Games as learning and violence as a learned attitude

The power of immersive experiences in 3-D Virtual Worlds and games has gotten a lot of press lately and the study of games as learning has also had a spotlight thrown on it.  

For me, more gruesome headlines like the mass killings at Virgina Tech have raised an older issue related to games: do they teach and/or fan the flames of violence?

I don’t know if the obviously disturbed young man who felt it his calling to inflict death on his fellow students was a gamer.  I do know that in conflict games players are rewarded for theft, murder and destruction with prestige and power. To get by people who stand in the way, games often require players to kill them. I’ve also read that in some games, sex is a reward for prowess.

Many people brushed off a connection between games and violence.  Violent people are drawn to violent games seemed to be the conclusion and it pretty much got dropped.  But as gamers get younger, games get more immersive and more comes out about them as a learning tool —

Do we need to think harder about the incidental learning that’s going in games?