I've been thinking about the high number of videogames lately that use combat as their main theme and/or gameplay mechanic and although violence and combat is something that our modern culture is obsessed with I think that this topic is more interesting when it comes to video games.
The first interesting thing is that, compared to other media, video games require interaction from the given audience. This interaction has to be compelling and interesting enough due to the fact that videogames have nowadays an average length of around 8 hours (speaking fo retail games here) and the player will have to perform aforementioned interactions over the course of the entire game.
The second thing that is only required in videogames is a clear win-condition. Basically all you at the beginning of a game are your starting values, a set of valid operators (actions you can perform in the game) and a desired solution. From then on all you do is manipulate the given values using your operators to be closer to the values presented in the desired solution.
So what has this to do with combat and violence? Combat defines the clearest win-/lose-condition of all actions. You win by damaging your opponent until he/she is no longer able to fight back. You lose by not being able to fight anymore. This can be easily expressed in math X amount of health points for both sides and a set of attacks or moves dealing Y amount of damage. This makes combat pretty easy to implement as a gameplay mechanic but doesn't explain why you actually should or why it would be an action interesting enough for the player to perform for 8 hours. And this, THIS is the actual reason why there is so much of this stuff in video games.
Peace is an unnatural state for humans, because it means that everybody is completely happy with the status quo. This can and will never be because we as individuals always tend to want more than we have. We want to improve our situation. We want to optimize. But as you might have noticed, conflicts are solved differently nowadays. They're getting solved with contracts, via agreements etc. and although this is the more civilized and intelligent approach I believe that a part of us as human beings misses the physical confrontation with others. Fighting others means competing with them, it means testing who is fitter (in the Darwin kind of way) and although we compete with other humans via other things today (jobs, popularity, money, relationships etc.) the 'cave men' part of us is still there. And competing with others by bashing each others skull in with a blunt object is what we have done for the larger part of our existence as a species.
So there you have it my theory why fighting is such a common mechanic and theme in video games. It gives the 'cave men' part of ourselves a compelling action and presents a logical optimization problem with a clear win condition to our brain.
I never trade in my games. I just don't have the need to get the little extra money you get when you do that. Besides, you get so much less money for what you paid for regardless of how it's condition.
Valid point but A) most games nowadays have either very little replay value or won't be replayed anyway due to the packed release schedule and B) I hate it when I have things that I don't need aynomre but could sell for a somewhat decent price lying around my house ... makes me feel stupid.
Another point that irks me that people keep saying it's ruining the gaming industry. No it's not. What's ruining gaming industry is publishers and suits who understand nothing of gaming and to them we are all just walking wallets for them squeeze. Or PR people who keep getting their hands into the developers plate and telling them to change the game. What about publishers who keep practicing shady DLC businesses so they can get the extra $5-$10 out of the consumer and micro charge a game to death. What about publishers who keep pumping franchises year after year. What about publishers who still overcharge for games, go look at the prices for the older CoD games.
I agree with you that this is a major problem in the industry but this one is even harder to solve. It's basically the old story about "the people with the money" influencing the projects that they are funding to increace the profits they'll get out of it. Happened with movies, comic books, tv shows and of course video games. But like I said this one is hard to tackle properly.