5 Times Video Games Led to Real Life Crime
Whether you’re playing as a hero or a villain, you’re almost certainly going to commit some crimes on screen while you’re gaming. After all, throwing red shells at cars to cause accidents, swiping sweet rolls, or stealing helicopters from military bases aren’t exactly acceptable in polite society. Even Mario eats mushrooms. But sometimes the crime gets a little too real, spilling out of the game and into real life.
One of the most annoying “pranks” people play on live streams is swatting. A viewer calls in a threat that causes a swat team to be deployed to the gamer’s house. Since the streamer is live on camera, the swat raid shows up on film too.
Even though the streamer has done nothing wrong, a crime is still being committed. Calling in a fake threat or crime is super illegal, because it wastes police resources that could be used combatting real crime. Plus, it puts the streamer at risk of bodily harm and can also risk the property of the person streaming.
Can you imagine seeing a man hold a gun to another’s head? For some people in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, it happened right on Main Street and was upsetting enough that someone called 911. When police questioned the men, they said that they were just making a video that was supposed to be like Grand Theft Auto.
Of course, that didn’t stop police from charging the pair with disorderly conduct. The gun wasn’t a proper handgun, but rather an airsoft pistol. Still, the police had to investigate to figure out who staged the incident and spent time and resources tracking them down. They were detained, questioned, and released – but still had to spend time and money to go to court and answer to the disorderly conduct charges.
When six teens got tired of committing crimes in Grand Theft Auto, they decided to create some real-life mayhem. They spent all night smashing vehicles and taking property that wasn’t their – until the sun rose and the crime wave ended. They were eventually caught by police. According to Detective Sergeant Anthony Repalone, “It was determined that they were emulating the character in that Grand Theft Auto game, going on a crime spree.”
Video games are fun, but real-life smash-and-grabs can have consequences. Aside from the legal charges, victims are likely to speak to a car accident lawyer and walk away with some serious damages. According to Citywide Law Group, “the costs associated with recovering from these injuries is increasing [. . .] faster than the rate of inflation”, which refer to car accidents.
Thinking of Massachusetts usually conjures images of peaceful coastal towns and gorgeous autumn colors. For residents of Raynham though, things got a lot more serious. After playing Grand Theft Auto, two teenage boys got the idea to make Molotov cocktails from drink bottles. They were using them to set fire to a garage and an apartment building. Luckily, no one was injured and police were called. The boys were brought in and admitted that they’d gotten the idea from a video game.
It’s always important to remember that real-life actions can hurt people. Pixels might burn in GTA when you throw a Molotov cocktail, but you wouldn’t draw a sword and chase after a snooty villager in real life – even though it’s fun to do in Skyrim when Nazeem sasses you.
When Zachary Burgess got bored stealing cars in his virtual life, he decided to try it in the real world. So the Auburn University lacrosse player jumped into a truck with an occupant still inside, tried to drive away, and was stopped by several parked cars. Instead of finding another way out of the lot, he slammed the truck into the parked cars, ramming them over and over. Deciding that his plan wasn’t working out, he left the car and was detained by nearby people until the police came.
It’s easy to get away from the police in video games and there’s almost always a way out. You’re the protagonist. But when you try to emulate those actions in real life, you’re more likely to find yourself on the wrong end of handcuffs. It’s better to invest in a new game to get some novelty instead of scaring the people around you and ending up in front of a judge.
Rampaging through towns and driving stolen cars is fun in virtual worlds, but the consequences aren’t much fun when you try it in real life. Video games are still being studied, as are their effect on the people who play them – there are no firm conclusions about whether they encourage violence. Nonetheless, it’s always important to moderate your behavior so you don’t try to kill a chicken and become enemy number one in the entire town.