Thailand is a proud country with thousands of years of art and culture, and bears the distinction of being the only Southeast Asian nation to have never been colonized by the West. In recent decades, though, it has become famous around the world for being a popular tourist destination which combines stunning scenery and world-class cuisine with an anything-goes attitude.
Now, one thing that won't go on in Thailand is sales of Rockstar Games' blockbuster action game Grand Theft Auto IV. Reuters is reporting that the country's main game distributor has dropped the game faster than a Muay Thai knee strike following an apparent copycat murder. According to the news service, an 18-year-old student sought to imitate the game by robbing, stabbing, and killing a Bangkok taxi driver in an attempt to re-create the game's violent action.
"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," top police detective Veeravit Pipattanasak told Reuters.
Though there are no actual missions in GTAIV which require players to rob, stab, or kill a taxi driver, the teen's confession was enough to make Era Interactive Media cease selling the game. "We are sending out requests today to outlets and shops to pull the games off their shelves and we will replace them with other games," New Era sales and marketing director Sakchai Chotikachinda told the news service. "We are also urging video game arcades to pull the games from service."
Chotikachinda's comments were echoed by Ladda Thangsupachai, director of the Thai Ministry of Culture's Cultural Surveillance Centre. "This time-bomb has already exploded and the situation could get worse," he declared. "Today it is a cab driver, but tomorrow it could be a video game shop owner."
The removal of GTAIV from retail is likely to give ammunition to Thai advocates of game regulation. Currently, the country has no game-ratings system, although even the equivalent of an M-for-Mature rating would not have prevented an 18-year-old from purchasing the game.
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