A 13-year-old boy in France set some cars on fire and tried to blame the whole thing on Grand Theft Auto, but the Daily Mail’s report of the story makes the whole thing sound like a big fat stupid lie.
The boy used gasoline to set three cars on fire in Lyon, France, telling police after the fact that he wanted to imitate Grand Theft Auto. “He said he played the game for a few hours, then wanted to go out and [see] what it felt like to burn out some cars,” a Lyon police spokesman said. “This kind of entertainment is clearly having a negative effect on some young people.”
But the credibility of the boy, and of the story itself, is left open to doubt by the Daily Mail report, which says, “The 13-year-old schoolboy used petrol to set light to three vehicles after playing on the violent GTA 4: Liberty City game on his home PC. The game awards points creating as much as crime and destruction as possible in a city.” Ignoring for the moment the spotty grammar, there are more inaccuracies than actual sentences in the quote: Grand Theft Auto IV is not subtitled Liberty City, it has not yet been released on the PC and there are no points awarded in the game for causing “crime and destruction.”
Did the boy blame GTA for his arson spree? Probably. Is it convenient scapegoating rather than a legitimate explanation for anti-social behavior? Almost certainly. And more to the point: Does half-assed sensationalism sell papers? You betcha.