In the real world I'm a pacifist. My pagan beliefs mean I abhor violence. I'm a nice person; I adore animals and will do everything in my power to avoid confrontations, I'm polite and respectful and wouldn't harm a fly (well, okay, I would harm a fly but you get the point).
In the gaming world, I'm a mass murderer, assassin and heartless fiend. I regularly slaughter animals and hunt deer in Tamriel, I even killed a unicorn. I will invoke dark deities to do my bidding, summon strange creatures to murder my foes and I'll even cut down my minions just for their enchanted arrows. In Willamette, I've disemboweled zombies and watched hapless humans being eaten alive without batting an eyelid. I take great joy in stalking people through an alien spaceship, watching while they spirit walk or respawn and cutting them down.
While I don't believe games make people more violent (although in the case of people with mental disorders, violent games don't exactly help), in this modern world violence in gaming is being seen as increasing detremental to society. The important part is distinguishing the difference between reality and fantasy. Gaming violence can be fun but that doesn't mean I would ever go out and start cutting someone down with my enchanted sword or aiming arrows at passersby.
A couple of days ago, I was enjoying an Oblivion session and chatting to a friend of mine via Xbox Live when she asked my advice.
"I'm not sure about killing anyone. Do I want to join the Dark Brotherhood?"
"Yes," I said. "It's a lot of fun - you get a minion,"
"But I don't want to kill anyone!" she bleated.
"Oh, you will!" I replied, trying out my Wickedest Witch of the West laugh (for a pagan, I sure can cackle).
Guilt while gaming isn't new. I read an editorial piece in X360 magazine last month where their token female gamer berated her conflict when playing violent games. She actually stopped and debated whether to travel down the game's darker paths and whether she could actually kill an innocent resident of Tamriel so the Dark Brotherhood's Speaker might whisper in her ear.
I had this same inner turmoil, although it lasted all of two seconds. I did however murder a sleeping innocent, so to making it easy on them and fast too. Now I've risen to the ranks of Listener, I can command others to murder and frequently dispatch a minion to some faroff land to answer the pleas of the soon-to-be damned.
The important part is distinction. I see no problem involving in acts of extreme violence and random killings as long as they take place within the gaming environment. Just because I enjoy playing with swords in Tamriel, it doesn't mean I'm going to wander the streets of Exeter looking for some innocent passer-by. So the next time you head to Willamette or Cyrodil, enjoy that killing spree but just remember, what you do in the game might not be a smart thing to do outside in the real world.