Ahhhh violence. What a beautiful thing! It's the thing we as humans find most eye catching and entertaining. Every time a fight breaks out in a school or bar, we immediately run to the location the tussle is taking place and cheer. We always root for brutality in these situations because it's something we as humans don't see very often. It's exciting because we don't know the true horror. All we know is the silly, vapid version of violence we see in movies and games.
It's kind of an adrenaline rush, isn't it, Seeing something truly extreme?
For example, let's take my high school. I am a senior (thank god almighty) and I've seen my fair share of fights in the halls and cafeterias of my rural high school. Rednecks are always wanting to pick fights with each other, and girls are feral beings when someone tries and takes their man. It just gets crazy twisted up in high school. Most of these fights mostly result in some pushing and then a teacher yelling "STOP!" and the entire thing disperses. It never gets REALLY serious. However, there was one lunch period that left us all a little scarred.
This kid wanted to get in school suspension so he picked a fight with this one guy. He really messed with the wrong guy. The stupid kid punches the tough guy a bunch and then the tough guy responds by slamming his head on the corner of the lunch table.
Over and over and over again.
There's blood everywhere, and the kid runs to the nurse's office, getting blood all over the floor. His face is all messed up, and the tough guy gets arrested. The students did not cheer that time. It was absolutely shocking to see so much blood come from a fellow classmate. The kid turned out ok, but it really bothered a bunch of the students at my school.
So what does this all have to do with videogames?
A lot, actually.
What kind of video games sell the most? The huge violent blockbuster shoot-em-up games. Games that let you just escape the world you inhabit and wreak havoc on a small polygonal world online with friends around the world. The key word there is 'escape'. Violence in video games is not something to be taken to heart at all, it's merely an exaggeration to please the consumer. Take that same consumer to Afghanistan and give him an M-16, he's a little hesitant to do some damage. It's a lot like the stuff you'd see in cartoons like Tom and Jerry. In Tom and Jerry, you'd see a cat with it's face flattened by a frying pan or thrown off a building. You didn't see any kids in the 50's mutilating their animals, did you?
I really don't think videogames are as influential into how a person acts as congressmen and southern baptist parents insist it is. It's just like any other medium of entertainment. All the violence contributes to is some eye catching entertainment. A bit of a visual aide to show players that what they're doing has some real affect on other things in the environment of the game. The only things videogames will really be shaping in young people are, at most, the things they will be more interested in as older people. Just like Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time got me into all the crazy games, movies, and comics I am absorbed in now as a 17-year-old teenager.
The people that do play violent games and respond with violence and hurt those around them already had way more serious problems, in my opinion. To play a game like God of War or Bioshock Infinite and respond to the entertainment those games provide by ruining other lives and killing is way more a testament to the parenting or social environment of the individual than it is a testament to how videogames and movies ruin the mental frames of our youth.
Violence in videogames are merely superficial to me. I don't really care whether or not a game throws gallons of virtual blood in my face as long as the story or gameplay is awesome. While I do think that young children should wait until at least like 12 to play the super violent stuff, I don't really think it affects them on a mental level.
People should remember that videogames are a form of entertainment and while they can shape interests of individuals, they certainly can't take someone's psyche and throw it to the dogs. Entertainment just doesn't have that power over anyone.