Violent Video Games Contribute To Dropping Crime Rate, Study Suggests

As it turns out, all that warning that violence in video games is bad for your brain may be... well... wrong.

According to a recent paper based on studies at the University of Texas,"Overall, violent video games lead to decreases in violent crime."

The paper was referenced in an article by the BBC which examines the drop in crime rate that has occurred in America for the last 20 years. The BBC article cites 10 possible reasons for this drop, though the increase in violent video games is arguably the most counter-intuitive. Other possible reasons include a decrease in children's exposure to lead (which can cause behavioural problems) and the spread of cameraphones (criminals are wary of the increased possibility of being caught on camera).

The study, which was done at the University of Texas, does not rule out negative effects of video games on players - in fact it concluded that the playing of violent video games can cause aggression, but in a positive way. "Though there is evidence that violent video games cause aggression in a laboratory setting, there is no evidence that violent video games cause violence or crime. In fact, two recently published studies analysed the effect of violent media (movies and video games) on crime, and found increased exposure may have caused crime rates to decrease." The decrease in violent crime in relation to violence in games is a direct result of the "incapacitation effect". Put simply, if you're inside playing games, you're voluntarily not outside committing crimes.

You may be thinking All right, but what about that aggression brought on by gaming? You've got to put down the controller some time. What then? The University of Texas concludes that "The time use effect of violent video games reduce crime by more than the aggression effects increase it...nearly all the laboratory evidence that currently exists has only uncovered very short-term [aggression] " In other words, players with agressive instincts are essentially getting it out of their system in the virtual world, and able to go on less aggressively in the real one.

Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime [via Social Science Research Network]


Comments

    So.... Who is going to show the ACL this study? Oh wait no, I'm sure they'd just say it was a biased and an attempt to undermine social values or some such.

      Didn't you read their latest batch of crazy? Apparently counter arguements are a conspiracy by the electronics market to boost their sales by peddling their filthy violent wares to otherwise angelic, church going children.

    Man, this is stupid. Don't say that games aren't involved when someone commits a murder then come around and suggest that they are linked to crime rates. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

      Actually, you seem to have the wrong end of the stick completely here. What they are saying is that whilst games may in fact be having an effect on crime rates, it appears to be by decreasing them, not causing them like the alarmists and media-blitz have been trying to make out when they attribute murders and criminal acts to them.

      So yes, they can say games were not the cause of as murder, and still turn around and say that if anything games appear to be having a positive effect on the behaviour of society

        But since the introduction of violent, mass-market controversial games (1997 or so) the rate has steadied to a negligible decline. If anything that would suggest that 3D shooters actually stopped the decline of murder rates. But that's not true, because correlation is not causality. This graph is irrelevant to games.

        Video games are a form of violent media; absorbing violent media can influence violent behavior.
        There is no doubt that video games can be a negative influence to certain people, particularly players who have trouble distinguishing the context of the game from reality.

          There has never been a study that has been able to definitively indicate that violent games cause violent actions or negatively impact a person's mental health or stability, whereas if you look beyond the graph to the actual studies being cited, you would see the reasons why they believe violent games to be an outlet for violent emotions rather than a cause for violent behaviour or aggression outside of the game environment.

            The crime is in the major cities and has to do with blkcas and gangs. Nobody seems to want to take on black crime. This is why white people moved away. My city which was a small town 20 years ago now has a population of over 400,000 and we are 99.9% white. The last murder we had was 18 years ago and it was an outsider.

    @Rainer
    But isn't this how we should take EVERY study?
    Doesn't matter who wrote it or what it says, we should be critical because no study gives us a complete picture. While I welcome studies that show some of the positive effects of Video Games (especially in a field like the study of aggression and aggressive & anti-Social behaviours we have to look at the bigger picture. I know that Video Games can cause aggressive behaviour (in me) from my own experience but does that mean that every gamer becomes aggressive playing games?
    I will wait until I read this report to make a decision on what it means but I am a firm believer in the truth, not just the truth I want to hear.

    This is a load of tripe. Roe vs Wade is responsible for this decline. Nothing else. These types of studies are completely misguided. On the other hand, those who state videogames make people aggressive, treat aggression as a psychological trait and view that as a precursor to violent behaviour. It is not a debate, but a fallacy. Period.

    A good question to ask is weather the increased 'aggression' that studies have claimed is an effect of violent video games is a bad trait.

    Aggression, in the sense it is used, could also be called competitive behavior. In the same way, racing games could cause you to drive faster, or more 'aggressively'.

    GAMEZ AFFETING LIVES!!!! NOEEESSS!!!!

    This anouncement brought to you by ignorant over-protective parents everywhere.

    In all seriousness, I'm not sure about crime rate, but the aggression side of things has been known for a while now. Kind of sad that so much of this study will be ignored because it won't victimize a group of people who just want to hang and play. I would of thought there were more social problems to focus on but I guess works of fiction and shiny toys do let the terrorists win.

    Uh....didn't you guys post about this same study yesterday?

    http://www.kotaku.com.au/2011/06/are-video-games-helping-reduce-crime/

    Had a crappy day? hop on voicecoms with your friends and shoot some stuff. You know, day's not so bad. Vent that anger out and you don't have it with you the rest of your life. Sounds like a winning ideology to me!

    Also in terms of the study (and all the other studies ever). People like magic bullets. They want to point at something and say "That's why!" when really we're complex organisms that live in complex environments and the likelihood is that there are many factors involved in our actions.

    where do i start with how stupid the assumptions of this study is? Utterly misleading and of no value.
    You cannot use cross-society generalizations when arguing cause OR affect for any argument for behaviour. It must be taken on an individual basis.
    Fact is, there are some indivuduals who will be affected by violent video games as a peturbator to their real world actions. This should not be taken as confirmation bias that violent games are bad or injurious to society as a whole.

    What caused violent crime before we had movies and video games to blame?

    I like most Homicide episodes up until Andre Braugher left. When Jon Polito, Ned Beatty, and the Baldwin guy left, the show did lose a step, but Kellerman made up for it soahmewt. Clark Johnson as Meldrick and whatshisname as Munch are two of my favorite characters. And Yaphet Kotto as G. That one you have the clip from, when D'Onofrio gets caught in the subway, is one of my favorites. And, of course, I like the one where Pembleton and Bayliss get the Arabber in the box for the Ladena Watkins murder. Classic. It's so unlike Law & Order where things get wrapped up in a nice, neat package and the murder is always solved.

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