A BBC report (thanks Magic) tries to surmise why violent crime rates in the United States have dropped dramatically in the last twenty years. The report offers ten possible reasons for this including The Obama presidency, good police work, the fall in demand for crack cocaine, police department number crunching, aging baby boomers, a decline in children's exposure to lead in petrol, more criminals behind bars, and a controversial theory that the increased availability of legal abortion has had an impact on population in poorer neighborhoods.
But the most interesting reason comes in at number nine. That entry cites a recent study conducted by researchers in Texas working with the Centre for European Economic Research. From the article:
9. A study released last month suggested video games were keeping young people off the streets and therefore away from crime. Researchers in Texas working with the Centre for European Economic Research said this "incapacitation effect" more than offset any direct impact the content of the games may have had in encouraging violent behaviour.
There's probably data to support every one of these theories, but save the study on abortion, it is more likely that all of these factors have had a cumulative effect on violent crime in the United States. One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the rise of forensic science and the use of DNA evidence in combating crime and capturing criminals.
While we do not know what impact video games have had in reducing crime, it's obvious that games are not increasing violent crime statistics..