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America's Debate > Archive > Assorted Issues Archive > [A] Big Trials and Legal Cases
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GoAmerica
Grand Theft Auto suit

QUOTE
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A fatal sniping spree by two teen-age Tennessee boys who said they were mimicking the video game "Grand Theft Auto III" has triggered a $246 million damage lawsuit against the game's creator and others.


I think this insane. Just because 2 kids say that they were "inspired" by this game to commit the crime, does not mean that the game was truly at fault. There are thousands of kids who play this game and don't do this sort of thing. So there is obviously some sort of other reason.

Now, here are the questions to kick around:

Should video game makers compensate victims of crimes that people say were inspired by their products?

Are video games what really causes the crimes? (in other words, isit something else like mental imbalances?)
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Mrs. Pigpen
QUOTE(goamerica @ Oct 23 2003, 06:26 AM)
1. Should video game makers compensate victims of crimes that people say were inspired by their products?

2.Are video games what really causes the crimes? (in other words, isit something else like mental imbalances?)

1. No, but it was really just a matter of time with all of the legally enforced and court-endorsed diffusion of self-responsibility. Today psychobabble has replaced the medieval 'devil made me do it'.

2. No. I don't believe this will win in court, but if it does...beware mass media, they're next! I seem to remember court cases in the eighties when satanic rock music was purported to influence behavior. I don't believe anyone was awarded damages back then. I couldn't find anything online about that, though. hmmm.gif
Looms
Hi, everyone, this is my first post on AD (though i have been reading posts on here for about a month).

IMO, this is the epitome of shifting blame and just general stupidity. Anyone can blame anything for their actions, but that doesn't necessarily make it so. In fact, there is yet to be a proven link between violent media and actual violence. Anyone that looks at a game and gets "inspired" to kill, has serious problems that have nothing to do with the actual game. I have taken many criminal psych classes, and from what I understand, all studies pointed to the same result: if somebody has psychological issues that would make them 99% likely to kill someone, the game MIGHT (not will) make them 99.5% likely to kill (these numbers aren't factual, just an example). There is no way that a person just looks at a game and says "Wow, shooting people would be a good time, I think I'll go do that." I have been exposed to violent media since I can remember, my parents did not believe in keeping me sheltered from violent movies. But I actually had PARENTS, that sat and explained to me what I was seeing. And never answered "Why?" with "Because I said so." Am I really a unique exception? I highly doubt that.

From a legal point of view , were this case to win, the precedent would be catastrophic. Nothing would ever be anyone's fault. It would almost be a business, kill someone, blame a video game, get millions, and the best part is, it wasn't your fault. You were corrupted, brainwashed, and turned into a killer by a work of fiction. Blame games for murders. Blame porn for rape. And how many things can various religious scriptures be blamed for? An idiot proof society would be a society for idiots.

This is the McDonald's coffee lady all over again
NiteGuy
QUOTE(Looms @ Oct 23 2003, 09:01 AM)
Hi, everyone, this is my first post on AD (though i have been reading posts on here for about a month).

Welcome to AD, Looms. Hope you enjoy it here.

QUOTE
IMO, this is the epitome of shifting blame and just general stupidity. Anyone can blame anything for their actions, but that doesn't necessarily make it so. In fact, there is yet to be a proven link between violent media and actual violence. Anyone that looks at a game and gets "inspired" to kill, has serious problems that have nothing to do with the actual game.

I would tend to agree with you if it were someone outside saying this about the kids. But they said it themselves. Even so, say the game did give them the idea for shooting cars and trucks on the roadway. As you say, they were probably more or less inclined to this kind of action to begin with, and they are ultimately resposible for their actions. Putting it off on a video game or TV show, is to deny free will.

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This is the McDonald's coffee lady all over again

This is the only problem I have with your argument. Because the McDonald's coffee lady story probably isn't what you think it is. A few facts:

McDonald's knew it was selling coffee anywhere from 20 to 30 degrees hotter than anyone else. A temperature (180-185 degrees) which could cause 3rd degree burns 5 times faster than at at 160 degrees. In fact they had settled about 700 incidents over the same thing in the decade prior to this incident. The average settlement in each case was about $100,000.

The lady had never sued anyone before. She only did, this time, because after suffering 3rd degree burns that required skin grafts, and months of medical treatment, asked McDonald's to cover her medical expenses, in the tens of thousands of dollars. McDonald's offered her $800.

Yes, the jury awarded her almost 3 million dollars. What isn't widely known, is that a judge decreased tha amount of the award to $480,000. This was not a case of the judicial system gone mad, it actually worked pretty well.

Links to stories about this can be found here, and here.
PrismPaul
Good post about the McDonald's incident, NiteGuy.

This is obviously an apples to oranges comparison. The video game cases seek to make someone else responsible for the damaging actions taken by an individual. In the McD case, the harm was caused by direct negligence on the part of the chain (or at least that was the finding).

As a libertarian, I think that product liability lawsuits are an important check on companies that might otherwise be reckless with their products. The threat of such suits is an important incentive to follow industry standards for safety and to not market unsafe products. It is far more effecient, and less crippling to innovation, than trying to "proactively" regulate every last detail about what companies can or cannot do.

Not all such suits are valid, and often the awards are out of bounds, so there are reasonable calls for reform. The whole thing is a gray area. What might be considered a "safe product" by today's standards may be considered "hazardous" in a few years. But this is a valid place for law to operate.

The video game suit, by contrast, is a joke, for reasons Mrs. Pigpen, goamerica, and Looms (welcome!) have already stated well.

I doubt if there are many here that will argue it has any validity, but I've been surprised before. smile.gif
GoAmerica
QUOTE(PrismPaul @ Oct 23 2003, 12:21 PM)
The threat of such suits is an important incentive to follow industry standards for safety and to not market unsafe products.  It is far more effecient, and less crippling to innovation, than trying to "proactively" regulate every last detail about what companies can or cannot do.

Not all such suits are valid, and often the awards are out of bounds, so there are reasonable calls for reform.  The whole thing is a gray area.  What might be considered a "safe product" by today's standards may be considered "hazardous" in a few years.  But this is a valid place for law to operate.

We are talking about a game that has a rating, that says this is not appropriate for this age group. The parents should be at fault for letting the kids have the game. This game was labeled "unsafe" for a certain age group because of the violence.
PrismPaul
QUOTE(goamerica @ Oct 23 2003, 01:34 PM)
QUOTE(PrismPaul @ Oct 23 2003, 12:21 PM)
The threat of such suits is an important incentive to follow industry standards for safety and to not market unsafe products.  It is far more effecient, and less crippling to innovation, than trying to "proactively" regulate every last detail about what companies can or cannot do.

Not all such suits are valid, and often the awards are out of bounds, so there are reasonable calls for reform.  The whole thing is a gray area.  What might be considered a "safe product" by today's standards may be considered "hazardous" in a few years.  But this is a valid place for law to operate.

We are talking about a game that has a rating, that says this is not appropriate for this age group. The parents should be at fault for letting the kids have the game. This game was labeled "unsafe" for a certain age group because of the violence.

My words that you were quoting were in reference to the validity of product-liability lawsuits, such as the McDonalds example.

I see no merit whatsoever in the Grand Theft suit. I think we agree completely on that. thumbsup.gif
Robin_Scotland
Games do not cause crimes, no more than films, books, music or any other medium that people claim 'make' people do things. People who try to point the finger at games makers for being the reason their kids are deranged are sidestepping the real issue. There are too many factors that can account for someone taking a gun and killing lots of people, most of them in my opinion are either mental reasons or are a result of their upbringing and social interaction with other human beings.

It reminds me all too much of the 'Blame Canada' song from the South Park movie. Accusations as bizarre as saying a game that lets you kill virtual people tells children to kill real people, particularly when the game does have an 18 rating, seem to always come from those parents who want to blame anyone but themselves (in my opinion and from personal experience of course)
CommonSense
There are many genres of video games First person 3d shooters, role playing games, strategy e.t.c.

Well, I have played many violent video games.

Very few generes actually obstain from any kind of violence.

And to be completely honest I think 3d shooters(games where one looks at the virtual world through the eyes of a character),and 3d action games are simply the worst.

I don't know if any of you have played GTA(grand theft auto)

For those who didn't I'll go over what it is in general.

You are set in a virtual city (has a resemblance to New York) and you work as some sort of hitman for the mob(well you start small with easy assignments and go up in "rank" by doing progressively more difficult "jobs")

Your character is allowed complete freedom. You can beat an old lady to death with a baseball bat right in the middle of a busy street, kill a police officer in broad daylight and then hijack someones car and get away from the pursuing police.
Have you ever played postal 1 or 2?
All of this is accompanied by "nice" blood puddles, explosions e.t.c.
I don't know what effect they have on human brain but playing these kind of games even for a grown adult can not be healthy.

I think this has to stop. There must be some sort of censorship. If movies were to make something like this everyone would protest ,but video games for some reason get special treatment.

Many of you would say "I simply look at the rating, and if it is not appropriate for my child I don't buy it"

Well these ratings most of the time mean very little. You dont realize that if in some part of dialouge somwhere in the middle of the game a character uses inappropriate words the game can be rated "M" but if there is some sort of constant unearthly screaming (like soldiers dying or getting killed, I'm reffering to a strategy game) the game could be rate "E"! Believe me I can bring many examples.

I don't want to use the good old "plea of insanity" and say they are not guilty.
Those boys should be held responsible for what they did. And yes they should get a moderate(not mild)punishment. But there should be some form of censorship on this kind of video games.

Because if media reflects who we are morally(after all they show what people want to see , right?) I notice that our reflection gets worse and worse.
Ultimatejoe
Hey I've played the same games for years and the only time I've ever hurt ANYONE is when I punched someone in the arm on their birthday. There have been studies done implicating violent behaviour with violent television but I've never seen any work done suggesting that mimicry is an eventual outcome.

Look at it this way. The only person that someone could mimic a video game in their plans to murder someone was if they were either already capable of murder, or if they lost touch with reality. Can we agree there? Well lets look at those two situations. If someone is already capable of murder, blaming a video game is a moot point because they very likely would have killed in another fashion at some point, and the root cause lies elsewhere. If they did lose touch with reality then they are obviously mentally deficient; ill equipped to define real from unreal and right from wrong and again the the video game makers are not liable.

It's like suing a car-maker over a drunk driving fatality. If a product was used by someone inappropriately and in a way that is not forseeable by the manufacturers then they have no liability.
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CommonSense
First. It is not clear, that violent imagery does not have a negative impact on the brain(in fact it may have an affect but you simply donít notice it).


Second. It is no secret that often people play out their fantasies by playing video games.

If someone wishes to drive a racecar they could do so by playing a racing game.e.t.c.

And it seems that if someoneís fantasies include hurting, murdering or going on a rampage they can play games like Grand Theft Auto e.t.c to play out their fantasies in the virtual world.

So on one hand, hypothetically it is possible that by satisfying their fantasies in virtual world those people will not come to fulfilling their horrible fantasies in real world.

On the other hand, it is also possible that these games will only encourage more and more Negative thoughts. And this person will either
1) become dependent and keep on playing progressively more and more just to curb their increasing subconscious desire to hurt someone(and keep everything in virtual world).
2) Or that person may actually become overwhelmed by the stimuli and come to fulfill his desire in the real world.

So all of this (in my opinion) should apply to games that try to resemble reality(like Grand Theft Auto).

However Iím not sure if any of the above apply to games where reality is distorted.
Corvus
I really doubt whether video games can inspire violence. The allure of video games themselves is the freedom that they bring from the banality and rules of the real world. It's a form of escapism. But what I would argue is that games might desensitise (that's desensitize to you Americans) a person to violence or suffering.
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