Rockstar - Caught in Its Own Vice
In Oakland, California, police arrest a gang of teens who now face charges for five homicides, several carjackings, and a
slew of armed robberies. Roughly 2,000 miles away in Tennessee, stepbrothers Joshua and William Buckner, ages 14
and 16, are arrested and plead guilty to reckless homicide, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment for fatally
shooting one motorist and critically wounding a second.
The tie that binds these seemingly unrelated crimes is a video game—Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto: Vice
City. When questioned about their crimes, both sets of perpetrators cited boredom and a desire to emulate the action of
the main character in Vice City as the cause of their violent behavior. In Vice City, players assume the role of Tommy
Vercetti, an ex-con who loses cocaine and money in a botched drug deal. To recoup his losses, he must accomplish
various missions in an attempt to ascend the hierarchy of Vice City ’s underworld. The game awards points to players for
mass shootings, graphic rapes, liaisons with prostitutes, car thefts, and drug sales. The violence is extreme and often
grotesque. In one mission, players controlling Vercetti can earn points for raping a woman in the back of a stolen car and
them deciding whether to kick her to death, cut her t pieces with a machete, or fatally shoot her.
Its graphic violence and sexually explicit material have earned Vice City an M rating from the Entertainment
Software Rating Board, which indicates to consumers that the game is intended only for gamers aged 17 or older.
Younger gamers, however, are playing the game in large numbers, and critics, parents, and politicians are horrified to find