Why are some of the best video games so violent?

Before You Post: This post is about violence in video games and not why the Sandy Hook killer did what he did. This isn't a thread saying we should ban all violent video games. This isn't a thread stating that violent video games make people do violent things. This is a thread that is here to discuss why video games we love are so violent and what we can do to promote AAA games that aren't all about shooting and taking down enemies in gratuitous ways.

I must be honest with my fellow Polynauts. The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary has entered my conscience in a way that no other violent rampage, not even war, ever has before. I have prided myself on playing and beating almost every single first-person shooter on the Xbox 360. I have even powered through the abysmal titles like Darkest of Days and Legendary. In the realm of third-person shooters I have mostly been driven to play Gears of War, but gamer score for the lesser-palatable inversion finds itself on my list.

I love open-world games like Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption, Saints Row: The Third, Assassin's Creed, and am currently living it up on the Rook Islands in Far Cry 3. Still, as I watch my character slice, dice, shoot, and loot his (or her) way through so many games I find myself concerned, and ready to not play Call of Duty or Halo ever again. Even Assassin's Creed and God of War which employ little to no firearms are incredibly violent.

Why is it that many of the AAA, highly lauded video games we enjoy so violent? What can be done to see developers like Naughty Dog or Rockstar create some games that don't make shooting and killing the focal-point of the game play?

Yes, even Mario has to pounce the Goomba and "kill" it, but no one would ever consider New Super Mario Brothers U to be a violent title. Ratchet and Clank shoot up the robots in their world, but there isn't blood splatter or grotesque take-downs. Mega Man silences his foes with a "gun", yet I don't feel the game is violent. Portal 2 is one of the best games of this generation. You wield a "gun", yet never kill. You solve puzzles.

I want to see myself playing, enjoying, and promoting games that are not as violent nor grotesque in their depiction of beating up the bad guys this coming year.

With all of that said I pose to the Polygon community two serious questions. Would love it if the staff would add their two cents.

1. Why is it that most AAA video games are very violent? (Assassin's Creed, Gears of War, Halo, Call of Duty, God of War, et cetera.)

2. What can we do to see AAA games be made/promoted that are not so violent?

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