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Do violent games reduce violent crime?

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Violent games

Violent games are often blamed for violent crimes. I take it as a sign that the world believes in the power of gaming’s art – in the past people burned controversial books, or heavy metal music, or horror movies. But new research implies that maybe violent games are actually good for real life crime.

Considering the frequent blame game, it makes sense that researchers decided to look into the claims to see if they held any merit. The results of the research aren’t finalized, but there is certainly a correlation between the release of major game titles and a decrease in crime.

We always have to be careful with correlational data. Correlation doesn’t mean causation. But we haven’t just looked at sales of games and violent crimes. We have taken into account trends in the data. We remove stuff that typically happens, like a spike in murders during summer and high sales of games near the Holidays, and it’s still negative. To me what is most amazing is that is never positive. It is always statistically negative.

The study’s co-author, Patrick Markey explains that there could be a variety of explanations for this. It could be that those who are attracted to violence tend to be those who enjoy these games and use it as a form of catharsis. Alternatively, when a big game comes out, more people are sitting in front of a screen instead of out in the world where they might become victims of crime. Whether it’s that the criminals or the victims are at home, the reality is that gaming seems to be good for real life crime statistics.

While I haven’t engaged in real world violence, I can certainly attest to the power of catharsis from games. When I’m angry or upset, it just feels so good to play something that lets me stab/shoot all the things. Do you think this correlation makes sense, or is there another explanation of causality that you would assume is the case?

Last Updated: September 15, 2014

57 Comments

  1. OVGrounded new game+++

    September 15, 2014 at 10:42

    If only Hitler had COD and Live speak during his childhood.

    Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      September 15, 2014 at 10:45

      He’d probably SWAT Poland with a panzer division. I’m pretty sure he’d be a hardcore gamer who wouldn’t take losing well.

      Reply

      • Rinceable

        September 15, 2014 at 10:58

        Brings a new meaning to rage quit…

        Reply

        • OVGrounded new game+++

          September 15, 2014 at 11:25

          lol best Honeymoon gift ever.

          Reply

    • Admiral Chief Assassin

      September 15, 2014 at 10:58

      Best camper ever, plenty kills, only one death πŸ˜›

      Reply

    • Admiral Chief Assassin

      September 15, 2014 at 11:00

      • OVGrounded new game+++

        September 15, 2014 at 11:06

        Im sure that if it was not for videogames there would be many more megalomaniacs aimlessly running around needing a release on poor society.

        Reply

        • Rinceable

          September 15, 2014 at 11:09

          Yes, I mean can you imagine having some dude like you on the loose?! 0_O

          Reply

          • OVGrounded new game+++

            September 15, 2014 at 11:10

            Putin has nothing on me.

    • Sageville

      September 15, 2014 at 11:23

      Imagine how many prospective “Hitlers” are out there right now!

      The only thing preventing them from taking over the world is a controller and constant game releases…

      Reply

      • OVGrounded new game+++

        September 15, 2014 at 11:23

        and Metacritic revies πŸ˜›

        Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      September 15, 2014 at 12:06

      Speaking of balls (from previous article) apparently Hitler only had one

      Reply

      • Anon A Mouse

        September 15, 2014 at 12:07

        The other one was taken out by a sniper in Sniper Elite πŸ˜‰

        Reply

    • Koevoet

      September 15, 2014 at 13:12

      Hitler on teamspeak – “Mommy they dont play nice everybody is against me”

      Reply

  2. Alien Emperor Trevor

    September 15, 2014 at 10:46

    Sure I can see it… if a significant number of violent criminals are avid gamers who put aside their murderous impulses for a week long GTA session because they commit violent crime for fun instead of perceived need. Otherwise it seems a bit silly.

    Reply

  3. Rags

    September 15, 2014 at 10:48

    What’s that saying. Games don’t cause violence. Lag does.

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief Assassin

      September 15, 2014 at 10:53

      You said it

      Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      September 15, 2014 at 12:05

      PVP does for me, at least till I get good at the specific game.

      Reply

  4. Ross Woofels Mason

    September 15, 2014 at 10:54

    Criminals like video games too? People tend to stay home and play video games?

    It’s people looking for a connection where they want to find a connection. You could probably find the same stats if you put enough time into watching chocolate bars and violent crimes.

    Reply

  5. Jonah Cash

    September 15, 2014 at 10:59

    Woke up yesterday morning to find that my boats engine was stolen over night…. I sat on my coach and shot people the whole day in the Crucible!! It really helped a lot… I was very calm the whole day!!

    Reply

    • Rinceable

      September 15, 2014 at 10:59

      Shame bro. That sucks.

      Reply

    • Admiral Chief Assassin

      September 15, 2014 at 11:01

      [inserts “I should buy a boat” meme]

      (sidenote, my condolences, what did they steal?)

      Reply

      • Jonah Cash

        September 15, 2014 at 11:02

        Only the engine!! But that is the most important part!! You can mount an engine on a door and it will be as good as a boat, but a boat without an engine is just a canoe!! And I aint rowing anywhere!!

        Reply

        • Admiral Chief Assassin

          September 15, 2014 at 11:33

          I was actually asking what engine did you have

          Reply

          • Jonah Cash

            September 16, 2014 at 06:41

            I had a 50hp Honda 4 stroke… It sniffed petrol…

          • Admiral Chief Assassin

            September 16, 2014 at 09:15

            *sigh*

        • Hammersteyn

          September 15, 2014 at 12:05

          [inserts “I should buy a engine” meme] πŸ˜›
          Just kidding, I hope the thief trips and falls with the engine crushing his nuts

          Reply

    • Dutch Matrix

      September 15, 2014 at 11:09

      Uhm… I am sorry about the boat engine. Being a victim of crime myself (twice) you have my sympathies. But I MUST ask this: Is sitting on your COACH not a bit, I dunno, aggressive?

      Reply

      • Jonah Cash

        September 15, 2014 at 11:10

        Hahahaha!!! Spring die Afrikaner in my weer op en tik soos ‘n moroon in Engels!! Hahahaha

        Reply

      • Anon A Mouse

        September 15, 2014 at 11:36

        He was playing CoD, teabagging is the norm.

        Reply

    • OVGrounded new game+++

      September 15, 2014 at 11:13

      I bet the police think he is a Videogamer, and Thief is to blame.

      Reply

    • Gareth L (That eXCheez Guy)

      September 15, 2014 at 11:17

      That’s really kak! Sorry, dude.

      Reply

    • JJ the Reus

      September 15, 2014 at 11:35

      Eish man, and you don’t live very far from me. Luckily I don’t have anything of value to steal.

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief Assassin

        September 15, 2014 at 11:39

        …what about your make-up collection?

        Reply

        • JJ the Reus

          September 15, 2014 at 11:40

          hmphhh

          Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      September 15, 2014 at 12:04

      FFS, hope the police can help. I suck at PVP at the moment, but I’ll grind it out for the legendary gear

      Reply

  6. Rinceable

    September 15, 2014 at 11:03

    I can see how this could be true. I mean I use games to vent, have done for decades. Gods I am old…

    Reply

    • OVGrounded new game+++

      September 15, 2014 at 11:15

      The problem these days is that gamers cant get to vent away in their own worlds now that everything is social. They just go nuts when an 8 year old caps their ass in COD.

      Reply

      • Rinceable

        September 15, 2014 at 11:18

        Very true. But I think there will always be games that won’t make you play online.

        Reply

        • OVGrounded new game+++

          September 15, 2014 at 11:21

          Im not so sure of that. Especially after Destiny raked in half a billion in 24hours and The Elder scrolls has ditched the SP game for more on-line bollocks.

          Like the start of the golden Horse Armour DLC that disgusted every gamer in early 2008. The frog will boil slowly.

          Reply

    • Anon A Mouse

      September 15, 2014 at 11:34

      Don’t know why you needed games to vent, you do have a brother don’t you?

      Reply

      • Rinceable

        September 15, 2014 at 11:42

        Three actually πŸ˜‰

        Reply

        • Hammersteyn

          September 15, 2014 at 12:03

          Ive got one, but he fights like shit

          Reply

          • Anon A Mouse

            September 15, 2014 at 12:05

            Mine’s three years older than me, gave me a good fight while I were still in primary school, after that I had to use gaming.

  7. Alien Emperor Trevor

    September 15, 2014 at 11:09

    I wonder if they included instances where frustration while playing video games led to physical violence – like dying again in Dark Souls or when someone insistently wants you to stop in the middle of a MP game for just a minute to do something silly like, oh I don’t know, see why a photo won’t display on the TV. Hypothetically, HTF SHOULD I KNOW?

    Reply

    • OVGrounded new game+++

      September 15, 2014 at 11:17

      More like self constraint. On the verge of letting the beast out before throwing the console out of the window and snapping the control pad over your brothers head, you remember that this shit is expensive.

      Breath in breath out.

      Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        September 15, 2014 at 11:20

        Spare the controller, spoil the child πŸ˜‰

        Reply

    • Dutch Matrix

      September 15, 2014 at 11:19

      That is a study I would fund if I won the lotto.
      My mom innocently walked in on me whilst I was busy playing a video game. I cannot recall the game, only that it was one of those god awfull frustrating games that makes you consider putting your fist through the screen whilst yelling obscenities at the developers mother.
      My mom asked me to go buy a bread. But the look I have her was all my rage at the developers, chanelled to her.
      My mom cried. I kid you not. She cried. Apparently she got the idea I hated her for interrupting my game… It was then that I realized it is only a game…

      Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        September 15, 2014 at 11:29

        I know I shouldn’t laugh, but lol, your poor mom. I honestly don’t mind them asking me stuff while I’m playing a game, but don’t ask me to pause a MP game… I can’t, because it’s MP. sigh.

        Reply

        • Dutch Matrix

          September 15, 2014 at 11:38

          Hey, I really felt like crap that day.
          Another bad thing: When they ask you something during a boss fight. And you say: Just after I kill this boss. And they go: YOU ONLY CARE ABOUT THAT GAME! MY MOM WAS RIGHT ABOUT YOU! I HATE YOU AND I HOPE YOU CRY TEARS OF BLOOD BEFORE YOUR EYEBALLS MELT! WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

          Reply

  8. Gareth L (That eXCheez Guy)

    September 15, 2014 at 11:23

    There’s a weird interpretation here that the criminals play video games and don’t commit crimes while doing so, which is plausible, I guess. I find it more likely that the stats drop because the would-be victims are huddled away safely at home playing the games.

    I can’t help noticing that the highest crimes / lowest sales sit at around the middle of the year, which is the American end of semester and Summer break (party time!). The lowest crimes / highest sales sits at the American winter and holiday season (home and family time).

    Reply

  9. JJ the Reus

    September 15, 2014 at 11:33

    Since I’ve started playing violent video games, which was when I was about 10, I’ve only killed seven people, four cows and fifteen monkeys. So, no, it definitely hasn’t changed my violent tendencies.

    Reply

  10. Hammersteyn

    September 15, 2014 at 12:02

    It sure does, we haven’t had another World War again. Or maybe it’s a coincidence?

    Reply

  11. Brady miaau

    September 15, 2014 at 12:49

    Is this like the makers of Rapelay (A terrible thing) saying they hoped to reduce actual rapes?

    And Diablo II, Classical ,music blaring in the background, doing Mephisto or Baal Runs after a tough day at work. Oh yeah, that worked.

    Reply

  12. Koevoet

    September 15, 2014 at 13:17

    I don’t think any standard criminal plays games to start with, in SA anyway

    Reply

  13. Ryanza

    September 15, 2014 at 14:04

    Don’t want to get into this. So I’ll keep it short.

    Video games has shit to do with crime. Violent video games has shit to do with violent crimes.

    Life experiences and life circumstances has everything to do with crime and violent crimes.

    Reply

  14. Tom Krager

    September 15, 2014 at 14:16

    Most of the ppl in this world doing crime are not the type of ppl that game regularly. I happen to know a lot of unsavory ppl.

    Reply

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