Moving beyond discussions of potential linkages between violence and video games, Crime, Punishment, and Video Games examines a broad range of issues related to the representation of crime and deviance within video games and the video game subculture. The context of justice is discussed with respect to traditional criminal justice agencies, but also expanded throughout to include issues related to social justice. The text also presents the potential cultural, social, and economic impact of video games. Considering the significant number of video game players, from casual to competitive players, these issues have become even more salient in recent years. Regardless of whether someone considers themselves a gamer, video games are undoubtedly relevant to modern society, and this text discusses how the shift in gaming has impacted our perceptions of deviance, crime, and justice. The authors explore past, present and future manifestations of these connections, considering how the game industry, policy makers, and researchers can work toward a better understanding of how and why video games are an important area of study for criminologists and sociologists, and how games will present new promises and challenges in the years to come.
Kristine Levan is an associate professor of Criminology in the Department of Culture, Society, and Justice at the University of Idaho. She received her Ph.D. in Criminology from The University of Texas at Dallas. Her primary research interests focus on perceptions of crime and depictions of crime and justice in various forms of media, including video games. Her work has been published in outlets including Games and Culture and Criminology, Criminal Justice, Law, & Society.
Steven Downing received his Ph.D. in Criminology from The University of Texas at Dallas. His research focuses on deviant and criminal subcultures (both off and online), as well as popular media representations of crime by employing mixed qualitative methods and ethnography. He has published numerous journal articles on these topics in journals such as Deviant Behavior and Games and Culture.
Chapter 1: Video Games and Violence
Chapter 2: Crime Typologies in Video Games
Chapter 3: Deviant Role-Playing
Chapter 4: Law Enforcement and Video Games
Chapter 5: Punishment, Prisons, and Jails in Video Games
Chapter 6: Portrayals of Race, Ethnicity, and Crime
Chapter 7: Video Games and Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Sexual Identity
Chapter 8: E-Sports, Gambling, Match-fixing, and Performance Enhancement
Chapter 9: Critical Criminology and Serious Gaming
Levan and Downing provide a nuanced examination of the research on video games and their relationship to crime and criminal justice. Drawing on critical and cultural criminology, the authors problematize the connection between gaming and crime, avoiding the usual moralization, politicization, and stigmatization that lead to unnecessary labeling, moral panics, and overregulation. Intersectionality is prominent in their analysis, highlighting the representation of race, ethnicity, and gender in games, including the overrepresentation of people of color as offenders and the overt sexualization of women. Challenging conventional views and stereotypes, the authors debunk assertions about the causal relationship between games and violence and examine the collaborative and creative benefits of role-playing games. Nonetheless, the authors argue, the sensational depiction of violent crime, the simplistic portrayal of the police as either heroic or corrupt, and the presentation of the prison as a correctional spectacle shape gamers’ misperception of crime, law enforcement, and punishment and contribute to public fears and moral panics. Well written and referenced, this book is an important contribution to criminology and cultural studies collections. Recommended. Undergraduates through faculty.
Crime, Punishment, and Video Games is a must-read for those interested in media, crime, and justice. Levan and Downing offer a critical look at crime and justice in the gaming industry that extends the conversation beyond the traditional video game-violence debate. It is a pivotal piece that is destined to push criminological research into gaming to the next level.
Crime, Punishment, and Video Games fills a long-standing gap in the criminological literature. As a comprehensive resource on the intersection between video games and modern conceptions of crime and justice, Levan and Downing clearly, and eloquently, debunk commonly held misconceptions about the causal relationship between crime and game play. Simultaneously, they offer a balanced and nuanced treatment of how video games depict and inform cultural understandings of police, courts, and corrections. Given the ubiquity of video game play and the centrality of gaming to modern culture, such a book is a welcome addition to the literature on media and crime. A must read for scholars and students alike.
From their earliest days, video games have engaged criminologically relevant topics like crime, deviance, violence, victimization, and the criminal legal system. Games have also been politically controversial—accused of corrupting the youth, driving violence, and engaging in hurtful or hateful representations of historically marginalized groups. Yet, criminology has been slow to take gaming seriously. In Crime, Punishment, and Video Games, Levan and Downing provide a relevant, accessible, and incisive examination of video games spanning the criminological gamut. This book is a Rosetta Stone for the curious criminologist and a must read for noobs and pros alike.