Do games cause crime? Errr, no

The great debate of our favorite industry — do videogames cause violence? Usually the star of this debate (or at least the one that loves the camera the most) is Jack Thompson. Today though we have news from the University of Essex, England, where Patrick Kierkegaard has some good news for us gamers.

In an article published in the International Journal of Liability and Scientific Inquiry, Kierkegaard argues that videogames are largely harmless and may in fact lower aggression. “Violent crime, particularly among the young, has decreased dramatically since the early 1990s, while video games have steadily increased in popularity and use. With millions of sales of violent games, the world should be seeing an epidemic of violence,” he says, “Instead, violence has declined.”

Kierkegaard goes on about his studies of older videogame = violence research. He found that some previous work and papers published were heavily biased against videogames to begin with. So read these studies with a grain of salt and, like a political ad on TV, pay attention to who the sponsors are.

According to Kierkegaard, research is inconclusive and some types of videogames could possibly affect emotions, views and behavior thus contributing to violent behavior in people that already have a predisposition to violence. This can be said of any modern media like movies, music, books and magazines.

Tiga, the national trade association that represents games developers in the UK and in Europe, called the report “an important contribution to the debate on videogames and violence.” Maybe it is, but what the industry really needs is thorough statistics hard research/lab studies. Does anyone know how to teach a lab rat to play GTA IV?