I think that gaming has some cultural elements that are toxic and need to be addressed. It is not the only toxic culture. It’s not the worst toxic culture. But it certainly has serious toxic elements. I don’t think though that it is related to the games themselves. I think that it’s an environment of anonymity combined with a receptive audience with little oversight. I mean we see it on SDMB sometimes and this is one of the harder core moderated message boards out there and less anonymous than many. When you combined that with a medium that encourages competition and a large minority of people who believe that the medium essentially ‘belongs’ to straight, white males and anyone not in that demographic is somehow diluting or destroying their culture and you end up with a very toxic mess.
Putting the emphasis on desensitization of violence or whatever bugaboo is really missing the point. The issue is one with culture. We see the same thing with Islam. People spend time criticizing the medium (e.g. “The Koran says kill infidels-that’s the problem.”) When that’s not really the problem at all. The real problems are the problems that have plagued the non-community society since time immemorial. Society just doesn’t work for some people. It is isolating and anonymizing. In a community, the individual might be oppressed, but in a society, they are ignored. In some ways, that’s worse because at least oppression validates the value of the individual. It means you are at least important enough to hate. In a society, you aren’t even that. For some people and it seems especially young males who are -for lack of a better word- sexually preening via societal status, it becomes untenable and that results in extremely anti-social actions. All of this is really saying is that it becomes very easy for cultures and sub-cultures to arise that feed these socially ignored people and draw them into unhealthy communities-some of which manifest in relatively harmless ways, but some of which manifest in quite deadly ones.
The issue with guns is that you’re really treating symptoms rather than the disease. That said, I’m in favor of gun control because treating symptoms is better than doing nothing, but it doesn’t really address the inherent failures of society. Then again, I can’t think of what can address that failure.