This post went up late, I know. But I haven't figured out yet how to have two posts for a single comic. I'm working on it.
A conversation that seems to be had a lot is whether or not game publishers should be allowed to create games in which your simulated self commit acts of unspeakable violence against other simulacrums. The prevailing thought on the "No" side seems to be that simulations of violence can increase the incidence of real violence, or at least desensitize someone to it.
I think this, in a word, is an idiotic stance that ignores a great deal about the human condition.
Youth culture is now, and has always been, under attack by people who want to sell newspapers. For this generation, the things that people are told to be afraid of are video games. Before that, it was punk rock. Before that, it was violence in film (this has been usurped by foul language and sex in films; graphic violence no longer breaks the PG-13 barrier). Before that, it was racy books. There may have been a point in our history in which pushing a hoop down a dirt road with a stick was considered morally offensive.
I can't say. I'm not an historian.
The larger point is that playing an FPS like Halo is no different than playing a game of paintball; we've simply digitized the entire experience. Since our brains are essentially simulation machines anyway, it makes no difference to it which one we're doing. It's just that it's much easier to get together in an XBox Live party to play Left 4 Dead than to plan for a weekend of paintball in the woods.
There are also, by a magnitude, fewer zombies involved in paintball.