Halo and Grand Theft Auto don’t create real-life killers-prof

June 20, 2009

A California university professor on Friday said her research confirms what gamers and game makers have long maintained: violent video games don’t lead to a more violent society.

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


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So this is the professors research, She looks at crime stats and says. Crime has gone lower and so these games dont make more people violent. It may not make people want to go out and kill, but it sure does desensitize the young people to violence. Bye the way, would you really believe crime has gone down in this country,? Just because stats say they do. Kind of like the high school, or college that does not report the stats. Kind of like small town politics that want people to believe they’re town or city is safe and dont report crimes in the local papers. Violence has not gone down in this country, anyone that believes we are safer now than in the 70s an 80s are nuts

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

Duh, violent video games don’t cause a violent society, violent video games are made by a violent society.Go Doc.

Posted by nikki | Report as abusive

saying video games makes us more violent is like saying tv,art,music, or friends make us a violent society . the point is simple regardless of what excuse you want to use you are the one that decides that . people need to learn that sometimes bad things happen and about 50% of the time they happen to good people . i really wish people would stop blaming others and look in the mirror!

Posted by Jake | Report as abusive

She said that it measures level of agression not violence iteself? What in the world Was She thinking Violence is a bi-product of agression the only thing missing is the physical action itself…

Posted by Noah Barin | Report as abusive

No matter how violent or perverse a video game might be, it will never be as horrifying or bloody as what happens in the world on a day-to-day basis.We can’t ban a violent world. We can’t ban violent movies or shows that make money. We can’t ban a violent society. Nor can we ‘ban’ those individuals who have an inherent propensity to violence because of substance abuse, mental or social factors.But we *can* ban video games. And this makes us feel like something is being done, while having absolutely no real effect whatsoever.Ban those games if you want, adults. But the average age of videogamers is mid-twenties.And we are smart enough to know that banning violent videogames is just society’s attempt to hide it’s growing failure to solve basic social problems.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

It’s a little more then just looking at stats, but hey if you like to spell “by” as “bye” you would be one to believe that.

Posted by Justin | Report as abusive

@ Don, “but it sure does desensitize the young people to violence” personally I think that’s a good thing. You’ll also be thanking me then aliens take over the earth, and I don my power armor and defeat them.@ Nikki, Right on bro.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

Wonderful, a country that refuses to resort to anything like realistic gun control & accepts continual school & campus shootings preaching to the rest of the world about ‘violence’. Take a look at your own back yard & get real. I concede that the rest of the worls is just as violent as the USA but they at least attmept to limit real guns in society & not succumb to minority pressure groups that argue a ‘constitutional right’ for citizens to carry full automatic military style assult wepaons.PS, I am ex military & also play ‘violent’ FPS games for escapism.

Posted by Simon Errock | Report as abusive

Do you know what makes gamers violent? It’s the idiots that tell gamers video games are violent. And why isn’t Jack Thompson dead yet? I’m sure if video games breed violence and this man is trying to stop them (I thought he got, is it de-barred?) he would first to go down.

Posted by Livett | Report as abusive

Look at all the wars and other ugly things going on since humans came on this planet. There were no violent video games those days, fact is that violence is in our genes and civilisation is only layer thin.

Posted by Daisy | Report as abusive

It’s apparent that some don’t remember the 70’s at all, the lack of security, i.e., the density of the street lamps of the time; rapes went unreported (or unknown); drive DWI and get a slap on the wrist. Those that were sober and actually “remember” how the affected died and the drunks (sorry, it’s now a disease) simply continued to drive while straddled with numerous suspensions; auto-thefts – oh yeah, remember: no Lo-Jacks. I remember some cities that led the way in (pardon) “stats” because they were real then, it took time to compile them because there was no Internet and DOS 3.0 didn’t exist yet; street-cams were futuristic. Today people have a choice to either “be” educated or “be” violent. Guns as well as those that profit from their illegal distributions are merely icons for the criminally inclined. For those that don’t remember: It was guns (not stone-tossing) that (helped) pave the way for what is now the United States. Stop blaming Gun Control!

Posted by Raphael | Report as abusive

The brain is like a computer and we have a lot of conscious control over its programming. Filling it with virtuous and good things leads to higher ways of living. Filling it with garbage leads to lower ways of thinking and living. Even the ancients understood this principle quite well, addressing it in their philosophical and moral treatises.To deny this is to put your head in the sand. Yes, violent media of all types results from a violent perverted society. But then the violent media feeds the society–a vicious circle. Look at the people who sit and *laugh* watching movies like Saw…this is clearly desenitizing and warping minds.

Posted by anonymous | Report as abusive

We should all know that violent games tend to influence, especially the young ones. Figure this out, movies are rated, right? Why are movies rated, you might ask? There tend to be adult movies and that of kids, teens, early children – so also games! This is because they tend to influence and make you act in accord with what you watch and play. when you watch violent movies, you are a spectator. But when you play violent game, you are a participant. Youths who are immense to violent game, see life in different angle – like the a game.

Posted by ND | Report as abusive

saying violent video games cause people to become violent is like saying playing sports video games makes one good at sports. it’s a crock. however i am all for people not being exposed to mass amounts of voilence at any age.Do not blame peoples actions on video games, make them accountable for their actions.Now to all of the people who have decided to add guns into the mix…. limiting who can have guns is a great thing. certain people should never have guns but enforcing that is impossible, look up gun control in Jamaica if you doubt me. Small island with a complete gun ban but a obsene amount of gun related deather, same with china.however creating gun free zones and banning certain types of guns (are you listening california) does nothing other than create feel good legislation and annoy people who legaly can own firearms. It doesn’t stop people who aren’t inclined to even obay the law.

Posted by Ed Tanner | Report as abusive

So what they are saying is me playing sports video games doesn’t make me good at sports….. no suprise there. also nice that this study was not done by Pro/anti gamers as well.I’m all for games being rated and people under a certain age not being exposed to violence and sexual contect but what i want to play/watch is my choice. any actions that i make are my own and I am responsible for, don’t blame what i watch/play.

Posted by Ed | Report as abusive

Ok people the M stands for MATURE on the back of the case of the game…so dont buy it for a 10 year old…DUHH

Posted by FERHAT | Report as abusive

Ok people the big M on the back of the case stands for MATURE, so don’t go buy it for a kid ok? It’s that simple. Plus with all this going on around us video games should least our violence related problems.

Posted by V | Report as abusive

Don, the prof is a sociolgist. She most likely did the collection of raw data to get her stats. I’m sure she didn’t just google them.Noah, the distinction between violence and agression is an important one. Especially since her study showed that increased aggression doesn’t correlate to increased violence.

Posted by Drewbie | Report as abusive

[…] undecidedly dim light on it. It does, however, point out some very interesting references, such as: a 2009 Reuters article citing a California study involving Halo and GTA, an eHow article summarizing some studies, a Harvard study, an article from the Child Development […]

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