In 2003, 18-year-old Devin Moore was arrested and brought to a police station under the suspicion of auto theft. While in custody, Moore acquired a police officer’s gun and killed that officer – shooting him several times – with a fatal shot to the head. Moore then shot and killed a second police officer with a similar fatal shot to the head. Finally, Moore walked down the hall and shot and killed an emergency dispatcher. After committing the three murders, Moore stole a police cruiser and drove off. In less than one minute, Moore murdered three people.
His lawyer’s defense: The video game Grand Theft Auto (GTA) made him do it. It turns out that Moore had been playing GTA nearly day and night for months and, his lawyers argued, he was not guilty by reason of mental defect arising, in part, from playing GTA for hours upon hours. According to Moore’s lawyer, Jack Thompson:
“What we’re saying is that Devin Moore was, in effect, trained to do what he did. He was given a murder simulator. He bought it as a minor. He played it hundreds of hours, which is primarily a cop killing game. It’s our theory, which we think we can prove to a jury in Alabama, that, but for the video-game training, he would not have done what he did.”
Upon Moore’s arrest, he stated, “life is a video game, everybody has to die sometime.”
An Alabama jury concluded that Moore was to blame for the murders, not creators of GTA.
Your discussion prompt: Neuroscience tells us that a person’s prefrontal cortex – the region of the brain responsible for important functions such as conscience, emotions, and reasoning to draw conclusions – is not completely developed until a person is in his/her early to mid-20’s. Moore was 18 when he committed these crimes.
Should Moore carry all of the responsibility for his actions or should the creators of GTA share some of the responsibility?
Should companies be allowed to produce and market such violent and realistic video games?
If stores refused to sell such products, then no one would have access to them. So should the Walmart where Moore purchased GTA also share some of the responsibility?
(USLOs 9.1, 9.2, 9.3)
Leung, R. (2005). Can a video game lead to murder? Did Grand Theft Auto cause a teenager to kill? 60 Minutes. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/can-a-video-game-lead-to-murder-04-03-2005/
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