Halo and Grand Theft Auto don’t create real-life killers-prof
The debate has raged for years on whether virtual murder leads to real-life death, with many claiming the realistic graphics and awards for virtual killing in games like Halo and Grand Theft Auto create teenage blood lust.
University of Southern California sociologist Karen Sternheimer said statistics don’t support that argument, since video game sales have shot up as violence has fallen.
U.S. computer and video game software sales quadrupled to $11.7 billion from 1996 to 2008, and more than two-thirds of American households currently play games according to the Entertainment Software Association.
During approximately the same period, violent crime rates in the United States have actually fallen – FBI statistics show juvenile arrests for violent crimes fell 20 percent between 1997 and 2006, and juvenile arrests for homicides fell by a third from the mid-nineties, Sternheimer said.
Sternheimer also said that while the studies that equate bloody games to real life violence are popular, typically they measure aggression, not actual violence.
“They use proxies for violence that don’t exactly translate in the real world,” she said.
A better answer to the cause of violence? The conditions surrounding poverty, she hypothesized.
And no, she said, she doesn’t receive any funding from the gaming industry.
Reporting by Clare Baldwin
Photo by Reuters/Lucas Jackson