Hello, new here, so hope I'm not speaking out of turn...
I have played a lot of video games in my time: I have been watching their development since they were invented, and with every large leap in technology, I check out the changes.
When the first generation of first-person 3D-world games - so-called virtual reality such as Doom and Duke Nukem - I was hooked, and played until the early hours in the morning, followed by fitfull sleep with vivid nightmares. I was studying for my first degree, in English literature, at a respectable university, as well as practicising a variety of daily meditations.
I am not sure I was consciously trying to escape anything: my life was generally greatly improved at that time, and I was genearlly happy. I do not think the virtual shootin was the key point of the game, it was more the discovery of a virtual world. Yes, it was disappointing that it was not as impressive as the landscapes my own mind can conjure (modesty!), but it was new and interesting for that alone.
Over the next few years, the shooting became a challenge - but it was certainly not a *conscious* concentration on death at all, rather the aquisition of, an admittedly useless, skill.
A very interestin phenomena began to emmerge - that of online collaborative play. People who were, in the game design, encourage to shoot eachother for points, did actually team up to aid eachother. So marked was this phenomena, that team games such as Capture The Flag Unreal Tournament emmerged, and became very, very popular.
Here's the rub: when the Collenbine massacre took place, my friends and I at once recognised a virtual reality "shoot 'em up" scenario in the scene -- a whole two years before the authorities acknowledged that indeed the child murderers had been playing such a game obsessivly, to the pont of modelling their school in such a game.
Of course, such people are likely to have serious and potentially murderous problems in any case, but it cannot be denied that video games add a strong strand to the unconscious in the same way that advertisments, films, and all other media. The karmic impact of all of this is quite apparent, I think: the greater and more frequent the exposure to the media, the greater the dissatisfaction with the world-without-the-media -- a cyclic addiction.
On the other hand, replacing the shooting with something more positive would probably not solve all video-game-related problems. As you say, that so many people feel their reality so poor, or just plain boring (as I presumably did), that they need to escape it is the bigger problem.