Ya so, this is a hot-button issue here! Jim Sterling is going all controversial on us
and welcoming the Half-Life mod School Shooter, which requires you to shoot up a high school full of innocent children. Sounds like fun, right?
Well... no. Actually, as a high school student and basic person, it sounds pretty awful to me. Also boring. You would have to have some pretty insane AI to make this even halfway interesting.
But I still agree with you, Jim - just for different reasons.
I will tackle your first point to start, one I disagree with most. Stand back - I'm going to use Science.
You say that video games, especially of this sort, represent a harmless outlet for frustration and violent feelings. Science says otherwise.
For those to lazy to read the article (it's long, but interesting), venting - or catharsis - actually increases aggressive feelings over time. So if you think by killing people in School Shooter, or Grand Theft Auto, or what-have-you, you are preventing angry feelings from building up, you're actually prolonging them. The best solution is to just chill. Several experiments back this up. Sorry Jim, but "violent videogames are fun because they allow us to express our more brutal, sadistic sides in a way that hurts nobody" is a pretty hardcore myth.
Side note on this - I don't believe videogames fall into this category. I don't play videogames to vent, I play them cause they're fun. I can imagine myself as a superhero space marine and test my skill against other people. But enough of that (maybe I'll cover that in a future blog post). Although I can't deny I have occasionally, make that frequently, let off an unnecessary mini-nuke in Fallout - but I don't mind if I'm increasing my love for explosions. So, if you're playing to vent, you really should stop that. If you're playing for enjoyment, keep on rocking.
Now, I agree with pretty much everything else you said (except for 'lame excuses' for violence in other games -- they try hard to create compelling reasons. Defending humanity is a compelling reason). Yes, this is crass and I will never play it, but they've got guts and every right to make it. I applaud them.
Also, ankles?! The scandal!