For the record, I don't disagree with industry icon Warren Spector when he says the "ultraviolence" in video games has to stop .
I might also agree we've gone too far, or are perhaps right on the verge of going too far. While I firmly believe in the freedom of expression, I also believe there's always a line and once that line is crossed, the product shifts from artistic expression to unnecessary pandering with no substance or redeeming value.
However, as is always the case with such sticky situations, we need an operational definition for the term that is generating argument and discussion. In this case, there's a term and a phrase: "Ultraviolence" and "We've gone too far." Obviously, no one person can definitively say we've crossed the aforementioned line, and everyone's definition of violence differs greatly. It's exceedingly difficult to get anywhere when some of the more jaded don't see anything as "ultraviolent" anymore, and the extremely conservative see a knife in someone's hand as "going too far."
The inherent problem is that because gaming is interactive and not passive, like movies, players need at least some form of action to remain interested. Now, it doesn't necessarily have to be violent, but nobody wants to play a game about mowing a lawn or grocery shopping. Heck, even romance is basically out, unless you talk about those odd Japanese dating sims which have essentially zero chance of becoming popular in this country. The bottom line is that we have to be doing something and on top of which, it really needs to be something we can't do in real life. That's part of the purpose; it needs to be an escapist fantasy.
So where's the boundary? And can we only rely on common sense to determine if we've gone too far? You'll never satisfy everyone, of course, but at what point does a game become more about pandering than legitimate entertainment?