Research conducted by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has found that gamers place escapism and exhilaration at the top of their agenda when playing games.

“In some sense the violence is fun…It’s just a game. It’s just escapism,” said one of the participants.

The research also pointed out that many titles - such as sports games, driving games and the incredibly popular The Sims and Mario - do not contain violence. It found that many people play first-person shooter games and sports games with equal enthusiasm.

The argument that violence has become more realistic due to enhancements of graphics was also recognised. Gamers said they “appreciate seeing blood and having choices about how characters are to be killed”.

Elimination of the enemy is seen as the central activity in many games and the violence is necessary for the game to exist.

One Medal of Honour fan said: “In the games I play it needs to have that violence…it needs to have the killing and the death. That’s part of the reason why they were made”.

Interestingly, although a lot of action games enable players to decide how much gore they would like, the gamers participating in the BBFC’s study all said they would choose to maximise blood and guts if given the option.

The individual appeal of violence in gaming is difficult to pinpoint, the study said, as many “key rewards and satisfactions of gaming often depend on the violence”. The research shows that gamers enjoy the opportunity to behave in exhilaratingly dangerous ways they would not in real life, therefore feeling a sense of escapism. However, alongside this, interactivity was also stated as an important appeal, with gamers saying that “being responsible for it is what makes the violence enjoyable”.

It was also revealed that what may appear as violence is regarded by players as formulaic, where the victims are merely obstacles in the game and in no sense real people.

Although many gamers, young males in particular, feel violent games are fun due to the action and consequent tensions, the BBFC also found a lot felt uncomfortable about the degree of violence. There was even some reference made to games affecting dreams.

“Sometimes if I play gory games, I have nightmares. I woke up crying once because I was so worried,” said one gamer.