I’d been killing things my whole life. Not real things, at least not in the quantity and quality of the virtual ones. As a child of the videogame generation I’d been raised on destroying pixelated armies of aliens and, later, super high-definition fully-animated 3-dimensional representations of creatures and beings that were almost indistinguishable from their real-life counterparts. Murder had been the method for a great many of those games, or at least the most popular ones. We never really questioned it. Of all the reactions we had to seeing virtual blood and dismemberment and destruction, severe introspection and interrogation of the medium was rarely, if ever, on our minds. Mostly it was how we could cause a higher-scoring amount of mayhem with our free time.

Had I been trained by a lifetime of virtual psychopathy to wonder if something was wrong when it wasn’t present? Or were these virtual killing fields an essential part of the modern human experience?

And why was I only starting to question this now, at 40?