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 behavioral problems) and the spread of cameraphones (criminals are wary of the increased possiblity 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 analyzed 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 commiting 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 agressively in the real one.

Violent Video Games Contribute to Dropping Crime Rate, Study Suggests

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