Creators of violent video games should be prosecuted if copycats take their content into real life.
It's high time game makers face the legal consequences of their creations, a top government official says.
This reaction comes in the wake of a brutal slaying of a city taxi driver by a teenager obsessed with blood-and-guts shoot-'em-up game Grand Theft Auto. He wanted to see if robbing and killing a cabbie was as easy in real life as on screen.
The 19-year-old stabbed the driver repeatedly when he resisted being robbed.
Grand Theft Auto has been criticised for depicting violence including beatings, car-jackings, drive-by shootings, drunk driving and prostitution.
"When a player copycats a crime he or she sees in the game, the game maker should be prosecuted," says Somchai Jaroen-amnuaysuk, the deputy director of the Welfare Promotion, Protection and Empowerment of Vulnerable Groups Office.
"Prosecutions will automatically force game makers to act more responsibly," Somchai says.
Dr Somprot Sarakosas, a former spokesman of the Human Security and Social Development Ministry, agrees the government should explore legal avenues against all parties responsible for such violence.
"At the same time, everyone, especially the Education Ministry, should make children aware that games and real life are two different things."
National Culture Commission chief Preecha Gunteeya says the government has to do something to control violence-packed games, including imposing a rating system. "We must regulate gaming cafes, too" he says.
Meanwhile the killer's mother says she's sorry for her son's actions.
"From now on I will take better care of him. I want to encourage other parents to do likewise," she says. However, her son faces death by lethal injection if convicted.
In the United States, an 18-year-old Alabama Grand Theft Auto addict shot dead two police officers and a civilian in 2005.
Game maker Take Two Interactive faces multi-million-dollar liability lawsuits from the victims' families. They say it should be held responsible for the killer's actions. The murderous gamer was handed a death sentence.
Here in Thailand the game's distributor has stopped selling the title and is asking retailers to take it off shelves and arcades to pull the game.