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

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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