Monday, May 5, 2008

Pac-Man more to blame for auto theft than GTA.

Finally, my opinion has come back! to the Winnipeg Sun.

On May 2nd, Janice Martens published a rather ignorant letter, attempting to blame the GTA series for an increase of car theft in Canada.

Games make criminals

So we still really think that games like Grand Theft Auto have absolutely no impact? Hmmm, let's see ... the first game came about how long ago?

And the major problems with auto theft started when?

Give your head a shake people.

I know these 30-somethings will pout and say there is nothing wrong with them living out their bad-boy fantasies. They don't care if it's at the expense of impressionable eight to 10-year-olds who are playing this at their already dysfunctional homes, getting further lessons in desensitization. Go back to Pac-Man again if you've still got no life. What's next? Rape games for fun?

Janice Martens


As if the rambling conversational tone wasn't enough to convince you this person was conjuring statistics out of thin air, the rather unbridled assault on video gamers in general was too much to take. So, I had no choice -- NO choice, I say! -- but to do a little 'follow-up research' on her statistics.

The results found their niche in the Winnipeg Sun's letter column today, to wit:

Although Janice Martens wants desperately to blame real-life auto thefts on the Grand Theft Auto video game series, the very information she is citing tells a much, much different story. StatsCan reports that, in 1996, auto theft was occurring at a rate of 607 per 100,000 Canadians. The Grand Theft Auto series debuted in 1997, and auto theft dropped for four years straight to 521 per 100,000 in 2000, and was down to 487 per 100,000 by 2006; in other words, auto theft in Canada dropped 20 % in the first 10 years that "whiny 30-somethings with no life" have been playing the Grand Theft Auto games. Auto theft in Canada was at 383 per 100,000 when Pac-Man came out in 1980, and rose 58% over the next 17 years. Obviously, Pac-Man was leading kids to a life of crime until GTA came out and set us straight.

Charles Raymond Mousseau


Sadly, they did edit my piece a bit, cutting out some of the better rhetoric (citing Pac-Man and his ghost-eating homicidal spree and hedonistic dot-eating ways) and made it look like I was genuinely trying to blame Pac-Man. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with the result.

One nice thing about the information age is that it's so much easier to debunk nonsense claims. I am old enough to remember the "Super Bowl Myth" regarding an alleged spike in wife-battery that takes place on Super Bowl Sunday, and how it was completely unfounded in fact yet persisted for years and years.

Compare that to now, where WikiPedia, a StatsCan website and the local virtual soapbox can let the record be set straight in record time.