Games credited with crime reduction - Study

University of Texas, Baylor, European researchers think "incapacitation effect" in games is helping keep potential offenders off the street and out of trouble.

by

All too often, psychological researchers publish papers that link violent video games to aggressive and other antisocial behavior. However, a new study suggests that games--both violent and nonviolent--actually help reduce violent crime.

Could virtual Grand Theft Auto be preventing real-life grand theft auto?

The study, titled "Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime" was performed by researches from Baylor University, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the Center for European Economic Research's Information and Communication Technologies Research Group.

On one hand, it did support the findings of prior studies linking violent games and aggression. On the other, though, it found that games actually reduced violent crime by keeping potential offenders off the street and out of trouble. The study called this an "incapacitation effect" and found that "Overall, violent video games lead to decreases in violent crime."

The notion that games could reduce criminal activity is gaining traction. Recently, the BBC, citing the aforementioned study, listed games as one of its top 10 theories behind the drop in violent crime in the US over the past two decades. Other factors include a decline in the demand for crack cocaine, smarter policing techniques, increased incarceration rates, and the elimination of lead in petrol, which was linked to brain damage-induced behavioral problems.

Discussion

208 comments
Draco11529
Draco11529

This is a BS study, i live in Illinois crime has gone to a record high in ten years. about every other day there is a shooting or some kid is caught sellin meth. btw i live no where near Chicago or the subberbs

TheStickMafia
TheStickMafia

When you want to start a riot just pull out gta and start one, I agree with this study. People are always saying how video games are a bad choice. But you see it declines crime.

Ultimate39
Ultimate39

@penandpencilman Well I always thought of it like this: "Hey, I'm making millions in Grand Theft Auto, I can do this in real life! If only Grand Theft Auto taught me how to turn off the safety, or actually find a gun."

penandpencilman
penandpencilman

I think it would be the exact opposite, hey, I'm making millions of dollars in Grand Theft Auto, I can do this in real life!

TonyTwist_basic
TonyTwist_basic

I've been gaming since Space Invaders was new to the arcades, and it doesn't have a thing to do with whether one has vices or not. That's a personal choice that has nothing to do with anything other than choices. Not that I'm doggin' on anyone here... I'm not, but lets look at this thru reality's lense. Crime has gone down, and in some ways, video games are responsible for that decline, but lets looks at why. People are at home more... more time out side of the public eye to do as they please within their own home where no one knows any different. Violent people commit acts of violence when provoked. Partly this is due to upbringing & education, partly due to moralistic reasons, and in the end, due to a choice... or a lack of understanding of the power of their choices (which comes back around to education). So yes, violence is down in the states, but the reasons why aren't as cut and dry as a simple answer, such as the rise in gaming trends. Sure, crack usage is down, but meth usage is way, way up. Kids aren't out on the streets as much, partly due to video games, partly due to TV, but it doesn't mean they are committing more or less crimes. It simply means that they aren't being caught as often, and that can be partially attributed to the state of the economy (no money to spend).

HappyApryl
HappyApryl

I've been playing video games since before it was cool. I'm glad too because it kept me from doing all the bad things, ie: drugs, smoking, drinking. Who can do all those things and be a video game addict. thanks games!!!!!!!

Rasu89
Rasu89

I find this possible. After all in gta you can steal cars one after another without any penalty (obviously) other than an in-game wanted level and it is easy as a press of a button. So why do it in real life? Violence in games is better than being violent in reality.

osmdx
osmdx

the psp vita have games gta and pes and fifa and call of dudy ?????

cube-gage
cube-gage

Well plenty of drug dealers just lay about all day playing madden, mortal kombat, cod, gta where as in the past they would go out and shoot and rape and beat more.

goggle1
goggle1

Interesting. I certainly see it that way as well. Being violent in video games has actually stopped me from being violent in real life.

burgeg
burgeg

I've been saying this for years. In my own personal experience, when something happens that makes me pissed off, I'll cool off by going on rampages in GTA. Thanks to games I take my anger out on games and not real people. I've said for years I cant be the only one with that mentality and games like GTA help reduce real life violence, not cause it. Nice to see a study agreeing with me about that for once.

xtiansk8
xtiansk8

Basically it says that videogames make you apply violence on them and not on real life. I've always been thinking this way and it was about time that they made a study out of it that has this conclusion.

darklord_dragon
darklord_dragon

this has to be the biggest bull s**t study ever. Was anyone else confused by the last paragraph? O and i agree violent video games don't make violent crimes. The only link is violent people play violent games.

LondonGamer986
LondonGamer986

Weren't that long ago that games were being blamed for every single negative thing that happens on this planet. So, Good to see someone saying the opposite.

Angel_Belial
Angel_Belial

@bigcrusha No need to repeat anything - I read your post in its entirety. I personally don't think there has been a decline in crime, which is why I take this study with a grain of salt. Just look around and compare how it was when our parents were growing up to how it is now (assuming most of us discussing this are in our teens to thirties). Also, there is a far cry between getting into mischief as kids once used to back in the 'good old days', and committing serious offenses that warrant jail. Teens shouldn't have to be constantly occupied/babysat just to keep from committing crimes, which is why I consider this a modern societal problem.

senseless_dj
senseless_dj

Games keep you at home,keep you safe,keep others safe from you,keep you entertained. So hail to the games baby...B-)

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

Problem Jack Thompson? trollface.jpg

bigcrusha
bigcrusha

@Angel_Belial As i stated in my previous comment, I repeat: "Most of these criminals get into mischief from a young age, peer pressure to try drugs, shoplifting. Even psycological effects such as sexual abuse and molestation, or increased exposure to violence and spousal abuse. These things could potentially influence the child into a criminal lifestyle." That is the root cause. Btw, crime is at a sharp decrease since the 70's, while the news implies a rise in crime rate, statistics show otherwise, and they seem to decrease more annually. I also apologize if my previous point implied that game baby sitting is the solution. The solution to the problem is parents, when I say video games, the distraction they create gives the parents the time they need to talk to their children and teach them moral conformity. Parents simply don't have the time as they did in the 50's due to work hours, so they unintentionally leave their children at the mercy of media influence as well as the influence from other children. Parents need to implicate themselves more in his or her child's life through dicipline, they must also give the child more constructive activities to spend their time on rather then going out and causing mischief. Video games, sports, anything...

Angel_Belial
Angel_Belial

@bigcrusha - Thanks for your comments. I realise they're not the only crimes, but they are some of the most horrific, which is why I listed those. The problem is that some crimes that start out as (for example) theft, can then go on and lead to rape or murder. I think if people are needing to use games as babysitters, which is not a good thing in itself, then we really need to take a closer look at just what is wrong with society today, because it hasn't always been like this. Crime rates in the West are through the roof compared to what they were in the 50s and earlier.Having TV and video games baby sit children just so they won't turn into horrible criminals, is not much of a solution to the root societal causes.

CageFightingDav
CageFightingDav

NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF DAVE LAMBERT HADN'T OF DRESSED UP AS DARTH VADER

dstv
dstv

My parents need to see this ...

bigcrusha
bigcrusha

@Angel_Belial I think you're looking at this study all wrong, shooting and raping aren't the only rated crimes, there's also stealing, drug dealing etc... Most of these criminals get into mischief from a young age, peer pressure to try drugs, shoplifting. Even psycological effects such as sexual abuse and molestation, or increased exposure to violence and spousal abuse. These things could potentially influence the child into a criminal lifestyle. That's why parents are often prompted to put their children in recreational activites from a young age, activities such as football or hockey keeps them distracted rather than causing public mischief with friends. Video games are also a source of distraction. Not to confuse my point for saying videogames and sports are the sole reason why children stay out of trouble. Good parenting would be among the strongest factors but this study further demonstrates that distractions help in keeping potential offenders in line before reaching that mentality. Consider video games as an artificial moral babysitter to keep your kid stitting still while your working, that way you can continue to shape him with positive morale when you return home. That I suppose would be the only logical explanation behind a decreased crime rate since the 70's.

psycho75
psycho75

Whaaat?ha ha ha,this is a new one,at least this one is more funny than the other way around but i don't believe it either,i just don't mix fiction with reality.

Angel_Belial
Angel_Belial

Wow, crime has gone down in the US? That is news in and of itself, because everything I've read in the news, and heard from Americans themselves, crime is worse than ever. Look how it was in the 50's, now look at America today. Nah, I'm not buying this study. Obviously I play games with violence and I'm pro-games, but they're not going to stop violence in those who are predisposed to it. Taking criminals off the street isn't removing their violent tendencies, it's just keeping them lazy on the couch until they bother to get out and shoot/rape someone...which they inevitably will.

VintAge68
VintAge68

@Hairygrim: In principle, I too might be inclined to believe in some "catharsis" or emotional cleansing: for Aristotle, the dramatic incidents exposed in tragedy would arouse "pity and fear" and the resulting relief thus have a purging effect on the spectator, an idea that might apply also to today horror movies. However, by no means should plays show evil being rewarded, but rather some imitable moral examples; moreover, while also for Aristotle purgation was only an ideal, psychotherapy even considers some backward mechanism in the idea of anger management through "cathartic aggression". Hence, while consumerist saturation may truly reduce aggressive behavior, one might also be getting addicted to experiencing strong sensations... Though I am just glad that for once video games are not getting diabolized, all ever depends whether one is able to abstract from the fictional context and get back to reality...

dah_master
dah_master

If they can get someone like Obama to say this... I'm good...

warbrady
warbrady

@JOKER677 lol id love to see that episode of police camera action (you'll rear end a lorry in the end XD )

JOKER677
JOKER677

Give them a racing game and see what happens, after playing Burnout I've been wanting to drive in the oncoming lane hahaha

lazycomplife
lazycomplife

On a related note, I'm very desensitized to fake violence. Some people don't know the difference between real life and games.

lazycomplife
lazycomplife

Yeah I've always thought this. I've already felt the thrill of going postal in a game. If I hadn't, I might just want to have had that thrill by going postal in real life. Good thing the games prevented my imprisonment.

Zloth2
Zloth2

@PumpkinBoogie - the only way you stop that is with a new form of entertainment. You don't hear them complaining about how satanic Dungeons & Dragons is anymore, do you? That wasn't because some studies came out.

Heshertonfist
Heshertonfist

@sagelund I agree, it is odd to see the community's reaction when a study shows the negative effects vs. the positive effects. I just think that no one wants to admit that games can have a negative influence at all, it's either a positive influence or there isn't an influence.

Heshertonfist
Heshertonfist

I don't think we'll ever know the truth. Everyone will be affected differently, there will always be those who use games as a scapegoat and there will always be parents who don't understand the ratings and there will always be that small percent of the population who are violent anyway but play games.

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

Heh...really?? Took you 'academics' this long to figure that out? lol I ain't mad at ya though....just make sure you forward your findings to the appropriate pain-the-ass politicians that act like they wanna keep hatin' & blaming video games for violence in youths & we'll call it even. :P

hunter8man
hunter8man

No shock there. Better to take out your aggression in a virtual world than in the real one.

simon1812
simon1812

neonblueshadow you are exposed every time you fill up your vehicle's tank with fuel. after doing it for many years it starts to pay a toll on your health, but the risk is minor now for the reason mentioned in this article.

Smokescreened84
Smokescreened84

Video games don't lead to crime and killing, human actions do. Humans kill humans, as a species we've been killing one another for centuries long before video games were created. If someone is born with the imbalance in their brains that drives them to kill and commit crimes and having no way to learn self control over that action, then it's not the fault of the game, it's the person's born inbalance. Self control can be learned, for some it's easy, for other's it's hard work. But video games aren't to blame, they never have been. Placing the blame on what we create is just another way of burying the head in the sand and ignoring the real reasons behind what makes us a violent species.

simon1812
simon1812

well duh!!!! what fun is really to kill in the real world? in the videogames there is no real victim, so there is not punishment.

LoadedTuna
LoadedTuna

@SkamArtist "video games do absolutely nothing" am i the only one who's heard this from their parents ad infintum?

SkamArtist
SkamArtist

Did it ever dawn on anyone that maybe, just maybe both negative and positive research results cancel each other out and that video games do absolutely nothing. Just a thought.

sagelund
sagelund

It does disturb me however when I see the community's reaction to scientific research... most studies show the negative effects of video games, and we lash out at them. When they show positive effects, we welcome them gladly and praise it? Does it maybe show that us gamers are somewhat in denial that our hobby could cause problems down the line, and that we just want to be able to game forever? It does make me wonder.

Drakkengoth
Drakkengoth

Somebody give those researchers a freakin' medal

dalua360
dalua360

@neonblueshadow Petrol (gasoline) contain a substance known as tetraethyl lead (TEL), a compound of lead in liquid form originally added to petrol to increase its octane rating. Lead is very toxic and lead compounds in exhaust gases escape into the atmosphere causing pollution. Impacts on human health are widely documented.

INewIRave
INewIRave

@neonblueshadow ...rednecks?

neonblueshadow
neonblueshadow

"...the elimination of lead in petrol, which was linked to brain damage-induced behavioral problems." .... Really?! how does one get brain damage from the Lead in Petrol, who consumes gasoline!?

AmayaPapaya
AmayaPapaya

No! Video Games can only be bad! Bad I say!! :P

schlagermeister
schlagermeister

As more proof, I have 4 battle rifles in my closet as well as a pistol. I pretty much only play games with war and shooting in them, mixed with the occasional MLB game since I've grown up with baseball. But no, I have never even punched someone in my life (age 24). I've made it through high school and college without ever even getting in a fight. Somehow I'm not a crazed lunatic ready to hit the local streets with guns blazing! Even though I have the resources...

dalua360
dalua360

I'm 29, and I have many guns at home. I love to play the most violent games, if it's non-violent or there's no blood, it's not cool for me! But after I play violent games, I don't go out to shoot people or anything like, I don't go out with my car willing to run over people! And that's simple, it's because I'm a good person. If you give a pistol to a bad guy he will pull the trigger, if you give a knife he will stab you! So, if you give a violent game to a bad person, he/she won't be influenced, because they already have those feelings, it's their nature! If you try to take off the violence from video games because of what the bad people do after they play, then I think we should disappear with all guns, cars, knives, rocks or anything sharp that can hurt or kill! Maybe if we disappear with all the things on Earth, maybe they can't find anything else to kill right?? NO. Video games aren't bad, or guns, or knives. People are bad! Put a gun on the table and ask to the gun to kill.... what will happen?Nothing. So, what need to be done is something with the bad people, not objects or entertainment features

Rovelius
Rovelius

Even kids know games are just games. That's why we love gaming, for the freedom it gives. We all have that killing instinct inside and that's why going on rampages in games like GTA or inFAMOUS is so fun. Games are good at stress relief, too. A lot of kids have bad lifes and choose games instead of drugs...

nerocool996
nerocool996

My dad always said me thai video games will make me aggressive i wish he could read this