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Violent Games Credited With Reducing Crime Levels 209

Posted by Soulskill
from the batman-still-unappreciated dept.
maroberts writes "According to a research paper produced from a collaboration between the University of Texas and the Centre for European Economic Research, violent video games may induce aggressive behavior, but the incapacitation effect outweighs this and produces a genuine reduction in violent crime. This paper was referenced in a BBC news story giving reasons why the US crime rates are falling (at least outside the prisons!)"
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Violent Games Credited With Reducing Crime Levels

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  • in Japan...although it could be due to cultural influences in that case.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RivenAleem (1590553)
      Perhaps, but the remaining sex crimes showed increased instances of tentacle use.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, 2011 @04:40AM (#36539052)

        That's because tentacle monsters are just visitors to japan and come from a far more sexually repressed society. When they get to japan they just go berserk.

        On the other hand, it's well known that permanent resident tentacle monsters in japan are very polite and productive members of society.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Be careful now, this is a very sensitive subject. Please refrain from calling them "tentacle monsters". The preferred nomenclature is "bothria enabled people".

        • by sorak (246725)

          That's because tentacle monsters are just visitors to japan and come from a far more sexually repressed society. When they get to japan they just go berserk.

          On the other hand, it's well known that permanent resident tentacle monsters in japan are very polite and productive members of society.

          But if you ever see a gang of snorks, fscking run!

    • Not just in Japan, actually. Last I've seen, just about anywhere where they could put some numbers on historical access to pornography, it correlates the same way with a reduction in sex crimes.

      I don't think there's all that much cultural about it. A similar effect has been noticed before between splatter movies and violent crimes, for example. When a new one starts in theatres, for the next couple of days you see less less assaults and such. If nothing else, because they're in the theatre instead of on the

      • by mooingyak (720677)

        Not just in Japan, actually. Last I've seen, just about anywhere where they could put some numbers on historical access to pornography, it correlates the same way with a reduction in sex crimes.

        I've run across this as well, though googling for it doesn't quite yield the results I was looking for.

        [some stuff about violent movies correlating with reduced crime rates]. Makes sense for the games too, if you think of it. As I was saying, the correlation was already noticed for movies.

        I'd expect the effect to be stronger with games. With a movie, you can pretend and fantasize it's you doing it, but a game is much more immersive. If you need that kind of outlet, a violent game is about as close as you can get without actually doing it.

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          With a movie, you can pretend and fantasize it's you doing it, but a game is much more immersive. If you need that kind of outlet, a violent game is about as close as you can get without actually doing it.

          There is no connection between real life and game violence. If you "need that kind of outlet" of violence, playing a game isn't going to do it for you. They're not that fucking realistic.

          • by mooingyak (720677)

            There is no connection between real life and game violence. If you "need that kind of outlet" of violence, playing a game isn't going to do it for you. They're not that fucking realistic.

            Do you believe that the crime rate drops are coincidental with video game usage, or that the two are directly related?

            Assuming you believe them to be related (because otherwise there isn't anywhere else for this discussion to go), do you have a theory as to what there is about violent video games that causes a reduction in violent crime?

            • by geekoid (135745)

              Fewer board people walking the streets?

              Games teach people to try and accomplish a task different ways until they accomplish it. The means planning, developing agency, and not being disenfranchised with the culture.

              in short, helps developed focused motivation. That is the key to being successful.

              So, I would suspect that's why; assuming it's accurate. I would like to see more good studies.

              • by mooingyak (720677)

                Fewer board people walking the streets?

                Games teach people to try and accomplish a task different ways until they accomplish it. The means planning, developing agency, and not being disenfranchised with the culture.

                in short, helps developed focused motivation. That is the key to being successful.

                The study AFAIK is about the effects of violent games specifically, rather than just video games in general. What you've said applies to almost any kind of video game worth playing.

          • Nobody said they're identical, but there is plenty of evidence that people do connect to people in a movie or game in ways that aren't that clearly cut. E.g., seeing some people talking in a movie has been shown to make people less lonely.

            You could equally postulate that there is no connection between seeing people in a movie and talking to people IRL, but for the hierarchy of needs the former seems to be enough. The brain can get a need or urge satisfied by just watching other people on a screen.

            IOW, such

            • by X0563511 (793323)

              It's actually pretty damn simple.

              The part of your brain that can recognize that what you are seeing is not really there is at a higher level than those that deal with the effects we are seeing. It's essentially overridden.

          • by X0563511 (793323)

            Your reptilian brain (you know, the part that deals with violence) doesn't care about such things. It's at a lower level. "Realistic" and "Sorta Realistic" are abstractions beyond it's scope.

    • Reducing crime levels should not be the goal. The goal should be to make communities feel safer.

      Mass arrests of petty criminals does not make the community feel safer. Arrests of violent criminals makes the community feel safer.

      Rather than chasing after meaningless numbers which only mean something to politicians and police chiefs, they should actually communicate with the community they are policing to ask them what they need.

      So when you read "reducing crime levels", ask yourself which crimes? Crimes that

      • RTFA (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @07:32AM (#36539760) Journal

        RTFA. Srsly.

        Both TFA's don't just talk about crime levels, they talk explicitly about reducing VIOLENT crime levels. So, yes, it's a good thing, regardless of how you feel about petty crime.

        Besides, I don't think the goal of the police is to worry about people's existential angst. Crime is something that one can objectively measure, while communities' feelings are subjective and unpredictable. You can't say that the police failed to do their job, if some scaremongering politician makes them feel less safe in spite of reduced crime.

        Or to quote Dara O'Briain, who puts it the best: "[i]I give out when people talk about crime going up, but the numbers are definitely down. And if you go, "The numbers are down", they go, "Ahh, but the *fear* of crime is rising." Well, so fucking what? Zombies are at an all-time low level, but the fear of zombies could be incredibly high. It doesn't mean you have to have government policies to deal with the fear of zombies.[/i]"

        • Because you can reduce hate crimes, that can be objectively measured right?

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          A little tip: for italics it's <i> give out when people talk about crime going up, but the numbers are definitely down. And if you go, "The numbers are down", they go, "Ahh, but the *fear* of crime is rising." Well, so fucking what? Zombies are at an all-time low level, but the fear of zombies could be incredibly high. It doesn't mean you have to have government policies to deal with the fear of zombies</i>

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Reducing crime levels should not be the goal. The goal should be to make communities feel safer.

        Yet it seems that they're constantly trying to make us feel less safe, getting us terrified of "dangers" that really are insignifigant, like brain cancer from cell phones (what a joke) and terrorists.

        And "petty" non-violent crimes aren't so petty when you're the victim. My house was burglarized last year, let me tell you that's worse than being punched in the face. [slashdot.org]

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Community involvement needs to be tempered by experts. Sometimes they need to be told to shut the fuck up.

        Sorry, I just watch community involvement cost millions because the 'community' are emotional tied to a belief. Ignoring facts and data that don't support their belief.

        If you lower the incidents of violent crimes, then the community is safer. If you remove petty crimes, the community is safer. You use community outreach to let the community know crime is down, the community feels safer.

        Crime statistic m

  • Maybe they should have Computers in the prisons, like they do in china. [thestar.com] Exchange Virtual Gold for cigarettes ...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, 2011 @04:33AM (#36539016)

    Correlation does not equal causation.

    Just because we like the results, doesn't make it true.

    • In this case, I'd say there's a strong possibility that it is true, though. There's even a word for why: catharsis. In caveman days, somebody pissed a guy off, he'd go beat the crap out of that person. Testosterone is a fight or flight hormone. Can't really do that today. Beating the crap out of pixels achieves the same release for him. It's the same as taking a weapon to a range and unloading into a target, or going to a gym/dojo and sparring, only less exercise.

      At least that's how I would explain it. Whet

      • by azalin (67640)

        Testosterone is a fight or flight hormone.

        Adrenalin is one, Testosterone is not. It makes hairy balls and sweaty thoughts. It also stays active your whole life and only the level varies.
        High levels do increase aggressive behavior though. Still no fight and flight hormone, sorry.

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @06:58AM (#36539614)

      There could be a lot more extra factors.

      1. Birth Control is far more commonly used now then in the previous generation. Perhaps there are less unwanted kids and more planned children who are better cared for so they don't become criminals.

      2. Revival in religion. Yea I know this is Slashdot and a lot of the readers here are Atheists or against religion in one form or an other, but there has been a resurgence in religious people. Which teaches at least to stop people from doing unorganized violence.

      3. Greater tolerance. Towards People of difference races, religions, and sexual preferences. I am not saying it is perfect but it is getting better.

      4. Improved conditions for the poor. Sure the gap between the rich and the poor is growing however the poor now have a better standard of life then they did in the past.

      5. Internet, A wealth of stuff to keep you pacified for long periods of time.

      6. Stranger Danger. We as a culture has grew up in fear of everyone outside your house, there is a lot less talking and gossiping with neighbors, thus less violence as everyone is so afraid of everyone else that they will dare not to do anything to shake the cage.

      7. Aging population. A good part of the population is getting too old to beat the crap out of each other.

      8. 9/11 changed everything. Knowing or at least reconfirming that there are "outsiders" who are after us keep us united.

      9. Gang awareness and prevention programs, including suburban towns.

      10. To many camera, Every (well nearly every) one has a phone with a camera, any crime can have someone taking a picture or a hd movie of it.

      • by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@gd a r g a ud.net> on Thursday June 23, 2011 @08:45AM (#36540222) Homepage

        1. Birth Control is far more commonly used now then in the previous generation. Perhaps there are less unwanted kids and more planned children who are better cared for so they don't become criminals.

        Actually access to abortion, not just birth control, has been singled out _in the US_ as the main cause (and not just correlation) in the drop of violence in the last 20 or so years. The causation has been determined thanks to the delay between access to abortion in a community and the time it takes for the unwanted kids to grow up into criminals. Choice quote: "Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime". More [wikimedia.org]

      • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @08:57AM (#36540312) Homepage

        2. Revival in religion. Yea I know this is Slashdot and a lot of the readers here are Atheists or against religion in one form or an other, but there has been a resurgence in religious people. Which teaches at least to stop people from doing unorganized violence.

        Unfortunately, there's at least one study that strongly suggests that atheists are less likely to commit crime than religious adherents [creighton.edu].

        4. Improved conditions for the poor. Sure the gap between the rich and the poor is growing however the poor now have a better standard of life then they did in the past.

        The poor in the US have an income that's basically identical in real dollars to the income of the poor in 1970. For instance, this graph [wikipedia.org] from data from the US census.

        • I didn't say that atheists committed more crimes. The problem are the average joe who isn't an atheist but isn't overly religious. Often the process to become an atheist is much like discerning to join a religion, you need to make a choice to say you believe in what you do. Vs. a lot of people who never made the choice they just never thought about it much.

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        I'm sure all of those things have a huge effect on weekly changes in crime rates.

        Yes Bob, I saw is on the internet it must be true. jellomizer says that crime went down last month because of easier access to birth control and changes because more people got religion. It went up this month because people got younger and they must have removed some cameras.

        And 9/11 matters so much when you are considering crime changes on a 2005-20009 time frame.

        Seriously are you retarded?

      • by bug1 (96678)

        2. Revival in religion. Yea I know this is Slashdot and a lot of the readers here are Atheists or against religion in one form or an other, but there has been a resurgence in religious people. Which teaches at least to stop people from doing unorganized violence.

        Yea, the organized violence isnt too bad, its the unorganized stuff thats BAD. Oh man, especially when you see an unorganized person doing unorganized violence, with their scruffy appearance, bringing the wrong weapons, its just soo unprofessional,

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Birth Control is far more commonly used now then in the previous generation.

        Citation needed. This ties into the next one:

        Revival in religion. Yea I know this is Slashdot and a lot of the readers here are Atheists or against religion in one form or an other, but there has been a resurgence in religious people.

        That must have been very uncomfortable for them. When I get a resurgence I take papaya enzyme. Citation needed; also, Catholicism is one of the few religions still on the rise; as the developed world is now rejecting Catholicism over being a branch of NAMBLA this is pretty much restricted to impoverished brown people. Catholics are not known for using birth control; quite the opposite. Ditto for Mexicans — you may be getting that uncomfortable feeling right

      • by mcgrew (92797) *
        1. It isn't "unwanted children" that turn out to be criminals, it's the children of criminals that turn out to be criminals. "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
        2. I think you have cause and effect reversed. Violent people and criminals don't normally attend church.
        3. What does intolerance have to do with crime? One doesn't rob someone because he hates the other's race, he does it for the money.
        4. I've seen no evidence of this in the US, and in fact it's the opposite here. We treat the poor like shit.
        5. I know poo
        • I guess this kid's parents must be some sort of criminals too. http://thechronicleherald.ca/Sports/1249448.html [thechronicleherald.ca]
          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Of course there are going to be kids who rise up above their upbringing, and decent respectable people whose kid winds up in prison. But usually if your dad's a mugger, you're not going to see anything wrong with mugging people. If your dad beats the hell out of you daily you're going to grow up to be a violent man.

            As to the link, nobody's perfect. Looks to me like the kid just made an incredibly stupid mistake that he's terribly sorry for. If he had bad parents his response would have been more like "fuck

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        2. Revival in religion. Yea I know this is Slashdot and a lot of the readers here are Atheists or against religion in one form or an other, but there has been a resurgence in religious people. Which teaches at least to stop people from doing unorganized violence.

        Let me get this straight, you're talking about our good religion, and not their bad religion, right? Because all religions aren't equal, at least according to the religious people themselves.

    • by Cloud K (125581)

      This.

      I get annoyed when people use, shall we say, "creative interpretation" to claim that video games cause violence... whilst it's nice to balance it out with the opposite, it'd be kind of hypocritical to support this method of jumping to conclusions just because it's suddenly in our favour.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Yes, but look at the study.

      It's certainly strong enough to warrant more studies.

      A game teaches a lot of things.
      The ability to change different tactics to accomplish a goal. The ability to continue on after a major problem occurs, the feeling of control(agency) .

      It talks about those thing regarding education, but those very same thing will help people feel like a contributor, instead of a disenfranchised person. Feeling no control, not knowing how to figure out your options, as some of the biggest reasons fo

  • by Senes (928228) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @04:35AM (#36539026)
    They develop violent feelings but they take it all out on their fictional characters. They stop going outside (thousands of years of children spent their days outside because they lacked TV and vidya) so they aren't around other people even if they have all kinds of aggressive hormones flowing to compel them to pick a fight with the next person they see.
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      They develop violent feelings but they take it all out on their fictional characters. They stop going outside (thousands of years of children spent their days outside because they lacked TV and vidya) so they aren't around other people even if they have all kinds of aggressive hormones flowing to compel them to pick a fight with the next person they see.

      I'm not sure I like this line of the argumentation. To me it's very much like saying: "Drugs actually reduce the crime rate: most of the time a junkie is stoned, so he doesn't have time to do it". (not that I equate violent games with drugs, neither I'm convinced that playing violent games increase the agresiveness in real-life).

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      They develop violent feelings but they take it all out on their fictional characters. They stop going outside (thousands of years of children spent their days outside because they lacked TV and vidya) so they aren't around other people even if they have all kinds of aggressive hormones flowing to compel them to pick a fight with the next person they see.

      Where I live the children get plenty of outside time at school, although granted there's probably a bit less total outside play/fight time in the evenings or at weekends/holidays than when I was young.

    • This is common knowledge to gamers or those who know them. I'm no psychologist, but to me, the fact that gamers would rather sit in front of a screen for the majority of their waking existence, and that they focus all their energies towards the game on the screen, tells me that they are a population that is much less likely to commit any sort of crime, let alone violent crime.
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @04:56AM (#36539104) Homepage Journal

    As usual the politicians are proven wrong and backwards with their attempts at 'curbing violence' by fighting this battle against the imaginary violence in games.

    As usual, it is shown that whatever politicians wanted to do was going to have the exact opposite effect, so when they fight imaginary violence in video-games, they would be causing more of the real violence in real world, because now it is shown that violent videogames reduce violence in real world.

    Whenever you are in doubt about what the outcome of any law, any bill is going to be in real life, just take the name of that bill and reverse it in terms of its intentions.

    So if they want to 'fight poverty', it means they'll create more poverty. If they want to 'fight violence', they will end up creating more violence, etc.

    • Also as usual (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A group swallows research that favors its view whole without questioning while disregarding any research that disagrees with its world view.

      My my, did you even read the article or just went "I like this headline, therefor I will accept it as being true".

      Don't blame your opponents for swallowing their headlines if you do the same.

    • If they were trying to curb violence there would be a war on violence rather than a war on drugs. There are plenty of murderers who get away with it, there is plenty of violence in society. But when you see most cops do you see them investigating homicides?

    • I agree with your sentiments but I feel your analysis is a bit too "black and white".
  • by mauhiz (1751522)

    Caesar had it all right, with the violent circus games.
    We can now achieve this catharsis without spilling blood, thanks to video games!

  • Clockwork Orange (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It sounds like Clockwork Orange psychology.

    You are not violent if you are vomiting all the time so you cannot fight back.

  • by geekmux (1040042) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @09:13AM (#36540460)

    Of COURSE there has been a reduction in violent crime in the last few years, and it's rather obvious why. Seems someone forgot to take into account the change in the crime "landscape" that the internet brings to the table. Violent games is unlikely the only factor here, or even the main one.

    Who the hell robs a gas station or liquor store anymore when you can sit at home and search for credit card numbers and CVV2 codes with Google? Like credit card companies actually dedicate real time and effort investigating credit card theft? Please. They wipe your bill clean, issue a new credit card, and write off the loss, and the thief hardly lifted their hands off a keyboard.

    Who the hell steals CDs from a music store anymore when you can torrent the music in less time that it takes to put your shoes on to go rob said music store?

    Bitcoin mining? Another shining example of how "theft" has changed from armed robbery to mouse clicks and CPU cycles.

    On top of all that, never underestimate the power of pure laziness. We have an entire up-and-coming generation unfortunately "representing" that.

    • Who the hell robs a gas station or liquor store anymore when you can sit at home and search for credit card numbers aqnd CVV2 codes with Google? Like credit card companies actually dedicate real time and effort investigating credit card theft? Please. They wipe your bill clean, issue a new credit card, and write off the loss, and the thief hardly lifted their hands off a keyboard.

      Had to stop reading here as this paragraph indicates you're just spraying opinion about without actually being aware of facts. If you were to become aware of even the amount of losses caused by fraud you'd realize that ignoring the issue isn't even close to a viable option. And that's something you could find ith just a minute of quick searching. Imagine how much you could improve your knowledge and postings if you actually made the effort to understand the subjects you speak about.

      • by geekmux (1040042)

        Who the hell robs a gas station or liquor store anymore when you can sit at home and search for credit card numbers aqnd CVV2 codes with Google? Like credit card companies actually dedicate real time and effort investigating credit card theft? Please. They wipe your bill clean, issue a new credit card, and write off the loss, and the thief hardly lifted their hands off a keyboard.

        Had to stop reading here as this paragraph indicates you're just spraying opinion about without actually being aware of facts. If you were to become aware of even the amount of losses caused by fraud you'd realize that ignoring the issue isn't even close to a viable option. And that's something you could find ith just a minute of quick searching. Imagine how much you could improve your knowledge and postings if you actually made the effort to understand the subjects you speak about.

        Please do not assume that I am completely ignorant of fraud and their desperate attempts at keeping up with the losses. Much like the "small-time" real-world examples I referenced, my statement is accurate in the sense that most financial institutions, or more accurately, city/state/federal organizations do not have the resources available to research and go after every single case of electronic fraud/theft. You know that, and I know that, so zero point in arguing it. That is what insurance is for on man

  • by SoTerrified (660807) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @09:58AM (#36540888)

    Something my grandfather knew and my great-grandfather... Many crimes are crimes of opportunity, usually linked to boredom. There have long been clear statistics that kids who play sports, play an instrument, or have dedication to a hobby are far less likely to be involved in crime. If someone is playing video games... They're not bored, and they're not out finding crimes of opportunity. Keep kids busy and they stay out of trouble.

  • by DutchUncle (826473) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @09:59AM (#36540904)
    I think it was Alan Dean Foster's "Quozl" in which the traveling aliens have ultra-realistic game setups (not quite a holodeck) in which they can hunt and messily kill their prey from back home. Without that opportunity to drain the aggression from their systems, they know they would turn on each other as easily as on outsiders. Cesar Milan, "The Dog Whisperer", often talks about making sure one uses up a pet's energy for similar reasons. Why should anyone be surprised that humans have the same problem - especially humans who aren't satisfied with just sitting and reading /.?
    • by Terwin (412356)

      In Quozl, it was not games specifically, it was all of their art. From still-life to video to a form of social competition that involves martial arts counting coup where you try to almost hit and any actual contact is a shaming loss.
      No doubt due in part to the aliens all experiencing a sort of blood-rage where drawing blood/having blood drawn will send them into a homicidal rage unless they exercise the control to prevent it. (one of the main characters must fight down this rage after being scratched by a

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Why should anyone be surprised that humans have the same problem

      Some people believe humans are clearly separate from and superior to animals and thus not subject to the same instincts and behaviors.

      They are wrong, but they are loud.

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