By Ciarán Mather
Various users on the internet have expressed their shock and disbelief over a US politician who said he will pursue legal action in order to get violent videogames banned in his state.
According to a recent report from The Chicago Sun Times, Illinois State representative Marcus C. Evans, Jr. (Democrat), has called for the violent videogames to be banned; with the biggest name on his list being the gangster videogame Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V).
Mr. Evans Jr. seeks to amend a 2012 law which will ban the sale of violent video games depicting 'psychological harm' and 'motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present.'
Evans, Jr. has since claimed that he wants to seek legal action to ban these types of video games in response to a recent spike in carjackings in the state.
Carjacking is a prominent feature in the GTA series, along with its heavy themes of drugs, sex, prostitution and gun-violence.
The proposed bill also hopes to change the definition of a 'violent video game' to one in which players 'control a character within the video games that is encouraged to perpetuate human-on-human violence, in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical or psychological harm to another human or an animal.'
Mr. Evans, Jr. added: 'Grand Theft Auto and other violent video games are getting in the minds of our young people and perpetuating the normalcy of carjacking.'
'Carjacking is not normal and carjacking must stop,' he added.
Many on Twitter had some scathing words for the seemingly drastic action proposed by Mr. Evans, Jr.:
Can’t believe Illinois is trying to ban GTA V LOOOL makes perfect sense they can’t find anything else so just blame it on a video game 🤣— AnthonyZ (@AnthonyZ1O) February 23, 2021
Crime solved in Illinois - GTA V banned... to tackle recent surge in car jackings....Gone in 60 seconds - totally fine pic.twitter.com/kZLfTgyPNz— Robert Harrison (@RobbieHarrison) February 24, 2021
LOL some politician wants to ban GTA V in the US state I live in which is Illinois because apparently it’s responsible for the rise in carjackings. We just LOVE our scapegoats here in America, don’t we. 😂 #gtav pic.twitter.com/DilDiI3TXq— 𝓓𝓪𝓷𝓲 (@DaniLove0000) February 26, 2021
An Illinois Dem State Rep wants to ban GTA V to "stop car-jackings" in his state. This proposed ban is nonsense. Economical crimes usually happen because of economical reasons, but it's of course more easy to blame all this on a computergame. So: Same old, same old.— Daniel Kurle (@DanielKurle) February 24, 2021
In GTA V, which was first released in late 2013, players take control of three uniquely-different gangsters who team up in order to conduct high-stakes heists (as well as experiencing various darkly comedic events) in the fictional city of Los Santos.
The game notably attracted controversy at the time for its inclusion of a graphic torture scene, but some defenders of the scene have claimed that it was purposely made this way in order to serve as political commentary on the use of torture by the United States government.
Both the GTA franchise and its developer, Rockstar Games, have had a long history of attracting controversy over the past two decades.
In 2003, the company came under intense media scrutiny for its graphic depiction of murder and torture in its videogame Manhunt, which follows a former prisoner who is made to run a maze across a city while trying to evade various sadistic murderers.
The game was also blamed for allegedly playing a part in the 2004 murder of an English teenager named Stefan Pakeerah.
However, it later emerged that 14-year-old Pakeerah was actually a fan of the game, and not his murderer, 17-year-old Warren Leblanc.
A similar incident occurred again in 2003 with Grand Theft Auto III, which was blamed as being the catalyst for a 16-year-old American teenage boy, Dustin Lynch, who murdered 17-year-old JoLynn Mishne.
Lynch's mother, initially pursued this defence but later changed her mind after speaking with her son, adding that the charge laid against her son had nothing to do with video games, a claim that Lynch also agreed with.
GTA III, which came out in 2001, was also blamed for allegedly playing a part in the murder of Aaron Hamel and Kimberly Bede, with the murderers, stepbrothers William and Josh Buckner's, claiming they were inspired by the game.
Rockstar was one of the organisations sued by the families of Hamel and Bede as part of a $246 million lawsuit, which prompted the developers to ask the Judge presiding over the case to dismiss the lawsuit.
Manhunt 2, the game's 2007 sequel, is notably the only videogame to ever be banned for sale in Ireland due to 'gross, unrelenting, and gratuitous violence.'
The ban has since been lifted and it can now be sold in Ireland with no legal repercussions.
Another game by the company, Bully (also known in various countries as Canis Canem Edit, or 'Dog Eat Dog' in Latin) faced outcry from concerned parents in 2006, who believed that the game promoted bullying.
However, in the game, the player takes control of a teenager at a boarding school named Bullworth Academy, and who often teams up with other students to fight bullies in a Robin Hood-style manner.
A US attorney named Jack Thompson, a noted anti-videogame and anti-rap music advocate, has repeatedly lambasted GTA and other violent videogames.
However, in 2008, he was permanently disbarred by the Supreme Court of Florida for inappropriate conduct, including making false statements to tribunals and for disparaging and humiliating litigants.
It should be noted that nearly all of Rockstar's games, with the exception of Bully and racing game Midnight Club, are rated 18+ and thus cannot be legally sold to minors.
GTA V is one of the most popular videogames of all time, and has grossed more than any Hollywood film ever made, making $6 billion off a $265 million budget.
Other popular franchises from Rockstar Games include Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne and L.A. Noire.