Study Says Video Games Increase Aggression But Reduce Crime Rates

by Matt Helgeson on Aug 23, 2011 at 08:05 AM

Adding a new wrinkle to the debate of video games and their effect on violence, a recently published study says that video games actually help reduce crime rates by keeping criminals busy playing games instead of committing crimes.

The research was conducted by the Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim in partnership with Baylor University and the University of Texas at Arlington. The results are interesting in that the findings support the long-held view that video games produce an increase in aggressive behavior. However, the study also found that time spent game playing also decreases criminal activity in players.

While these findings seem to be contradictory, the researchers have a common sense explanation:

"Due to these findings political decision-makers regard playing violent video games as a contributing factor to aggressive behaviour of teenagers and young adults. Therefore, regulating and even prohibiting violent content in video games is frequently considered a possibility. The findings linking gameplay to an increase in aggression are mainly based on psychological laboratory experiments. However, these experiments do neither consider the intense usage of these games by relatively violence-prone people nor the resulting time use effect. This incapacitation effect prevents gamers from engaging in other violent activities during the time spent playing video games."

The long periods of time used to play video games precludes that same time being used to commit crimes. The researchers found that this time use effect is greater than the effect of the increased aggression caused by playing violent games.

Basically, games might make you more prone to commit crimes, but you'll be so busy playing games you won't have any time to commit crimes. I guess that works out.

[Source: GamePolitics]