there's a real way in which it's an almost purely historical phenomenon - video games were made by people with computers, maths nerds and physics nerds who made games about swords&sorcery, and about warfare
but beyond that, it's a mechanism that slots so neatly into all the criteria that good game mechanics require. if we want to replace violence as a mechanical theme, in all its forms, we have to seriously look at why it's endured so well
it creates clear stakes. it creates all-or-nothing outcomes when needed, reducing the frustration of needing to load a save from ages ago to fix a mistake. it lets designers easily tune how much your resources are drained by challenges.
it's universally legible in a way that, say, your crops failing due to over-fertilizing, or your plane losing speed due to incorrect flap/slat config aren't - not that there isn't a market for super noodly technical games, but it's smaller.
even games like *Stardew Valley*, which absolutely could have simply said "no weapons, no violence," choose to embed harm and killing - why? we can't be flippant if we want to understand why it's so embedded in the DNA of gaming.
and i don't meant to act like i'm the authority on this - I'm not, there's lots of good stuff written about this. but my experience is that people often go "violence in video games bad," and not just from the stereotypical direction
it's not just old people who "don't get it" - the young and esp. queer game design crowd often has an anti-violence aesthetic, and that's _awesome_. but i want to understand why we go back to it so easily. what is so attractive about hitting shit?
addendum: some video games use violence to make a specific political point about violence. EXTREME MEATPUNKS FOREVER is a good example of this; part of its ethic is _specifically_ to show that violence against violent oppressors is _good_.
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