A night spent playing the smash hit video game Grand Theft Auto ended in a police detainment for an Ontario 11-year-old. At 11 p.m. on Saturday, the Ontario Provincial Police began receiving reports of an unstable driver on a highway just north of Toronto, reported CTV News Canada.
It had been a fairly active night for the department, Sergeant Kerry Schmidt of the Highway Safety Division explained in a video published today on the department’s Twitter account. Amid the impaired driving arrests, rollovers, and even an incident in which a driver crashed into a police station, one report of a driver swerving across the highway stood out to the department.
The vehicle was initially operating at half the speed limit, according to Schmidt, when police first made contact in an effort to pull it over to determine the state of the driver. The vehicle did not stop immediately and the driver increased its speed to well over the speed limit at approximately 120 miles per hour. Schmidt added:
“The vehicle then stopped as the officer got out to try to talk to the driver to see what was going on. It looked like the driver was young, and the driver took off again.”
Additional police officers became involved in order to stop the vehicle. Once they were able to do so, they made the shocking discovery that the driver was only 11-years-old and armed with an excuse.
“He had just been finished playing Grand Theft Auto at home and wanted to see what it was like to drive a car,” Schmidt said, adding that it was “incredibly dangerous” that this was taking place on the roads, where the combination of a powerful vehicle and a child’s lack of comprehension that the impermanence of the video game world does not extend to the real one could easily have led to fatalities. He continued:
“Here we have an influence of a video game making kids try things without their parents’ knowledge or consent. It’s an absolute tragedy waiting to happen.”
This incident is not the first in which the onus of a child’s behavior has been shuffled between the child’s parents, the child’s video games, and the child himself. Violent video games came under intense scrutiny as school shootings became rampant, and numerous efforts were made to link the two. Grand Theft Auto features multiple storylines in which gratuitous violence and sex figure heavily, and the player is able to make liberal use of the reset button to offset any unwanted consequences.
The child’s parents did not issue a statement. Police elected to return the child to the parents and allow consequences to be meted out that way, but Schmidt affirmed that the incident was a “huge concern” for the department.
Rockstar Games, the creators of Grand Theft Auto, likewise remained silent on the matter. Schmidt’s statement referred to the “influence” of video games that “make” a child enter a dangerous situation, but it is arguable that a susceptible child could be steered away from a game that possesses content beyond his or her understanding. The game is rated M for Mature, which places the age restriction on those under 17; however, in the debate that has raged since the game’s inception, salespeople have provided statements of parents purchasing for young children and teachers have contemplated reporting parents of young students who divulge that they are allowed to play.
Rockstar Games is also responsible for the popular open-world game Red Dead Redemption, the second installation of which is slated for release in 2017. Red Dead Redemption depicts a wild west-era gameplay, which hopefully will not result in a child’s joyride on an illicitly obtained horse.
[Featured Image by Nick Ut/AP Images]