I've played many games but no innocent plastic tokens have starved, no cardboard orphans have been left behind to starve, and no lead widows have lamented love brutally taken from them. Playing games does not trivialize oppression, bigotry, and hypocrisy or promote war any more than reading a book on history does or when children play in the backyard. When people play the act of play serves as a mechanism to deal with such difficult issues as crime, and violence.
When we play violent games we aren’t just getting it out of our system, or fueling our need for mayhem with pretend mayhem we are setting play as an example of the role of violence in our lives. The very fact so many of us are able to deal with imaginary play violence instead of physical actual violence is a wonderful thing. Simulated violence in play is moving violence outside and beyond other parts of life it’s often showing it as an undesirable means of conflict definition and resolution outside the confines of the game.
I’m not a violent criminal because I don’t want to inflict harm on others through violence and loss of property and I think such folk are awful in reality but in fiction and recreation focusing on the deeds and activities of a violent criminal can be interesting because of the differences they present between my comfortable reality and the world they live in.
I’ve gotten into martial arts, recreational combat sports, and running round the woods wearing pointy ears hitting others with padded sticks for the sport of it not as a release valve for the violence. For me fake fighting hit a sweat spot for athletics,physical development, and preparing for the unlikely. My self defense advice is “if no one else will be harmed, run away”. Those few times someone has been hurt by accident just aren’t fun as inflicting harm isn’t the goal.
The world is 99% boredom and 1% excitement (according to my aging father), we are fortunate people in fortunate circumstances that some of that excitement is pretend violence against pretend foes and not despicable people for pretending to be part of the awfulness very few people would ever want to be part of.