For too many years, the public perception of violent crime has been viewed through the warped lens of media representations and reporting of mass killings, the likes of Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland, while ignoring the body counts that rack up year after year in America's own cities. Many pundits and politicians declare cultural decay and glorification of violence in video games as the main reason for mass shootings. However, these same voices fail to take the explanation any further to explain the eruptions of violence that rack up thousands of lives a year in large metropolitan areas. The question then is a simple one. If violent video games are responsible for the recent upticks in mass public violence, then it should it not also be true that violent video games have some causal connection to everyday violent crime? This study aims to answer this question and then some. Using the 100 most populous cities as sample, traditional criminological explanations for violent crime, such as poverty, income inequality, population density, segregation, divorce, and the contexts of our racialized past, will be compared to simple measures of video games prevalence, such as sales figures and surveys that detail video game preferences, in explaining homicide and aggravated assault rates in the cities over a five-year period. Using OLS regression analyses, the results suggest that video games, when taken by themselves, have a negative relationship with both homicide and aggravated assault rates, meaning that the more video games sold in any given city, violent crime is lower. However, when taken together with the traditional explanations of violent crime in the same model, video game related sales and public sentiments fall short of significance when compared to variables like poverty and historical racial segregation.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Segal, Matthew, "Pixelated Scapegoat: False Connections Between Video Games and Violent Crime in America's Largest Cities" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 287.