Evidence Not Necessary: Detroit Prosecutor Positive That Violent Video Games Cause Crime

from the please-don't-provide-any-evidence dept

There are plenty of folks who like to blame violent video games for crime despite a lack of any real proof. As has been pointed out time and time again, just as violent video games have become more popular, incidents of violent crime keep dropping. Obviously, there may be other factors involved, but if it were true that violent video games resulted in more violent crimes, then it at least suggests there’s one heck of an additional variable that not only compensates for this increased desire for violence, but pushes the stats even further in the other direction. And, certainly, while there are some researchers who insist that studies have shown that violent video games lead to violence, every time you look at the details of those studies, you realize that the data doesn’t support the claims.

Still, some people react to the issue from an emotional, rather than logical, point of view. This is human nature, so it’s not that surprising. However, when someone’s job is a gov’t prosecutor, you might think she would recognize the importance of real evidence before making statements. Not so for Wayne County, Michigan (which covers Detroit) prosecutor, Kym Worthy. In an interview with Wired, Worthy notes that evidence is meaningless to her on this issue: “No one can convince me that there isn’t a link between some of the gory, gritty, horrendous crime that we’ve been seeing in the past few years, particularly in the 18-25 year old group, [and] these games.” Apparently any evidence to the contrary are just “‘silly’ arguments made to justify a ‘billion-dollar industry based on the most violent of scenarios.'” Even better, Worthy wonders why kids can’t just go play football instead of playing video games. So why is it that virtual violence encourages more violence, but actual violence in the form of football doesn’t?

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Comments on “Evidence Not Necessary: Detroit Prosecutor Positive That Violent Video Games Cause Crime”

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Ajax 4Hire (profile) says:

Re: Re: I still say, be careful!

I don’t think so.
The United States Constitution specifically forbids violent overthrow. To accommodate a change of regime, there is a specific method detailed in the Constitution (elect representatives that share your view).

If you cannot get a large enough group (not necessarily a majority), to agree then you are simply suggesting replacing current system with your own dictatorship.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I still say, be careful!

but what happens when that system is broken?
special interest groups buying up politicians,
gerrymandering, political parties forcing you to chose between two lousy candidates, e-voting, etc…
your vote counts less and less every year.
democracy does not scale up to the levels of population in the US today.
if the US were split into smaller countries, the finer resolution would leave many more people happy (imagine, the west coast could get a different president than the bible belt).

luckily, there is a provision in the constitution for this eventuality as well. its called the second amendment.

Violin Teacher (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I still say, be careful!

“luckily, there is a provision in the constitution for this eventuality as well. its called the second amendment.”

The 2nd Amendment has been effectively repealed by fiat of all but two of the states in the US. As has Article 4 of the Constitution.

The US Constitution is not a perfect document, but it sure beats what we are living under now.

buckykat says:

Re: Re: Re: I still say, be careful!

on the other hand, “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” the current occupant & friends (the rest of those fuckers) are destructive of the ends of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. however, in response to anon, violent revolutions almost always fuck it up.

TheDock22 says:

Love this lady

No one can convince me that there isn’t a link between some of the gory, gritty, horrendous crime that we’ve been seeing in the past few years, particularly in the 18-25 year old group, [and] these games.

I bet she also believes that the Earth is the center of the universe and Santa brings her present on Christmas Eve.

Silly rabbit, facts are for truth!

Kind of off topic, but this whole argument reminds me of the debate that television makes you stupid. I’m not sure either side will win.

Anonymous Coward says:

Most people are bolder online than they are in real life. Just read some of the entries on this forum.

Personally, I believe violence in a virtual world allows people to vent openly. You don’t want that happening in the real world.

Unfortunately, sometimes for some people it’s just not enough. Those people will become axe murderers anyway and video games help them to figure out how they’d do it. To assume we are all ‘impressionable’ kids is a weak argument. Ask someone who’s seen war violence if playing video games as a kid made it easy to be there. The ones that said yes are the people to watch closely.

John says:

Violence in video games

My theory – again this is a theory – is that it is not so much that violent video games are going to be more influencial when younger kids are playing the games. This would be a very difficult study to conduct because often parents who allow their kids to play Manhunt when they are 7 generally don’t have much guidance over their kids anyway.

Spider Rico says:


I’m 52 years old and love video games. when I was a kid not only did I play football but we played war games with toy machine guns, toy hand grenades, etc…played combat with my friemds all day long.

I have never owned a gun and fired a handgun once in my life.

This lady is nuts, but it speaks to the “chickefaction” of America.

Let the Games Begin says:

Hey Ajax for Hire

The Declaration of Independance states:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

I think it’s high time we get to abolishing…

Arrgster says:

Does anyone remember being a kid?1?

I’m almost 40 but I remember being a kid and playing war games or cowboys and Indians. Running around pretending to shoot your friend in the yard. Let me tell you, running around with sticks and rocks is a lot more immersive than any computer game, so I think this BS is a lot of BS! If playing a game was all it took then we’d all be criminals…

Jeff says:

Re: Does anyone remember being a kid?1?

I hear ya, you only got me by a few years but I remember using bb guns on my friends. Talk about escalation of aggression. Anything and everything from a broomstick to a cardboard tube turned into a sword or gun. I don’t think they’ll be happy until everyone is encased in bubblewrap and lowjacked for your own safety. Because they know what’s best for you.

vin says:

re: capital punishment figures

I second Stute.

Techdirt, increasingly, is showing why we need a republic rather than a democracy, because people (that means most of you) are just too stupid to realize when they don’t know anything about a topic. Clearly anyone arguing that “there is no evidence that x leads to y” has never taken a social science class. on a typical 95% confidence interval, A STRONGLY associated variable has TYPICAL p-VALUES like .4 and R-SQUARED values like one QUARTER what is deemed even loosely associated in the physical or medical sciences. What this means is that it is very difficult to demonstrate any type of behavior is associated with any other type of behavior. PHYSICAL effects are of course easier to measure, but on another note I don’t think most people say that playing violent games MAKES you violent, I think they say that it conditions your subconscious to automatically react more violently.

So, in other words, playing violent video games is more symptomatic that something else is wrong in the persons life. Anyway, what kind of adult is such a fuckup they play video games anymore anyway? For all you “gamers” out there, it is time for you to seriously re-evaluate what happened along the way that brought you to this sad place.

Xiera says:

I found the article particularly amusing.

Detroit’s plan to cut crime? Crack down on violent videogames.

Games are a “big indicator of crime,” says Kym Worthy, prosecuting attorney for Wayne County, which encompasses Detroit — which a recent Congressional Quarterly study called America’s “most dangerous city.”

Games are a “big indicator of crime”. I couldn’t agree more. Crime exists. The news media latches onto crime because they are convinced (whether right or wrong) that the American public finds crime interesting. So, yes, games are an indication that crime exists and that people are interested in crime. I fail to see the link to games being the -cause- of crime, however.

“No one can convince me that there isn’t a link between some of the gory, gritty, horrendous crime that we’ve been seeing in the past few years, particularly in the 18-25 year old group, [and] these games,” she told Wired News.

It has nothing to do with the fact that most of the perpetrators of violent crimes were violent in their teens, and either dropped out of or expelled from high school. They are young, without direction, and without an established life beyond their friends, who are in similar situations.

Furthermore, this is universal. It’s noticeable in cities, and also relatively rural/suburban towns like the one I grew up in.

Do kids play these games? Sure. But one must examine where the true correlation lies. I believe that the kids buy the games because they’re already violent, not that the games are making the kids violent.

This week, Worthy released a list of ten games she thinks parents should avoid buying for their children this holiday season. It includes games such as Grand Theft Auto and Scarface.

YES! There it is! Parents, do your jobs! Monitor your kids and raise them well so they don’t become violent when they’re out on their own. If you know your child is easily influenced, don’t allow him to play violent games. Shocking philosophy, I know, but perhaps one that people need to hear…

Worthy says that she has seen “copycat crimes” in Detroit that “mimic” videogames.

“I’m telling you, things are getting much more gory, much more horrific…I’m not saying it’s the only link, I’m not saying that it’s a direct link, but it’s there,” she says.

Indeed it’s not a direct link. See my explanation above for the correct link.

Worthy puts out her list every year to help warn parents about the type of games their children might be playing. All of the games on the list are M-rated, and therefore not actually intended for children, but Worthy brushes such arguments aside.

“That means nothing to me really, because we have kids playing these games who are under the age of being mature,” she says.

See above comments about parenting.

Worthy writes off any arguments that violent games are a way to act out aggression in a safe environment. These, she says, are “silly” arguments made to justify a “billion-dollar industry based on the most violent of scenarios.”

She’s right, and it is silly for people to suggest that taking anger out on a pillow/punching bag is better than taking one’s anger out on the actual cause. Silly psychologists and their silly defense mechanism “sublimation”. Pff. [/sarcasm]

“Why can’t they just go play football?” she asks. “I dont understand why anyone would want to be a part of glorifying violence.”

The use of the word “game” to describe something like Manhunt, she says, is “very disturbing.”

“A game to me is Candyland, Monopoly, the games we used to play as a child. Scrabble. These are games.”

And because you don’t understand it, it must be wrong. Because everything is rainbows and unicorns in your mind, people who think differently are “disturbing”. Continue…

To compile the list, Worthy had Detroit-based “community research group” Hood Research poll members of the Detroit community about the violent games they played and wanted.

Other games on Worthy’s list include 50 Cent Bulletproof, God of War, and 300.

God of War because everyone runs around with huge ancient and medieval weapons these days, right?

It also, amusingly, features long-forgotten titles like Killer 7, which no parent was ever in danger of buying their child this holiday.

While Worthy says that she is aware that there are many newer, more popular titles that are not on the list, a gag order on a case with which she is currently involved prevents her from mentioning those games, she says.

Although her list is numbered, it is not meant to be perceived as a ranking of any kind. But Worthy did say that Grand Theft Auto belongs at the top of the list because of its glorification of “carjacking” and other violent crimes.

Worthy says she finds the ability to kill a prostitute after engaging her services in GTA particularly abhorrent. “It rewards you, give you points for mistreating the woman after you’ve had your way with her,” she says.

Have your way with her, just don’t kill her.

As passionate about she is about the link she is certain exists between violent games and real-world crime, Worthy says she limits her efforts to underage players.

“I can’t monitor, nor would I want to, what adults are doing,” she says.

Summary: Society introduces kids to violence at a young age (because parents aren’t doing their jobs) and gets mad at violent video games for providing violent people with a way of simulating their aggression.

Solution: Start introducing kids to violence as soon as possible, and teach them how to use violence responsibly and in a socially acceptable manner. Err, wait, that’s alcohol.

Perhaps if the news media portrayed less violence (none), kids would have more of a chance to avoid violent video games on their own.

Sorry about the length of the post. 😛

Steve says:

I'm a supercrininal

I have played Grand Theft Auto, and now I’m a supercriminal with six stars above my head.

I leave my house and hijack the first car i see. I slam on the gas pedal and I then drive around aimlessly until I see a better car. I ditch my car and get the better one. Eventually I get bored and drive on the sidewalk until the police come out of no where. Then a great gunbattle breaks out…

And its all this games fault!!!

John says:


Fact: A great deal of crime is perpetrated by the 18-25 age group. This has been the case for many, many years now, check the UCR.

Fact: The 18-25 demographic likes to play video games (violent or not).

Fact: 40 years ago, the 18-25 demographic enjoyed smoking certain dry plant matter.

Fact: 40 years ago marijuana was blamed for crime.

Fallacy: Marijuana may have had an effect on crime in the past, but it’s effect was supplanted by violent video games.

Fact: Government employees largely couldn’t tell their rectum from a hole in the ground.

I have just drawn a well-reasoned conclusion based on a combination of fact and logic that Kym Worthy (who spells Kim with a y?) is full of crap.

Ferin says:


Ya know, I’m tired of people blaming video games for crime. We all know what the real problem, is, and I’m tired of skirting around the issue to keep the sensitive people comfortable.

It’s AIR people!

Look at the undeniable statistics and weep:

Crime on Earth: millions of incidents per day
Crime in space: 0 per day

The one clear difference?

Space has NO AIR!

It’s been clear to me and everybody else for a long time now that the only real way to stop crime on Earth is to remove all the air. Anyone who says otherwise is obviously only trying to protect the trillion dollar per year industry that’s built on Air’s filthy foundations.

Say no to Air today!

Just stopped in says:

What about a reverse relationship?

Did we ever think that maybe the violent games are actually a result of our violent culture with the violent culture being what prompts the violent games to be made?

Maybe these games give those people with a desire to act out their violent urges in a more constructive environment that doesn’t actually hurt anyone in the real world?

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