Videogames Reduce Violent Crime in U.S.

Videogames Reduce Violent Crime in U.S.

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Can't murder now. Gaming.

There are lots of studies pertaining to videogames and criminality, but how often do you hear that games reduce crime rates? According to a recent collaborative research project, both non-violent and violent games may help reduce the rate of violent crime in the U.S. The study suggests that people who game - even ones predisposed to violence - would rather spend their time playing videogames than actually committing crimes.

To reach this conclusion, researchers from the Centre for European Economic Research, Baylor University, and the University of Texas at Arlington conducted a meta-analysis of a number of existing studies. Multiple studies show that videogames can, in fact, lead to a short-term rise in aggression, and aggression can be a cause of violent crime. However, according to the researchers in Understanding the Effect of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime, "[Video games] paradoxically may reduce violence while increasing the aggressiveness of individuals by simply shifting these individuals out of alternative activities where crime is more likely to occur." In other words, even if videogames inspire an individual to commit criminal acts, the simple act of gaming often proves more compelling than real-life criminality.

The study does not rule out tighter regulations on violent videogames, but cautions against overzealousness. "Possible regulations of violent content in video games should be carefully designed," reads the paper. "They could lead to a reduction in long-term aggressive tendencies. However, in the short-term, they would probably lead to a rise in crime rates as a number of gamers would spend less time playing video games."

This research presents an interesting dilemma. Evidence suggests that videogames can cause aggression, which could lead to violent crime. Tighter regulations could shift budding criminals out of their living rooms and onto the streets, which could lead to violent crime. For now, though, violent crime is on the decline, and videogames may be a factor.

Source: ZEW Publications via GamePolitics

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Damn studies that make gamers look like insane murderers make me want to KILL PEOPLE!

Oh, wait, it says the opposite? Carry on then.

Hey someone from Texas other than me managed to state the obvious.

Over the past umpty ump years, everything in the book has been blamed for the increase. And for the decrease? The sterling blah blah blah that never did anything different.

While I'd cheer a study that proves definitively that games have NOTHING to do with crime, or at least no more than eating strawberries, this study will be pushed under the table like Dr. Tanya Byron's "Safer Children in a Digital World".

What she said? Parents should spend more time with their kids.

What was taken from it? Parents should spend more keeping their kids safe.

Face it, until there's a worse "evil" in the world, games don't have a chance of being accepted.

And we took it off role-playing, video nasties and heavy metal music.

Ugh... I'm gonna go find the word "violent" and beat it to a bloody pulp now.
Interesting article though.

really I Think its a combination of videogames and abortion that lowers the crime rate, video games for the reasons stated above, and abortion since it prevents as many unwanted babies in house holds that cant really afford to have kids or want them

But seriously, while I applaud a study that for once takes a different view of things, I have a hard time believing any direct correlation between games and crime.

Formica Archonis:
Damn studies that make gamers look like insane murderers make me want to KILL PEOPLE!

Oh, wait, it says the opposite? Carry on then.

No it states that video games cause a short term rise in aggression. It also states that violent crime in the US is on the decline. It provides absolutely no evidence at all that the two are linked in any way. This so called study proves absolutely nothing at all other then restating facts that people already know and were proven by other studies. It also appears that it is using old data since that graph ends at 2009. Arrests for violent crime has also slightly increased over the years which could be a factor in this as well.

It's a speculative study, they can't directly prove cause and effect but they can provide numbers that refute the "video games cause violence" that has been bounced about and I'm sure you are all familiar with. What this study is actually saying is that a: read the previous sentence and b: video game legislation should not be put forward without significant forthought as there is a chance it will increase the rate of crime.
This is a positive step. Or it would be if video game detractors hadn't already decisively proved that they don't give a damn about reason and evidence.

What's that saying? Correlation does not imply causation?

There's no real link here between video games and the decrease in crime. This is not anything new, either. People have used BoJ statistics for YEARS to indicate the same, but it doesn't really prove that there's any relationship between the two.

And yes, I realise that I'm condemning something that is on "my side" of the argument. I hate bad logic, even if it supports me.

Zachary Amaranth:
What's that saying? Correlation does not imply causation?

There's no real link here between video games and the decrease in crime. This is not anything new, either. People have used BoJ statistics for YEARS to indicate the same, but it doesn't really prove that there's any relationship between the two.

And yes, I realise that I'm condemning something that is on "my side" of the argument. I hate bad logic, even if it supports me.

Ino right? An entire study who's premise is based on a logical fallacy(Post Hoc Fallacy)!

Seriously? These guys are either getting graded for this or are the ones teaching the students. Either way, they need to be hit really hard!

Bad form Escapist and Honorof. Greg Tito posted about this same article not two months ago and he at least had the integrity to post a link to it and not pretend like it was a new story. Since you couldn't be bothered to link to his article, please allow me...

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/111191-Less-Crime-in-U-S-Thanks-to-Videogames

And the article itself...

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1804959

As for the article itself, it has three big problems.

1. I'm not saying that someone "outside the guild" of professional psychology or sociology can't make a contribution to a field outside their expertise, but when *economists* working for an *economic* institute put out a study of other people's studies, people who are "in the guild," that will, if believed, improve the *economic* prospectus of a given industry, we might need to engage in a little word counting and ask some questions about the veracity of their claims.

2. I'm outside of both the Economic and Sociological guilds so I am not myself familiar with the SSRN but it seems as if it is not a peer-reviewed publication. Furthermore, the article's status on the SSRN as a "working paper" makes it seem even less credible. (If someone is familiar with the SSRN please feel free to correct me on this. As I said, it's outside of the regular databases I use so it may be perfectly respectable within its field.)

3. As stated above, the article is frequently confusing correlation and causation. Using correlation in academic work *isn't a bad thing* unless you stop your academic work with simply showing a correlation and then go on to theorizing as if you had just shown a causation. This is exactly what the article does.

Finally, just in way of examining our community's reaction to this article, read the twenty or so comments surrounding this one and then recall this Critical Miss...

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/comics/critical-miss/8903-Critical-Miss-Gamer-Science

Now ask yourself if most of those comments aren't exactly what the comic predicts about Gamers and gamer science.

The argument that games cause violence as a necessity is laughable, trite, and put forward largely by the culturally ignorant, but the way to combat a lie isn't with bad science and humming loudly while we cover our ears with questionable journal articles. The way forward is to honestly admit problems in our community where they exist and face them head on and without fear. If we become that kind of community, then we just might actually make the world a better place in reality and not just in theory.

Marshall Honorof:
Can't murder now. Gaming.

Hehe, I got a real kick out of this line. I'd love to see it in a movie or something.

AvsJoe:

Marshall Honorof:
Can't murder now. Gaming.

Hehe, I got a real kick out of this line. I'd love to see it in a movie or something.

It's from the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror where they do a spoof of The Shining. When the ghouls ask Homer why he is not killing his family (Homer is locked in the pantry eating), Homer replies "Can't murder now. Eating."

Duh. People are lazy. It takes a lot less effort to kill a bunch of people on a screen than it does to actually go outside and attack them.

While it's nice to see a study look at things from two perspectives, I still find it hard to see why games are linked to the current US crime rate. Aggressiveness isn't exclusively caused by games, and if that's case, why aren't we asking if there is a link between American football, or rugby, or half the sports in the Olympics and criminal activity?

Stick to Economics, guys. Let the Psychologists sort out the behaviour stuff, okay? Besides, metas are almost always contingent on what the researchers decide on being factors for consideration, for all we know, this person may have had as much of an agenda as the anti-gaming studies we see.

The-Epicly-Named-Man:
While it's nice to see a study look at things from two perspectives, I still find it hard to see why games are linked to the current US crime rate. Aggressiveness isn't exclusively caused by games, and if that's case, why aren't we asking if there is a link between American football, or rugby, or half the sports in the Olympics and criminal activity?

I think the mentality of thinking of people who play games as a different category is bad. People will play games,which means you will have the potential thiefs,murderers and even worse. The fact that games keep them occupied instead of actually going outside and do "bad things" is a huge thing.

To be honest I have yet to read source but this is an old study and doesn't seem to be much better than anti video game ones as it simply seems to be people play video and crime happened to go down they must be related. I am sure there are many more factors and this stops just when the recession was getting really bad and prolonged when anti social behaviour in recessions starts to happen.

You know what also reduces crime?

Free Circuses.

You know when we figured that out?

About seventeen centuries ago.

People who are sustained and entertained don't generally have reasons to kill each other.

238U.

DefiningReality:
Bad form Escapist and Honorof. Greg Tito posted about this same article not two months ago and he at least had the integrity to post a link to it and not pretend like it was a new story. Since you couldn't be bothered to link to his article, please allow me...

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/111191-Less-Crime-in-U-S-Thanks-to-Videogames

And the article itself...

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1804959

As for the article itself, it has three big problems.

1. I'm not saying that someone "outside the guild" of professional psychology or sociology can't make a contribution to a field outside their expertise, but when *economists* working for an *economic* institute put out a study of other people's studies, people who are "in the guild," that will, if believed, improve the *economic* prospectus of a given industry, we might need to engage in a little word counting and ask some questions about the veracity of their claims.

2. I'm outside of both the Economic and Sociological guilds so I am not myself familiar with the SSRN but it seems as if it is not a peer-reviewed publication. Furthermore, the article's status on the SSRN as a "working paper" makes it seem even less credible. (If someone is familiar with the SSRN please feel free to correct me on this. As I said, it's outside of the regular databases I use so it may be perfectly respectable within its field.)

3. As stated above, the article is frequently confusing correlation and causation. Using correlation in academic work *isn't a bad thing* unless you stop your academic work with simply showing a correlation and then go on to theorizing as if you had just shown a causation. This is exactly what the article does.

Finally, just in way of examining our community's reaction to this article, read the twenty or so comments surrounding this one and then recall this Critical Miss...

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/comics/critical-miss/8903-Critical-Miss-Gamer-Science

Now ask yourself if most of those comments aren't exactly what the comic predicts about Gamers and gamer science.

The argument that games cause violence as a necessity is laughable, trite, and put forward largely by the culturally ignorant, but the way to combat a lie isn't with bad science and humming loudly while we cover our ears with questionable journal articles. The way forward is to honestly admit problems in our community where they exist and face them head on and without fear. If we become that kind of community, then we just might actually make the world a better place in reality and not just in theory.

What I would like to see, to demonstrate whether this is correlation and causation, is stats from different states. Bear with me here. If different states have different penetrations of gaming then it would be interesting to see how violent crime drops between states with lots of gamers vs states with low amounts of gamers. You could also check against different state wealth vs amount of gamers vs drop in violent crime rates. I add population wealth as wealth per citizen increase could also be the thing that decreases violent crime, and also happens to allow people to buy gaming systems. So it's worth check that it is videogames rather than affluence that has the link.

If you find that states with high gaming populations have the highest drops in violent crime and that state population wealth does not affect the amount of decrease in those crimes vs amount of gamers, I would think that would go a long way to proof causation rather than correlation.

If you read the Freekonomics books they make a very good statistical case that the crime drops have been due to the legalisation of abortion 20 years before the crime drop....

Isn't this kinda old news? I know some study or other about reducing crime rates due the video games was sourced in a BBC article about a month ago.

OT: It sortof makes sense.

MUST MURDER EVERYONE... Ooh, new hat for my pyro!

Watch... pretty soon... it's gonna be:

"War, is the thing of the past, now, there is only 'Continental LAN Party' for the warriors (top gamers from all over the world representing their countries gather in [insert your favorite location] to decide all deputes by a Quake3 match; from territory expansion, religious domination (holy war), to simple 'I don't like [insert your favorite racial slur]'!"

yeh... can't wait to see that day comes... oh wait... no... Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese would probably own us all... I take that back...

Minor note... didn't someone do a report on Japanese and their low rape rate for(because) extremely assessable porn everywhere (they even sells them in vending machines!)

Now if more countries would get around to legalizing marijuana, we'd see a huge drop in free time. It's funny, though. I guess the religious folks were right with their "idle hands" jabber.

Stupid forum ate my post then spat it out again..

Worgen:
really I Think its a combination of videogames and abortion that lowers the crime rate, video games for the reasons stated above, and abortion since it prevents as many unwanted babies in house holds that cant really afford to have kids or want them

i agree, but i'd put the emphasis more on bad parenting and poor judgement due to terrible societal rules

society ( and the health+beauty industry ) tend to push people into marriages, relationships ect that they weren't ready for
especially these teen/twenty's magazines with articles the like of 'ten ways to pull' and 'how to look 5 years younger in a day' and 'over 30? life's officially over according to experts!' and that kind of crap.
the trend of breeding at an ever younger age just increases the population faster, putting strain on the economy and parent's wallets and artificially increases the price of entertainment
because company's see 'demand' so they feel they can charge whatever they want and people will often go into debt to pay for things like large 'family' tv's
( gotta love how company's market stuff to you as well, eh )

most of my friends owe something to someone, one completely blacklisted himself to the tune of 6k for a pc that is already out of date two years later
( i told him not to do this, he ignored me because he felt i was trying to 'compete' with him, which is another problem with society the 'status' people command with 'stuff' .. it's a joke, really. and now i have a better pc by taking upgrade paths and he's in debt and can't afford games for it..)

basically, people haven't learned common sense or achieved a state of balance in their lives before spawning the brats that they can't then cope with, relate to or teach or taking other financial burdens they ultimately cannot manage, some of them turn to soft drugs to ease their 'pain', because recreational abuse of substances is also part of our society and that is tied into the original 'unprepared for life / responsibility / common sense ( i wish it was )' comment i made before
most of which is causal of 'bad parenting' in general
and you see how this is a cause / effect chain? making the poor poorer, and perpetuating the same societal flaws that cause the original issue, combined with overcrowding will lead to total societal breakdown if intervention is not made on a large scale.
you see examples of this in the uk with rioting, ect.

there are allot of massive flaws in society that nobody will admit to, and will even go to great lengths to cover up
blaming crime on something you don't understand is easier than admitting you are perpetuating a problematic ideal, in this case one that simply does not exist

the main issue people have to come to terms with here is nothing is perfect but you have to do certain things in order or you end up making mess that you can never fully cope with

I wish people would stop looking at two little things and trying to link them. Its insane.

Video games increase, crime decreases. THEY MUST BE RELATED!!
Guy A murders Guy B with a fork. Guy A plays video games. THEY MUST BE RELATED!!

Did you know 100% of cancer patients admitted to breathing on a regular basis? Breathing clearly causes cancer.

Many people who go out drinking say they wake up the next morning with no money. Clearly proximity to alcohol causes money to evaporate.

I just published 4 theories, can I get paid to be a scientist now?

Oooh, I know. Video games cause global warming! Now its 5!

People are complicated. Saying video games caused ANYTHING is like saying one snowflake caused an avalanche. There are many many factors before something will happen. Picking ONE to blame is simplistic and means you are a moron.

</rant>

I feel better now.

SirBryghtside:
Wait... did you just post something on the Escapist about videogame violence that wasn't completely biased and refuting any evidence that links the two?

*applauds*

Nice article.

You'd have to do something a bit more complicated than stick two graphs together to judge whether there was actually any relation.

 

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