Have violent games taken crime off US streets...
Alex Winehouse

12:30 22nd June 2011

Crime rates have been falling in the US ever since 1991, and have droppen even more sharply in the last two years - thanks, in part to computer games.

Murder and robbery rates are at their lowest for twenty years, causing the BBC to look into reasons why this has happened - with some surprising results emerging.

The BBC summarises that better police work, combined with a drop in demand for crack cocaine, are the two biggest reasons, but have also highlighted the effects of the "Obama" effect - President Obama's historic inaugauration in 2008 - as well as the fact that gaming is now more popular than ever before.

A study carried out by researchers in Texas last April, working with the Centre for European Economic Research, rejected completely the sterotypical idea that games potentially made people more violent, insisting instead that the pastime helps to keep potential criminals occupied and off the streets.

Titled Understanding the Effects of Violent Videogames on Violent Crime, it claimed that an increased amount of violent game sales over the test period corresponded with a decrease in criminal incidents reported to the police.

The report's basic argument is that whatever anti-social tendencies these games can inspire are always offset by the amount of time it takes gamers to play them.

The report's author, economist Michael Ward, wrote: "We argue that since laboratory experiments have not examined the time use effects of videogames, which incapacitate violent activity by drawing individual gamers into extended gameplay, laboratory studies may be poor predictors of the net effects of violent videogames in society.

"Consequently, they overstate the importance of videogame induced aggression as a social cost."

The greatest football computer games...


  • 10. Microprose Soccer (1988) - Sensible Software's first venture into football games, and a wonderful taster of things to come. The top-down scrolling pitch was small enough to enable you to not get lost, and with sliding tackles, throw-ins and difficult goalkeepers all thrown in, this was perhaps the first great simulation.

  • 9. Football Manager 2 (1988) - Kevin Toms, we salute you! The original Football Manager game was launched in 1982, but its stick figure graphics meant that it was merely a very good game, whereas its second coming, with full-coloured players and stadiums, and Match of the Day-type highlights, made this the first management classic. Even if starting off in the Fourth Division regardless of your team made this game a very, very long slog indeed.

  • 8. Emlyn Hughes International Soccer (1988) - Doing for side-on sims what Microprose did for top-down, Emyln Hughes International Soccer took the football game even further, thanks to the ability to edit team names and, more crucially, that of the players as well. Muveez literally wasted two years of its life playing this game, and it doesn't regret this for a minute.

  • 7. International Superstar Soccer '98 (1998) - Another leap forward in football simulation. For the first time, kits were detailed, and players had numbers on their backs for the first time since Man United Europe in 1990. The pitch at the bottom enabled you to see where all your players were at all times, meaning long hopeful punts down the pitch could be replaced by sweeping through balls up to your striker. Fifa took over a decade to catch up.

  • 6. Fifa International Soccer (1993) - Football games had become strictly a top-down experience by 1993, thanks to the dominance by Sensible Soccer. However, the arrival of Fifa marked the dawning of the 3D simulation. And the goals you could score! Sadly, this was as good as Fifa games could get for a number of years. But still, what a game...

  • 5. Kick Off 2 (1990) - For two years, nothing - be it sports or any other genre - could beat Dino Dini's offering. Different referee personalities, varying pitch conditions, and the ability to swerve the ball like never before all combined to devastating effect. Sadly, Dini could never match Kick Off 2, no matter how hard he tried, but the fact that people still play this game today shows the lasting impact he has had.

  • 4. Fifa 10 (2009) - The year Fifa finally overtook PES. Introducing 360 degree player motion and finally throwing away the problem of being able to score the same goal ad infinitum, Fifa 10 proved that EA were no longer happy to peddle any old rubbish provided they had the Fifa licence. Slightly refined for Fifa 11, PES has yet to catch up.

  • 3. Pro Evolution Soccer 4 (2004) - But when PES ruled, boy did it rule. To be honest, PES 6 was perhaps the ultimate football game, but only on the PS2 - it was somewhat lacking on the XBox 360, which takes it out of the running. But, across all consoles, the fourth version of Konami's game was the best simulation ever made. It felt so real. Through balls were exquisite, the player's balance was all important for getting off accurate shots, and the lobbing graphics were so good that Fifa still hasn't bettered it. PES 5, with it's inability to pull of a tackle without getting booked, marked the beginning of the end of Seabass's dominance.

  • 2. Championship Manager 2 (1995) - The Manager was good, Premier Manager was better, and Football Director II topped them both, but in the world of management sims, there is only one king: CM2. No game like it had ever been seen before, and is still fiendishly addictive after sixteen years. For the first time, all you were required to do was buy players, pick a team, and try to win games. None of that stadium building nonsense. This was a proper sim. Even buying players was more realistic. Make an offer, wait a few days, offer a contract, wait a few days more, sign the player. Previously, it was always done in one go. Immensely detailed, incredibly complex, and yet easy to dive into. It's become huge now, of course, but in terms of sheer, pure, unadulterated joy, CM2 has never, and possibly will never, be beaten.

  • 1. Sensible Soccer (1992) - This was never in any doubt, was it? We end as we started, with Sensible Software supplying the single most brilliant football game of all time. A football game so good, it's later version, the impossibly deep Sensible World of Soccer (where you could literally be any team in the world - Barnet v. Border Security was no longer the stuff of dreams) is considered one of the finest computer games in any genre ever. And yet it's so unbelievably, ridiculously easy. Eight directions, one button. That's it. No feints, no tricks, just the joy of football diluted to its most simple and beautiful aspects. Dig out your Amiga, buy it on XBox Live, forget all about Fifa and Pro Evo - After nearly twenty years, Sensible Soccer stands as the finest football game we have ever seen.

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