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Research Indicates That Violent Video Games Do Not Cause Violent Crime

Although video games continue to be associated with violent crime in the media, some studies have shown that the opposite may be true. If you are concerned about any gaming related problems, follow the links to our various support services or click on the blue logo icon at the bottom right of the screen to start using Cybersmile Assistant, our smart AI support assistant.

Researchers in the U.S. have described a ‘history of moral panic’ causing media reporting of links between violent video games and violent crime. They are concerned that despite a Supreme Court ruling in 2011 which found no evidence to support connections between violent games and crime, media and policy makers are continuing to link the two.

In fact, some studies show the opposite may be true – indicating that when a very popular violent video game comes out, violent crime goes down, not up.

One study, undertaken by the University of Texas, used data from the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) on incidents of violent crime and compared it to weekly sales of violent games over a six-year period. In comparing weekly violent crime figures with weekly sales of violent games, it found that violent crime figures dropped when popular violent games were released.

Researchers described this method as, what criminal justice scholars call, ‘incapacitation’. That is, if a person is engaged in an activity such as work, sports or watching movies, then that person is not engaging in anti-social or criminal activities. They noted that video games seem to be a more stigmatized pastime than playing sports, but the basic mechanism is exactly the same – if you’re busy gaming, you’re not committing crimes.

Researcher and Professor of Psychology at Stetson University in Florida, Christopher J. Ferguson explained how research that shows increased aggression in subjects who were monitored playing violent games did not provide any evidence that this was affecting their behavior in real life any more than movies, music, cartoons or graphic comic books.

“As a researcher who has studied violent video games for almost 15 years, I can state that there is no evidence to support these claims that violent media and real-world violence are connected.”

Professor Christopher J. Ferguson, Stetson University, Florida

Professor Ferguson also highlighted findings from another study which examined co-relations between youth violence and video games over a two-decade period and found that spikes in violent video games’ popularity correlated with substantial declines in youth violence – not increases.

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