Rocket Science: Games Don’t Cause Crime, May Be Key to Education

A NASA researcher speaking at a University of Manitoba workshop discussed using video games as an educational tool and disputed supposed links between games and criminal behavior.

As reported by the Truro Daily News, NASA’s Daniel Laughlin said:

Since 1993, violent crime in Canada and the U.S. has declined by 50 per cent and during that time the video gaming industry has exploded. If video games were really linked to crime, then we wouldn’t have seen that decline in violence.

Laughlin is the learning technologies project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Baltimore. The space agency is working on an MMO to sharpen math and science skills among high school and college students:

I’d love to see a space-based game where the players are placed in real careers — astrophysicists, aerospace engineer. It would be a game where you need the expertise of real science to succeed… It’s got to be fun, first. Without the fun, no one will want to play it and it won’t be successful. But it has to use real science.


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  1. LyricB says:

    Crime flourishes when unemployment is on the rise and when our economy is down. Most of the people who are doing desperate acts are those who are less fortunate and illiterate. I know that most parents can’t afford to send their children in school because of financial hardship. With the rising college tuition fee, there’s no doubt that the number of the children who are not going to school this year will increase. For others, acquiring education loans such as the student loan is a big help in order for them to pay their tuition and miscellaneous fees. However, it can seriously add to your burden, and are a leading cause of people needing debt relief or looking into bankruptcy.  Discharging student loans under bankruptcy is difficult; to do so would require meeting the hardship standard. If they figure into a bankruptcy, most likely the filing would be under Chapter 13, and student loan repayment would be continued.   It would also be better to use a payday loan if you come up short on a payment than letting it slip or using a credit card. Read more at

  2. Ixian says:

    Personally I’d love to see some well done science games, that don’t go so far as to be unplayable by people without a degree.

    A biology one where the player can study simulated bacteria and virii, analyze the genetic code of animals, etc. Maybe a real CSI game that doesn’t fail and doesn’t rely on TV fantasy for solving cases but actually uses realistic crime scene set-ups that make the player really work to find the clues and piece them together. NASA engineer game designing new space suits, rockets, shuttles, etc.

    Done well I think all of these and more could be made and generate interest in their respective fields while preparing our youth to have the critical thinking skills and knowledge to be successful in college/their work. For an example the biology one for bacteria/virii could be the reverse of that Pandemic flash game, and you have to come up with a cure to a deadly disease before it kills off all humanity. I could get behind a game like that.

  3. Neeneko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Properly done such a MMO could be an EvE killer.  Unlikly but the concept has some potential.  One of the big complaints about EvE as a space sim is it’s fantasy physics……

  4. ConstantNeophyte says:

    Because the first thing I think of when I think of fun is astrophysics…

    Oh, and, with all the eloquence I can muster: Suck it JT!

    -ConstantNeophyte: always the newb, ALWAYS.

  5. Conejo says:

    i’d agree on the "fun != astrophysics" theory, until i found out my little brother was having intense conversations about mutated virus strands.  so yeah, diff’rent strokes and all that.

    Here are we — and yonder yawns the universe.

  6. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    Probably not, considering he acknowledged that the "videogames are a factor in crime" is shit. ‘Course, Jack is completely batshit insane.

    -GRIZZAM PRIME(c)is property of the U.S. Marine Corp. Wetworks Dept., and also The Incredible Hulk-GRIZZAM PRIME is not to be associated with GRIZZAM 512 or any other GRIZZAM entity under penalty of law, so sayith ZARATHOS.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The correlation between crime rates and videogames "exploding" is just as  big a pile of stinking logic-poop as the ‘he had played a violent videogame at some point in the past, so it had to be an effect’.

    Just because the asshat pulling the spew from his wazoo is on your side doesn’t make his "point" any less assinine.

  8. Velvet_Llama says:

    Nobody said that video games have caused a decrease in violent crime, chill out dude. All that has been said is that if violent video games are causing an “epidemic” of violent crime, where is the rise in crime?

  9. Zerodash ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Anonymous

    If you mean that the idea of games causing lower crime rates, then I’d agree with you.

    Is that what you mean?  Or are you disagreeing that the crime data is wrong/faked like a certain someone?

  10. L. Kutner ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Anonymous

    It’s basic statistics. Correlation is necessary but not sufficient for causation.

    For the population as a whole, the fact that the two measures (crime and video game play) are going in opposite directions is enough to preclude the belief that playing violent video games increases the likelihood that a typical person will act violently in the real world.

    That doesn’t mean that some individuals may not be affected by playing violent video games; there may be some people who are more sensitive to the effects or, more likely, for whom playing violent video games in some way is a marker of risk for violent behavior in the real world. (For example, having high cholesterol is a marker of increased risk for having heart disease.) But that’s very different from saying that the games cause the behavior.

  11. Conejo says:

    this scientician is simply ignoring the hype and fearmongering to linger on piddly facts.  what a moron.

    Here are we — and yonder yawns the universe.

  12. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    Who knows what it means? Perhaps games do lead to a decrease in violence, maybe not. Hell, who’s to say that the rates wouldn’t be even lower were it not for video games. The whole damn thing is a giant question mark.


    -GRIZZAM PRIME(c)is property of the U.S. Marine Corp. Wetworks Dept., and also The Incredible Hulk-GRIZZAM PRIME is not to be associated with GRIZZAM 512 or any other GRIZZAM entity under penalty of law, so sayith ZARATHOS.

  13. Jack Thompson, Dickhead says:


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