Psychological studies of the effects of playing video games have found emotional responses and physical reactions associated with reinforced violent and antisocial attitudes. These markers may be associated with increases in one's preferences for antisocial behaviors or may indicate that one's desire for actual antisocial behaviors are partially sated. I investigate whether video game play and antisocial behaviors are complements or substitutes. The incidences of various reported crimes are 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 find that more game stores are associated with significant declines in crime rates for six of eight categories of crime. Analogous proxies for other youth related leisure activities - sports and movie viewing - do not have a similar effect. Finally, I find that mortality rates, especially mortality rates stemming from injuries, also are negatively related to the number of game stores.
- Michael Ward