London Evening Standard: “GTA 4 to blame for London Riots”

While London burned for the fourth straight night, it is no doubt that a public already asking “how could this happen?” would still be looking to make sense of the destruction by its own citizenry. Great public unrest like that in London is a complex and murky subject to tackle; one that I definitely can’t contribute much to. At the heart of tragedy is a dead Afro-Caribbean man who was gunned down by London Police, a man who may or may not have been involved in a gunfight with officers; but even this fact is not so much a cause as it is a symptom of something deeper.

But this isn’t that kind of article. Nope, The London Evening Standard doesn’t think so, so why should the noisiest blog on the internet? According to the Evening Standard’s Oliver Poole, all these factors are irrelevant. The real cause of the mayhem that’s wrought London town? Grand Theft Auto 4. Honestly, I can’t even roll my eyes hard enough at this.

Mr. Poole and others who will inevitably make this same connection, gather round your computer’s monitor. Games no bad. Stupid people make stupid decision bad. Police brutality, economic disparity, poverty all bad. Games just make believe. And no, this is in no way taking the side of looters – y’all messed up and many of you will be caught, arrested, and tried because not only did you decide to go out making a mess, you decided it would also make a really great Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/Google Plus update.

From Poole’s article:

“These are bad people who did this. Kids out of control. When I was young it was all Pacman and board games. Now they’re playing Grand Theft Auto and want to live it for themselves.”

In all fairness to Mr. Poole, he was quoting a constable when making the connection, however, the Evening Standard decided to run the dubious stat that “children as young as ten were inspired by the video game were among looters” on the front page (pictured above). These kinds of editorial decisions are at best misinformed and at worse doing a disservice to their readers. Games don’t start riots, no matter how many times a reporter says they do.