Study contends video games decrease violent crime


— 11:03 AM on June 23, 2011

For years, decades even, we've been told that violent video games are bad, mmmkay. The violent ones are supposed to be particularly insidious because they desensitize folks to brutality and encourage them to act out virtual fantasies in the real world. What if violent video games actually decreased violent crime? That's the assertion of a paper published by the Social Science Research Network titled Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime.

Right in the abstract, the authors confirm that their research supports psychological studies that have found a "positive relationship between violent video game play and aggression." However, they also discovered a "voluntary incapacitation effect in which playing either violent or non-violent games decrease crimes."

When sales of violent video games rise, often after a new title hits the market, overprotective mothers might expect violent crime to rise accordingly. The evidence points to the contrary. When new games are released, violent crime drops. The theory is that delinquents who spend their time gaming have less of it to expend on nefarious activities outside the digital realm.

There is still concern that violent video games can encourage aggressive behavior. However, the so-called "time use effect" would appear to outweigh any increase in aggression simply by giving would-be criminals something better to do. Thanks to Slashdot for the tip.

   
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