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Patents and Antitrust: Video Games and Violent Crime

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Abstract

Psychology studies of the effects of playing video games have found emotional responses and physical reactions associated with reinforced violent and anti-social attitudes. It is not clear, however, whether these markers are associated with increases in one's preferences for anti-social behaviors or whether virtual behaviors act to partially sate one's desire for actual antisocial behaviors. Violent or criminal behaviors in the virtual world and in the physical world could plausibly be either complements or substitutes. A finding of one versus the other would have diametrically opposing policy implications. I study the incidence of criminal activity as related to a proxy for increased gaming, the number of game stores, from a panel of US counties from 1994 to 2004. With fixed county and year effects, I can examine if changes relative increases in gaming in an area are associated with relative increases or decreases in criminal activity. For six of eight categories of crime, more game stores are associated with significant declines in crime rates. Proxies for other leisure activities, sports and movie viewing, do not have a similar effect. For confirmation, I also find that mortality rates, especially mortality rates stemming from injuries, also are negatively related to the number of game stores.

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  • Michael R. Ward, 2007. "Patents and Antitrust: Video Games and Violent Crime," Working Papers 07-18, NET Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:0718
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gordon Dahl & Stefano DellaVigna, 2009. "Does Movie Violence Increase Violent Crime?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 677-734.
    2. James E. Prieger & Wei-Min Hu, 2006. "An Empirical Analysis of Indirect Network Effects in the Home Video Game Market," Working Papers 06-25, NET Institute, revised Oct 2006.
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    Keywords

    Video Games; Violence; Crime;

    JEL classification:

    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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