Did 7-year-old Learn to Drive From Video Games?

Last Sunday morning, a Utah police officer chased a car that blew through stop signs and narrowly missed a pedestrian.  Imagine the pursuing cop’s surprise when the car came to a stop and out popped a 7-year-old boy.

On Thursday, Captain Klint Anderson of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office spoke of the incident to Fox News.  Young Preston Scarbrough told police he had taken the family car because he didn’t want to go to church that morning (he later told his mom he just wanted to give driving a go).

Fox News: “How did he even learn how to [drive]?”

Anderson: “Well, we’re not exactly sure except that his father has grounded him from one of his video games which involves operating vehicles so…”

Fox News: “Something like a Grand Theft Auto, something like that?”

Anderson: “I have no idea.  I didn’t ask the father what game it was but some of those video games are pretty realistic.”

The following day, the Scarbrough family appeared on NBC’s Today Show.  Preston’s father, who initially thought the police sirens outside were coming from one of his boy’s video games, confirmed that the little lawbreaker had been grounded for four days with no TV or games.

We’re going to throw away those driving video games for sure.

Preston, for his part, explained how he learned to drive.

Watched my mom. Watched my sister.

Video of the Today Show segment can be seen here and here.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen

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  1. Wormdundee says:

    Well obviously if they keep these games around he’ll slowly upgrade from just driving the car, to street racing, and then Formula 1. It’s common sense really.

  2. Wormdundee says:

    Except the huge majority of cars are automatic transmission. I doubt this kid would’ve gotten anywhere if it was a standard. It’s much more difficult to learn that from just watching.

  3. jedidethfreak says:

    Because liberals always harp on how religion poisons the mind, even though the only nation that guarantees their rights to say that was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and has a legal system based entirely on laws based on biblical lessons.

    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  4. Erik says:

    I am curious to how right wingers can harp on how they are for freedom on one hand and on the other scream that this is a Christian nation and that no one else matters?

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  5. GodBeastX says:



    My daughter players video games with driving and never thought it was a good idea to hop in a car and drive away. Didn’t anyone notice a 7 year old taking keys and leaving out the door? 

    And look how they punish his intelligence. The cop was surprised he was 7, obviously he must have been driving pretty well.

    "We’re throwing away every driving video game!"


    Even if he did learn to drive from a video game, he already knows how! Why throw them away now?

  6. 1AgainstTheWorld says:

    To be fair, the Faux News people probably haven’t even heard of Gran Turismo.  When they hear "video game" they immediately think of Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat, Doom, maybe RapeLay if they’ve picked up on the hand-wringing over that.  To them, there aren’t any other kinds of games besides violent ones.

    Ohyeah and Mass Effect, though I suspect they try their best not to think about that one anymore.

  7. questionmark1987 says:

    Wow dude? Seriously the whole "liberals started the civil war and want to remove freedom of (and from, it reads correctly both ways) religion" has nothing to do with anything in this story.

    I’m a liberal, I’m also spiritual (I don’t say religious because I reserve that term for people who subscribe to a standardized religion with specific rules, beliefs, etc.) I believe slavery was and always is wrong, I believe everyone has a right to practice their own religion without fear or persecution, and I believe everyone is free to live outside the constraints of other people’s religion.

    If as  child I had told my parents I didn’t want to attend church because I disagreed with the things being taught, they would have left me home and counted themselves lucky to have a child intelligent enough to voice that arguement. If I said I dont’ wanna go because I get bored or I want to play instead I would have been told to get in the car. Breaking my glasses… well no but that would be because that would have just cost them money.

    You and I don’t disagree on these points really, so it’s a bit silly to bring in the liberal V. conservative arguement and try to make it sound like one side is bad and one is good.

  8. Neo_DrKefka says:
    I am as right wing as it get’s and I’ll tell you. You shouldn’t force someone to conform to your beliefs. Yes as a parent you have a right and moral reasonability to raise your children and you also have Freedom of Religion something Liberals can only appeals if they decided to start another Civil War like the War they started to protect their right to enslave and because an evil vile Christian Republican was elected.

    But anyways, if a child objects to a religious ceremony he shouldn’t be forced to go but I can see myself as a child saying no to my father. There would be problems and my glasses would have been broke 

  9. questionmark1987 says:

    Breaking news: Government replaces driving test requirement for license with a standard 36 hours of play on any of the following games:

    Grand Theft Auto

    Need For Speed (1 or 2)

    Gran Turismo

    Seriously how friggin retarded are the police in our country?

  10. Chamale says:

    The problem is that they immediately name Grand Theft Auto, a game where driving isn’t the focus of the experience – it’s mostly a way from point A to point B. Compare to a game like Gran Turismo 3, which is more popular, features gearshifting, and is all about driving cars.


    This is a signature virus. Please copy and paste into your signature to help it propagate.

  11. PHOENIXZERO says:

    Driving a car (especially if it has an automatic transmission) is hard? I knew all the basics of driving when I was seven too from watching how it was done. It’s not at all complex. You have two pedals, one that makes the car accelerate and one that makes it stop, you have a steering wheel for turning which isn’t that far off of turning on a bicycle or a big wheel if you ever had one, then there’s shifting the car into the correct gear which is also extremely simplistic. I could “drive” before (with the assistance of sitting on my mother’s lap since I was too short to reach the pedals and see) I ever even had my own game console, in this case an NES.

    What I’d like to know is how he reached the pedals while still being able to see over the dash. How tall is the kid? I’m betting that’s where the problems came in.

  12. starsrift says:

    I’m more disturbed by the media’s attempt to link an M-rated game to a 7 year old, than anything else in this story.

    I’m not saying that no parents, anywhere, would let their 7 year old play GTA, but come on.

  13. Bloodharp says:

    Ok, not one to stand behind Fox News or anything, especially after the Mass Effect fiasco, but seriously, did any of you who are yelling about how they jumped on the "video games did this" actually watch the clip? All she asks is if GTA, a very commonly known game for non-gamers, was an example of a possible game where he could have learned. After that one mention, it doesnt come up again. Just relax people. Oh, and not all Churches harbor child molestors, so drop that now please.

    If there is irony for this story, though, its that Law and Order: SVU just showed an episode about a 7 year old who stole his foster-parents car and did basically the same thing. And no, he wasnt molested.

    In war, truth is the first casualty.


  14. JohnMidnight says:

    Sounds like he just didn’t want to go to church. Not everyone likes church.

    Me, church puts me to sleep, literally. I walk in, and I want to sleeeep. Others, hate it. Some feel tingles just walking in their. Church is NOT (in my opinion) for the sane.

  15. thefremen says:

    Just think, maybe if his parents weren’t so focused on teaching him to reject rational thought and accept dogma he would have come up with a better idea than doing something so dangerous and stupid. 

  16. DarkSaber says:

    Faux Noise = Fake Noise NOT Fake Lies.

    Meaning they make shit up just for the sake of making noise.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  17. MrKlorox says:

    Some have a manual gear shift box, clutch pedal, and force feedback wheel that reacts like actual wheels do.

    I’m sure this kid didn’t have that kind of setup, but saying one cannot learn to operate a motor vehicle from simulation software is just ridiculous.

    Or am I only supposed to count console gaming hardware?

  18. MrKlorox says:

    Isn’t Faux Noise a double-negative?

    Fox Noise makes sense as Fox Lies, Faux News makes sense as Fake News. But Faux Noise… that’s like saying Fake Lies. Which would equate to Real Truths, and Fox News is anything but that.

    Not trying to be a jerk… but it just always makes me itch me when I see that combination of words.

  19. MrKlorox says:

    Hey, don’t lump ME in with those assholes!


    (that’s me refusing to take responsibility for being a generally irresponsible American)

  20. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Mabye I should play more video games >>

    THen again I can’t drive anyway <<


    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..


  21. Kincyr says:

    and a kid that takes responsibility is rare in America nowadays

    岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

  22. Zero Beat says:

    No matter how good the racing wheel is, and some of them are awesome, they can only give you the basics – One pedal makes you go faster, one makes you go slower, turning the wheel turns the car.

    The only home video game that I can think of with an actual gearshift is Steel Battalion, and that’s not even a driving game.  It’s awesome, though.


    "That’s not ironic. That’s justice."

  23. Snipzor says:

     This child is a hero for escaping church, when I was his age I was stuck in these catholic bible classes in public school. If I had the opportunity to steal a car, I probably wouldn’t. But this kid did all that he could to escape, and he should feel proud, not bad.

    Sure he did something illegal, but remember, he escaped church. Do any of you understand how damn boring it is in a church, thoughts of suicide would have cropped up if it wasn’t a sin to think *punchline over*.

  24. Arcanagos says:

    Ugh, gotta love how fast their minds jumped to GTA, typical Faux Noise….

    "Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend. Do it in the name of Heaven, Jack Thompson’ll justify it in the end." – nightwng2000

  25. JB says:


    It wasn’t GTA. No, it was another game. A game that has plagued society since the dawn of time. A game that is so evil and seductive it has caused millions of children and adults become addicted to the point of exhaustion until death. Death is the only escape.
    There are a few, however, that can handle the intense obligations this game imposes. The intense hours of training that slip into days, then weeks which leads to the years needed to master this game. Preston Scarbrough has proven to be one of those people, perhaps the leader of an ancient society of children known to train exclusively on video games in an attempt to crush God fearing, decent people throughout the world. We’re through the looking glass people.
    No, Preston didn’t train on GTA. Preston trained on none other than Mario Kart Wii. The latest and most dangerous plague on civilization since the fall of Lucifer.
    What you’ve just read is a true story… a true story I have just made up myself. And now that story is on the internet making it undeniably true – like everything else on the internet.
    So it is written, so it shall be done.
  26. vellocet says:

     In my opinion, I think the focus is on the wrong thing here.  It doesn’t really matter how he learned to drive.  Whether from a video game or not.  It’s the appropriate application of that knowledge that the kid was obviously lacking.

    I’m not particularly fond of guns, but I’m okay with gun ownership provided the owner is responsible.  Now, I don’t doubt that playing a light gun game can help you (maybe not teach you) become a better shot.  But having the knowledge to shoot a gun is a far cry from using one to shoot innocent people.

    Just as knowing how to drive a car (even if you learned it from playing a game) is completely unrelated to stealing a car.

  27. TK n Happy Ness says:

    I doubt if this kid could even reach the pedals. Must be another slow news day for Fox.

    When Jack Thompson runs his mouth, does anyone really care what he has to say anymore?

  28. PHX Corp says:

    If I were the father of the child(I’m not) and I went to GP, I would say to the child Screw the 4-day grounding, your banned from tv, video games and the internet forever after a certain sites coverage of this embsaressment(my 2 cents)

    To add insult to injury Bill o’rilley called the parents pinheads for letting the kid drive

    Watching JT on GP is just like watching an episode of Jerry springer only as funny as the fights

  29. BearDogg-X says:

    The brain-dead idiot father and Fox News need to get their heads out of their asses. The kid already explained his actions and took responsibility.

    Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra.

    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  30. CyberSkull says:

    Yes. Operating thumbsticks really prepares you for a steering wheel.

    I love the part where Faux "News" tries to put the blame on GTA. Are they really that desperate for a scandal?

  31. sortableturnip says:

    I’m not saying he did, but it is possible he had a steering wheel/foot pedal controller. 

  32. gamegod25 says:

    well obviously, that’s why when you go to get a drivers license they just have a bunch of game kiosks with GTA 4 on them. XD

    but seriously how stupid would you have to be to believe that videogames can teach you how to drive? And not even a driving sim game with the fake steering wheel!

  33. nighstalker160 says:

    Riiiight because dual analog stick control is EXACTLY the same as a steering wheel and foot pedals.

  34. Stealthguy says:

    There must be an internet rule similar to rule 34 and 35 that handles that sort of situation?

  35. Alareth says:

    "but seriously how stupid would you have to be to believe that videogames can teach you how to drive? And not even a driving sim game with the fake steering wheel!"


    I learned to drive in an arcade, pumping quarters into Atari’s Hard Drivin’

  36. MrKlorox says:

    Both can give a good general idea if properly demonstrated onscreen and the observer is intelligent. But if all is just left to "pull trigger for desired response" then you’re correct.

    And of course watching it in real life would be more academic than watching it through a small 2D window, which he even admits is the source. Still, I haven’t played the game where you have to escape Sunday church.

  37. CMiner says:

    "but seriously how stupid would you have to be to believe that videogames can teach you how to drive?"


    Exactly as stupid as you have to be to believe that videogames can teach you how to operate a firearm.

  38. jedidethfreak says:

    Has anyone, anywhere suggested abuse?  Did the child say he didn’t want to go to church because somebody hurt him?  If either of these is the case, then it’s news to me, and it sure as fuck wasn’t mentioned above.  What was mentioned above was the kid didn’t want to go to church, so he took a car and instigated a low-speed police chase to get out of going to church.  It was suggested by either his father or Fox News that gaming was the culprit, even though the child himself said on national television that he learned to drive while watching his sister and mom (which, in my opinion, would have been the perfect opportunity to mention any abuse).  For his actions, his father punished him for taking his games away.  Considering stealing a car is a FELONY, I think taking his games away is a pretty tame punishment, much to the chagrin of just about everybody here, apparently, as you seem to think that no children deserved to be punished for doing anything wrong.

    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  39. hellfire7885 says:

    Sure, great idea, let’s not investigate why he didn’t want to go to church, i nfact, let’s ignore the chance he was being abused, since if he was getting abused they are people of god and therefore right ot do so.

  40. jedidethfreak says:

    Was it his car?  No.

    Did he have permission to take the car?  No.

    Therefore, he stole a car.  Regardless of the reason behind it.

    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  41. hellfire7885 says:

    Actually, it was stated that he took off in the car because he didn’t want to go to church.

  42. nightwng2000 says:

    You want bluntness?  Here’s bluntness:

    When it comes to the likes of people like Fred Phelps, Eric Rudolph, The Pope, or any other individual and/or organization who uses their religion to force their dictates (note once again the difference between having and sharing opinions and beliefs that may be willingly agreed to or ignored or whatever and demands that others MUST follow and accept those opinions and beliefs), their bigotries, their dishonor, their lack of ethics, their, in a certain individual’s words, "mental molestations", as well as justification for verbal, mental, physical, and/or sexual abuse upon others, adults OR children, make no mistake, I feel NO respect for them and desire NO respect from the likes of them.  And it doesn’t matter what religion it is.  Even the likes of Osama Bin Lauden fall into the same catagory as those just mentioned.


    NW2K Software


    Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  43. Biffbiffley says:

    My sarcasm detector isn’t broken and I still found that to be in very very poor taste.


    Come on, guys.  I fyou want people to respect you a little repsect back never hurts.

  44. Biffbiffley says:

    and I would like to point out that it’s faux news that’s blaming GTA in the store.


    We know how "fair and blaanced"  it is… you know with the leading quesitons and stuff…

  45. xMrAx says:

     You know that is really offensive. Going to church at such a young age can be scary simply because the parents will drop the kid off in a class meant for that age group. Sometimes kids still haven’t gotten over the fact their parents aren’t there with them. Anyway this is a secular society so nice try legislating anything. Please keep your comments to yourself if you have nothing intelligent to add.

  46. thefremen says:

    I know that was probably supposed to be satire, but who knows maybe he was being molested by a church employee.  

  47. nightwng2000 says:

    He didn’t want to go to chuch.  In fact, he tried to escape before being forced to go.

    Clearly a sign of being abused at church.  Abuse victims will do ANYTHING to get away from their abusers.

    There have been a great many new stories, even in recent times, of verbal, mental, physical, and/or sexual abuse by members, even leaders, of religious orders abusing young people.  And many stories of the highest levels, including the nation sized insane asylum known as the Vatican, covering up those abuses and even advocating and encouraging those abuses.

    The blame of video games was clearly to cover up yet another act of abuse going on in the sociopathic realm of religion.

    Protect the Children!  Legislate religion!

    This message brought to you by the "Religions As Scapegoats, Hooah!" organization.


    NW2K Software


    Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  48. DeusPayne says:

    Heh, reminds me of Men in Black 2, when Tommy Lee Jones couldn’t figure out how to use the dual analog to control the car.

  49. Erik says:

    You know my car is controlled by analog sticks.  And everyday on the way to work I launch my car into a 360 degree spiral, hit the ground, and keep on moving.  On the other hand if my bumper taps into any solid object seven or eight times my car will explode, true story.

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  50. jedidethfreak says:

    What’s up with the parents?  They take his game away because he STOLE A CAR and instigated a police chase?  Yeah, they TOTALLY overreacted.

    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  51. Pominator says:

    Gotta love FOX for their instant linking of the event to GTA, actually interrupting their interviewee to insert the controversy


    "well we don’t know what caused it could have been one of them driving videoga-"

    "GTA, it was GTA wasnt it! come on tell me it was GTA!"


    obviously not what they said, but thats how it looked to me when I was reading it, just moving in for the kill when he said games

    also whats up with the parents? more concerned with punishing him rather than finding the REASON that he wanted to leg it?

    Chick chick chick chick chickeeeeen lay a little egg for meeeeee!

  52. SeanB says:

    Isn’t it far more likely he learned to drive by WATCHING PEOPLE DRIVE! Oh wait, the kid already told us that.

    You dont learn to drive by pressing the X button. Pressing the X button does not teach you to open the car door, put keys in, start the ignition, put it in drive (which requires you to go through reverse), reach the pedals, KNOW WHICH PEDAL DOES WHAT, and use a wheel larger than your chest.

  53. nightwng2000 says:

    True.  And I’ve just popped back from the Google News search using the kid’s name.

    For the most part, the stories are rather tame in nature.  No real overreaction to video games.  All of them cover all the bases.  Didn’t want to go to church.  Wanted to find out what it was like to drive.  Learned watching mom and sis.  Grounded from watching TV and playing video games for 4 days (just one of any number of tools for punishment, so I don’t complain about that as I use it on my own son).  And, yeah, the implied condemnation of driving games by threatening to throw them away.  But, since the kid admitted that he learned to drive by watching mom and sis, I think THEY should be the ones to be worried.

    The articles that allow comments are pretty much equal to the articles.  A couple of ignorant boobs are blaming video games without thinking about what you just pointed out about the inability to actually LEARN the operation of a vehicle from a video game.  Most, however, are arguing that the Parents themselves should be punished severely.


    NW2K Software


    Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  54. State says:

    I’ve been waiting to see this story pop up here, when I first saw the footage I thought "I know what’s going to be blamed, GTA", and guess what? It has. I love the way when someone said about driving games they automatically assume GTA because of its controversy nature, the media are desperate to link anything to that game.

    The only games he could’ve learnt to drive from would be the racing games if he had the steering wheel and pedals to go with it, but he would still have to learn how to start the car and such which isn’t shown in computer games.

  55. Grifter_tm says:

    It’s really easy if you drive an automatic, just set it on drive and then go. If the family drove a stick, the kid wouldn’t be able to drive off as easily, or at all.

  56. DeusPayne says:

    Clearly he should divorce his wife and put his daughter up for adoption. We wouldn’t want anyone to influence him into driving again.

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