My adult enjoyment of violent videogames was always girded by two assumptions. The first is that eliminating or surpassing an obstacle is the basic unit of videogame play. The second is that in popular videogames, these obstacles are almost always representations of living things. Combining these two statements yields the idea that eliminating living things-killing-has been, is, and will be a genetic feature of videogames. If you accept this, you can accept that the pleasures of killing in videogames are formal and iterative rather than sick and twisted. In other words, the fun of many games comes from two things: first, how good or novel or satisfying the killing is relative to all other videogames; and second, how fun or satisfying it is to get better at killing through repetition relative to all other videogames.
As part of our ongoing series on the life of a videogame intern, Joseph Bernstein deals with the discomfort of playing excessively violent videogames: