompson argue for his case? Which scientific evidence does he give?
  • Explain what happened in the Devin Moore-case
  • What was Take Two’s response to the link between the killings and the game?
  • What does the American Psychological Association think?
  • What is the attitude of video-game experts such as Jeff Gertsman to the issue?
  • What did Jack Thompson tell the police after he learned about the Posey-case and why?
  • What happened to Cody Posey?
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Talk about it

In groups, discuss the questions below

  • Is there a difference between playing a computer game and watching a film in terms of the reality of the violence? Is there a difference in our response to it?
  • Discuss whether the article is biased. Find examples in the text that either prove its bias or its neutrality. See chapter 7 on how to analyse non-fiction texts.
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Write about it

Write a letter (150-200 words) to the editor of the Albuquerque Tribune in which you comment on Jack Thompson’s allegations.

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Talk about it

What is your first reaction to this picture? Does it show two brothers who are enjoying themselves, or does it show the negative effects of video games? Should their parents be worried, indifferent, or pleased?

© from Daily Online, 05 December 2007
© from Daily Online, 05 December 2007
Tú skalt rita inn fyri at skriva viðmerking

Glossary

alleging

[al’leging] s halda uppá

disconnect

[discon’nect] s skilja sundur

replicate

s endurtaka

emulate

eftirlíkna

manure pile

[ma’nure pile] n køstur

prosecutor

n ákæri

defendant

[de’fendant] n ákærdi

subsidiary

dótturfelag

landmark

n varði, vegamót

dispatcher

[di’spatcher] n avgreiðslumaður

infamously

h illa gitið, vanæruliga

overly

h alt ov

slaying

n morð

toss

s tveita

First Amendment rights

rættindi tryggjað í ískoyti í amerikansku stjórnarskipanini

outcome

n avleiðing

crusade

[cru’sade] n herferð

aficionado

[aficio’nado] n viðhaldsfólk

plethora

n yvirflóð

clincher

n avgerandi grundgeving

physiologically

[physio’logically] h fysiologiskt

process

s viðgera

operant conditioning

[operant con’ditioning] n tilvenjing

minor

n ómyndingi, ómyndigur

spree

n tá okkurt verður gjørt uttan tamarhald

penchant

n lyndi, hugur

conducive

[con’ducive] l stuðla upp undir

correlation

[corre’lation] n samband

a far cry from

ógvuliga langt frá

implicate

s daga inn

vast

l ovurstórur

juvenile

n unglingi

state custody

n varðhaldsfongsul

wrongful death lawsuit

rættarmál um endurgjaldskrav í samband við deyða

the word is out there

øll vita tað

attorney

n sakførari (us)

pioneering

l slóðbrótandi

virtual

l tykisligur

ISBN: 9788761657954. © Rithøvundarnir, Systime A/S og Nám 2011