We've heard over and over again that video games cause violence by the mainstream media, because it's an easy target and, oh my, there are a lot of violent ones. There are plenty of studies stating the obvious connection between playing an intense first-person shooter and feeling rage for a couple of minutes at a time, and we do hear genuine news stories about people who take that rage out on other people.
But as Scott Cunningham (Baylor University), Benjamin Engelstätter (Centre for European Economic Research), and Michael War (University of Texas) reports in their new study Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime:
There is evidence that violent videogames cause aggression in a laboratory setting, there is no evidence that [games] cause violence or crime [in society].
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. [Such studies] overstate the importance of videogame-induced aggression as a social cost.
In other words, gamers who spend their time playing violent games are not using that same time shooting people in real life. They've got a raid to do or they're too busy Hording to care. If video games truly did induce the majority of its users or even a 0.001% of them (that's still a lot, really) to conduct violent acts, we would see a huge spike of violence in all of the countries where video games have the most influence. This is not the case.