Law enforcement weighs in on violent video game - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Law enforcement weighs in on violent video game

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Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian discusses the game "Grand Theft Auto." (abc3340.com) Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian discusses the game "Grand Theft Auto." (abc3340.com)

A 20-year-old Hoover man faces charges for trying to live out the game Grand Theft Auto. Zachary Burgess is a student at Auburn University. He was in Baton Rouge Saturday night for the football game.

A police report says Burgess stole a truck with a woman inside it, started driving erratically and crashed into nine vehicles. Burgess told police he wanted to experience Grand Theft Auto in real life.

Local psychologist, Kristen Berthiaume, says the link between violent games and violent behavior can be difficult to define. However, she says people who are generally more impressionable could be more at risk. One theory is the more often you play a game such as Grand Theft Auto, the more likely the lines of reality become blurred.

"'I've played a couple of the earlier versions. They're pretty fun. I enjoy them,: said 29-year-old Colin Reily.

He is familiar with the game. He's also aware of the controversy surrounding the violent nature of the game, which centers on organized crime. But he doesn't see a problem with it.

"It lets you do things that you're not going to do in normal life," he said.

However, he does believe people playing the game have a natural desire to  engage in criminal activity. His theory is that the game is a harmless outlet.

"My thoughts on this is you already have the urge right? so you might as well take the video game approach as to a different approach," said Reily.

Chief Deputy Randy Christian with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has a real concern about the games. He worries about those who have a difficult time differentiating fiction and realty.

"We've had cases where they've alluded to some kind of game they were playing online and it's a real eye opener," said Christian.

Christian realizes what he's up against , and says it's frustrating. Grand Theft Auto is a billion-dollar business, and its creators are operating within their legal rights. Christian says it's going to take the community helping law enforcement to make sure the influence of video games does not get out of hand.

Ed Ramsey, has a 19-year-old son who he says is not allowed to play the game under his roof.   
"I think it promotes them going against the police, and just negative overall to be a thug. And I don't want my kids to think glorifying criminal activity is a good idea," said Ramsey.

Doctor Kristen Berthiaume says another theory is some people who play these games could be more prone to violent activity because of it genetics or a family history of violence.

She says violence, as it relates to video games, should generally be looked at on a case by case basis.

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