For one thing, games can serve as an outlet for violent tendencies, thus relieving these urges rather than incubating them, according to some research. This raises the possibility that game violence and real violence are substitutes: There is a statistical link between the two because violent people like both of them, but taking away video-game violence would actually increase real violence, because these people would lose an outlet.

If that sounds far-fetched, consider that pornography and rape seem to interact this way. Few would doubt that men obsessed with violent pornography are more likely to rape, or that the Internet facilitates men’s pornographic obsessions. Yet the spread of Internet access was correlated with falling rape rates.

Relatedly, violent video games keep violent people occupied — every minute they spend with a controller in their hands is a minute they don’t spend hurting others. Some researchers claim that violent crime falls on days when a lot of people are in theaters watching violent movies; it’s not hard to imagine something similar happening when violence-prone teens stay at home with Saints Row: The Third rather than going out to run amok.

There is also the fact that games serve as a positive bonding and socialization experience for young males.