Civil unrest? Political activism? Rage against the machine? According to the Evening Standard, the London riots can all be pinned on Grand Theft Auto.
In case you've entirely missed the news over the last few days, London is embroiled in a series of violent uprisings. According to Reuters, locals blame the riots on political unrest, while politicians and police pin the blame on "criminal thugs."
The latest dead tree edition of the Evening Standard is emblazoned with the headline "Lawless London" and an image of two burned out cars amidst rubble on a city street. Below that headline is a blurb that reads "children as young as ten, inspired by video game, among the looters."
Initially that seems hyperbolic, but the Standard's story quotes both an anonymous police officer and a local resident who place the blame squarely on Rockstar's magnum opus. Intriguingly, neither the officer, nor the resident are referenced anywhere in the story beyond the quotations.
It should be noted that, as CVG points out, "the Grand Theft Auto series has never featured any form of interactive looting or rioting." In 2002, Rockstar released State of Emergency, a game that focused entirely on causing riots, but that is neither mentioned, nor likely remembered by anyone in the UK.
In spite of whatever political or socially inflammatory motives one might read into this story, I'm most disappointed by the choice of media the Standard is referencing here. I realize that Grand Theft Auto is the rallying point du jour for the technological angst of a certain elder generation, but how can you write a story about riots in London and not make a single reference to The Clash?
What exactly do they imagine "London Calling" was about?