Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

August 23, 2011 -

Video games help reduce crime rates in the United States, according to new research conducted by the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim, the Baylor University and the University of Texas at Arlington. According to research video games reduce crime rates because they keep "potential criminal offenders" busy using their computers or gaming consoles. The study analyzed the effect of both violent and non-violent video games on the number of violent and non-violent crimes in the United States.

Video games reduce violence by drawing "potentially violent criminals" to an environment that is less volatile; living rooms screens. This in turn helps those with a tendency to commit violent crimes to avoid “alternative activities where violence is more likely to occur." On the other hand, researchers say, numerous psychology studies suggest that violent video games increase the aggressiveness of individuals (we have only seen studies that showed aggression after playing video games to be short term, for the record). Here's a bit more from the study:

"Due to these findings political decision-makers regard playing violent video games as a contributing factor to aggressive behavior of teenagers and young adults. Therefore, regulating and even prohibiting violent content in video games is frequently considered a possibility. The findings linking gameplay to an increase in aggression are mainly based on psychological laboratory experiments. However, these experiments do neither consider the intense usage of these games by relatively violence-prone people nor the resulting time use effect. This incapacitation effect prevents gamers from engaging in other violent activities during the time spent playing video games."

The study shows these two contrasting effects, researchers say; on the one hand the findings suggest an increased aggressiveness on the part of players, adding that "video games can be related to a rise in the number of violent crimes." On the other hand, the study also shows that gamers voluntarily spend a large block of their free time playing video games, which leads to a reduction of violent crimes. Researchers come to the final determination that "playing both violent and non-violent video games leads to a decrease in criminal acts."

"The effects of playing video games include both the promotion of aggressive behavior and a time use effect restricting the time for practicing aggressive behavior," says Benjamin Engelstätter, researcher at ZEW. "Our findings for the United States show that the time use effect on players is stronger than the aggression-promoting effect. Therefore, possible regulations of violent content in video games should be carefully designed. 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 that might have lost their appeal due to the regulations."

The study uses data (National Incident Based Reporting System) based on weekly observations for the United States over a period of four years from 2005 to 2008. The study also uses data from the VGChartz-System, which provided information on the sales of video console games.

The study, "Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime," can be found at Zew.de.


Comments

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

Obviously! What we need are more alternatives.

An alternative to unprotected premarital sex is masturbating to porn.

An alternative to murdering people is murdering people in video games.

People have an idea of what murder is like through playing violent video games. I wouldn't get nearly as upset from killing people in a video game than killing a person in real life (quite the opposite), but I can imagine what it's like through witnessing virtual death. Since people kind of know what is may be like, they don't feel the need to do it in real life. Either they are too kind to commit such a horrible act, or they aren't curious about it because they already witnessed it in a video game.

That's just like sex. If porn wasn't nearly as available (AKA you actually had to buy it at a store, and before the internet was invented), people would be more curious about what sex is like. Obviously it's not the same as actually having sex, but it gives them a decent idea of what it's like.

Ever notice how the fertility rate is higher in poor areas than wealthy areas? And it just so happens that they don't have as much access to computers (porn) and video games (murder)? Yet the fertility rate and the murder rate are high (compared to other areas). So my conclusion is that porn and violent video games do NOT influence people to commit the same acts as shown in them. They act as an alternative to the real thing. People who live in poorer areas have more exposure to people who do the "real thing." Now, obviously people of all socioeconomic statuses have sex, but not necessarily premarital. But those people, since they witness it from their peers and neighbors more than in other areas, they respect it more. And because they respect it more, they may be more inclined to be interested in the alternatives, although the alternatives aren't what cause them to do the real thing. Does that make sense?

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

Does porn reduce the incidence of sexual violence, such as rape? That is the debate (complete with studies) located at:http://debatepedia.idebate.org/en/index.php/Argument:_Porn_watching_may_actually_reduce_rape

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

You're making random correlations just like the article does. Don't make generalized statements and use "common sense" as your evidence, it not only has no empirical value, but weakens your impact as a speaker. If common sense were actually universal, no one would disagree.

To turn it around on you, do you think that Common Sense Media's opinions are fact because they use those words? Using the phrase "common sense" is used to feel superior to others, it implies that you have knowledge that they should agree with, and the fact that they don't puts them below the common man.

"Now, obviously people of all socioeconomic statuses have sex, but not necessarily premarital. But those people, since they witness it from their peers and neighbors more than in other areas, they respect it more. And because they respect it more, they may be more inclined to be interested in the alternatives, although the alternatives aren't what cause them to do the real thing. Does that make sense?"

Really I have no comment on this statement, just read it aloud to yourself and imagine someone else wrote it. It's barely decipherable. I'm not trying to mock your opinion, but you obviously spent some time writing your comment, so you should make sure that people can understand your point.

-Austin from Oregon

Feel free to check out my blog.

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

I'm not trying to have a debate. It's simply my opinion. And common sense is GENERALLY universal. It is common sense that the elements such as violence, sex, and language are in certain games. Although, it is up to the parent to decide whether their child can handle these elements. So yes, that part is common sense. Common sense is extracted from years of research, enough to not even have to reference the research since it is so commonly known. There is common sense in every topic, but not everyone is familiar with certain topics, but I am familiar with psychology, through reading many articles, where, in the comments section, are trolls just like you who are willing to point out any flaws in some random person's opinion, and most of the flaws you point out are only based off your insecurities. You're just trying to make yourself sound intelligent, where, in reality, you are just an arrogant cretin.

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_sense

Common sense, as described by Merriam-Webster, is defined as beliefs or propositions that most people consider prudent and of sound judgment, without reliance on esoteric knowledge or study or research, but based upon what they see as knowledge held by people "in common".

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

Ten points for Gryffindor EZN.

-Austin from Oregon

Feel free to check out my blog.

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

Obviously you have no clue what you are talking about.

Access to porn has little to nothing to do with fertility rates. Actual real life studies have shown that access to medical care and birth control is what reduces child birth rates in richer countries.

Actual studies have shown that poorer people tend to get involved in crime more often because they have less access to education and other positive social activities.

Video games and porn have nothing to do with what you are claiming.

On a side note, the fact that you are the Social Media Director for the Gamer Studio (and thus a branch of the PR department) making unfounded and biased statements while attaching yourself to the site, does not reflect well on the site itself and whatever reputation it has.

I know that you are my first interaction with anyone from that site and already I don't care for it.

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

Did I ever say that access to medical care and birth control doesn't contribute to a lower fertility rate? No.

What you are claiming is common sense, and for you to ridicule my opinions which actually have evidence through medical research, and that are believed by well-known people like Tom Wolfe (http://blog.beliefnet.com/jwalking/2007/08/tom-wolfe-pornography-and-bir...), you just sound ignorant. I'm not going on your amateur Divine Knight Gaming website. Why? The impression that you're giving me just makes your whole staff sound like obnoxious trolls like you.

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

Ok....

That was an of hand quote. Had no sources. And the person quoting Tom Wolf doubts the validity of the statement. And that is supposed to prove you right and me wrong?

Here is an actual study arguing that access to education increases the use of contraceptives:

http://www.eubios.info/EJ124/ej124i.htm

Now, as for my comments about the impression you give about the site you represent. I have based that information off of several comments from you in one day that are reactionary and hyperbolic. Those statements have given me the impression that you do not research or think about what you write. Given that you are a PR person for that website, that reflects poorly on the website as a whole.

I gather that you have not visited my website. That is fine. I took the time to look around your site before I made my comments. So I don't think everyone there is like you. But, someone who is not willing to take a look at the site you advertise would not feel the same.

 

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

Again, I never said that education doesn't lead to a lower fertility rate. You are trying to start an argument which I never even said was invalid. And his name is Tom Wolfe, not Tom Wolf, which makes your complete argument invalid. Next time, proofread your argument and make sure it is free of spelling errors. You sound just like Jack Thompson, except less educated.

And no, the Social Media Department is not even in the same category as the PR department. That is a ridiculous statement, considering you don't even work for our company.

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

Wow. Misspelling a guy's name completely invalidates a research paper that was backed by actual science. Right. You win. High School debate class is tough.

Your argument was that access to porn reduces fertility rates. You argued that because poorer nations do not have access to porn they have higher fertility rates.. I responded by stating that you were incorrect and that poorer nations have less access to education, medical care and birth control. That is the primary driver behind high fertility rates in poorer nations.

As for the Social Media Department, I stated that it was part of the PR department because in most companies it is. You build public relationships through social media. To me and many other organizations, that falls under PR.

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

There's no way I can support the conclusions they're drawing here. Their "research" is only based on extremely broad correlations and anecdotal assumptions. They're attempting to create a cause and effect relationship between the popularity and quality of games available and national crime rates, and making the assumption that because they're spending time at home playing they're not robbing banks. That's just so...wrong. You could make that same correlation with popular TV shows, or hell even with the Harry Potter phenomenon.

The author has credentials, so to redeem his approach I would say that he tried to analyze the issue like an economist, where predictions are vague and you sometimes have to create connections. But nothing stated in this article should carry any weight whatsoever. With how critically we examine anti-game or violence links for broad assumptions and poor research, we need to look at research making claims we'd like to believe also.

-Austin from Oregon

Feel free to check out my blog.

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

videogame critics have been doing the same thing for years, so this is just fighting fire with fire. (admittedly it's more like two lit candles next to each other.) if any of them call shenanigans, then it's "pot meet kettle"

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

This is pretty obvious if you think about it. People who commit acts of violence tend to be socially and emotionally stressed, frustrated, desperate, and without an outlet. Give them video games and they have a safe environment to vent those violent frustrations without risk to others or themselves. If people are able to occupy their time and frustration in a risk-free environment like video games, they won't be as compelled to act out on those issue in real life.

-Greevar

"Paste superficially profound, but utterly meaningless quotation here."

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

that is an excellent point. I wouldn't be surprised if the researchers had this in mind

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: Research: Video Games Help Reduce Crime Rates in U.S.

Lies all lies!  Even those FBI reports of the crime rate going down as violent entertainment increased are also lies! There was no crime or violence before video games were invented. Videa games are evilz!

This like everything else before it will just be another case of stick your fingers in your ears and go la la la la while ignoring the evidence by every anti-game crusader in the world.

 
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