One of Thailand's top video games distributors is pulling Grand Theft Auto IV off the shelves after a teenager allegedly robbed and stabbed to death a Bangkok taxi driver in an apparent attempt to recreate a scene from the controversial video game.
Thai police said Polwat Chinno, 18, told them that he was angry his parents could not afford to buy him a copy of the game. "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," said a Bangkok police spokesman, Captain Veerarit Pipatanasak. Mr Polwat was arrested on Saturday night as he tried to steer the taxi backwards down a street with the fatally wounded driver in the back seat. The student allegedly told police he had not intended to kill the cabbie and only wanted to rob him but the driver had fought back with a metal bar. The student, described by his parents as polite and diligent, was said to have stabbed the driver 10 times.
Sakchai Chotikachinda, a spokesman for New Era Interactive Media, said the company was halting sales and recalling Grand Theft Auto IV from its outlets following the crime. The game allows the player to take the role of a criminal, tasked with various missions such as murder and robbery.
A senior official at the Thai Culture Ministry said the murder was a wake-up call for authorities to address the issues of violent video games. The ministry has been calling for tighter restrictions on the sale of the games and the establishment of a rating system. "This time-bomb has already exploded and the situation could get worse," Ladda Thangsupachai, director of the ministry's cultural surveillance centre, told Reuters.
The driver's son, Manon Pohkang, said his father was the family's bread-winner and that he was trying to repay several loans. He added: "He was a nice man, who harmed no one."
Mr Polwat faces the death penalty if convicted of the driver's murder.