Not long ago, I purchased Halo: Reach, and came home to gun down some virtual aliens, much to my enjoyment.
Roughly two months after that, I, like about 5.6 million others, went out and bought Call of Duty: Black Ops. Coming home, I booted the game up, and in no time computer-people were going down in high-def pools of blood.
It will probably not be long before I go out and buy another game, maybe a shooter, perhaps a beat-’em-up, where I can in some way fight or kill my enemies.
I’m sure Jack Thompson would agree with me when I say an awful lot of games see the player engaging in physical conflict, why aren’t there more games about being say, a lawyer? Like how about a game where you play as an attorney who gets on talk-shows and presents questionable evidence for why video games are planting seeds of evil in kid’s brains?
But I’m getting side-tracked here, there is a reason why so many video games feature violence, and it’s not because gamers are psychopaths with murder-fantasies:
Think about the nature of a “game”. Not necessarily a video-game, just any sort of competition. You can “win” and “lose”, succeed and fail.
The most direct way of translating a loss to a fictional game world is, in most cases, death: Master Chief kills the aliens, aliens lose, Master Chief wins.
Oftentimes, killing the enemies might not be the actual goal the game sets for you, just as dribbling the ball from opposing players is not directly what causes you to win a soccer match.
Even though Master Chief might have been tasked with, say, “disabling the shield generator”, he will probably not be able to without taking out the Covenant in his way.
Killable enemies are not in video games because the people who play them want a substitute for taking a life in reality, they are there as obstacles in the way of a goal. That goal might even be exclusively achievable by killing enemies, but the rule holds true nonetheless, it’s still player vs. obstacles.
When I play an FPS and feel satisfaction from killing my enemies, I feel that satisfaction because I know it means I am one step closer to what the game has convinced me to be “winning”, something today’s games do using increasingly elaborate means, with their stories penned by New York Times Bestselling AuthorsTM and their Hans Zimmer-musical scores.
Video games don’t tap into some mysterious part of brain tissue that has been left untouched since before their invention, humans have always wanted to be intrigued, excited and fascinated, and video games, like other games that man has entertained himself with throughout history, allow more or less instant access to this.