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Jeffrey Toobin: It's hard to prove video game caused shootings

CNN legal analyst  Jeffrey Toobin
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin

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Jeffrey Toobin
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Video Games

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A $246 million lawsuit blames companies linked to the video game series "Grand Theft Auto" for the shootings of two people by teenagers who said they were inspired by the game. The suit, filed by families of the victims, names Sony, Take-Two Interactive Software, Rockstar Games and Wal-Mart.

Sony and Wal-Mart would not comment on pending litigation, but the Entertainment Software Association said there is no credible evidence that violent games lead to violent behavior. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin spoke Thursday with anchor Soledad O'Brien about the difficulty in proving the game's blame.

O'BRIEN: It's going to be a tough case.


O'BRIEN: Because historically, it hasn't worked.

TOOBIN: Right. We've talked about cases involving "The Matrix made me do it," the movie, [or involving singer] Marilyn Manson. The idea that popular culture causes some terrible act, it's very hard to prove the causation.

O'BRIEN: At the same time it's true that soldiers are trained on video games. You heard from Lee Boyd Malvo, in order to get to be a good shooter, he trained on a video game. I don't think that for most people, it is not a big stretch, if you want to learn to shoot, you practice a lot. Why is it so hard for the court to come to that when it seems pretty rational in people's minds?

TOOBIN: Thousands of people play these games and don't do anything wrong. The argument is that disturbed people fixate on whatever is in the popular culture at the moment, whether a video game, a movie, music, and then they do an irrational act.

But the causation is very tough to prove. [Victims' lawyer] Jack Thompson makes the argument, "I warned them." The issue isn't the warning. The issue is the causation. How do you prove the connection from the game to the violent act. Lawyers have tried [to prove the connection] but they haven't really succeeded yet.

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