Quite possibily the reason for me not getting interested in violent games like Mortal Kombat was the way I was raised by my parents. They were always very strict about what kind of movies that I watched, including not allowing me to see PG-13 movies until I was almost 13 years of age (and my first PG-13 movie was Gorillas in the Mist... hardly a movie that was based on violence). Many boys who are raised with a more paternal and violent influence (playing football out in the backyard or getting into fights at school). Perhaps, people who grew up in a similar surroundings of Mortal Kombat or the movie/play West Side Story would be more in-tune with the concept of street fighting. Certainly kids that grow up in the suburbs could become interested and involved with Mortal Kombat, but most likely in a vicarious way.
Wrestling is another interesting aspect to this type of game. What actually makes shows like WWE (or in the past, WWF and WCW) interesting is not just the actual wrestling and display of physical strength, but the drama surrounding it. It doesn't matter as much what takes place during a wrestling match as it does with how entertaining it was. The movie Beyond the Mat was a documentary about the life of several wrestlers...it showed what they had to go through every week in order to put on a show. One wrestler in particular, Mick Foley (Mankind), would often self-mutilate for the benefit of the show and to make it look unique. He would wind up all bloody (with real blood) and had plenty of scars from previous shows. There was almost a masochistic feel to what he was doing. The movie also showed how much emotional pain that he put his family through. While the show itself was scripted, he was really inflicting pain on himself and was really bleeding. The trips to the hospital and the concussions were real. It was because of his family that he ultimately decided to retire from the game, despite his enjoyment in pleasing the fans every week.
Moral Kombat has only a very small aspect of setup in contrast to the wrestling of WWE...you're fighting another person, but for a specific reason, which although not defined by the game, you can assume...you are both members of a rival gang, or the other guy stole your girlfriend or something. I would imagine that two boys playing the game could easily make up reasons for deciding to fight each other on the game...wether it be a boyish desire to just fight and show off their manhood or because one boy had stole the other's toys or made up rumors about him at school or something. An interesting thought regarding video games such as Mortal Kombat is that they do not actually rely on the player's physical strength in order to win the game. With the selection of a character and a push of a button, you have a huge buff body and a certain set of skills. Winning the game depends instead on your ability to push buttons at a certain speed and in a certain order. The contrast to that would be a game such as World Class Track Meet that used the PowerPad on the original Nintendo. You actually played out an entire set of Olympic-like games and it relied on some set of physical skills. For the long jump, you would simply run as fast as you can on the pad and then jump off, but there IS an aspect of physical skill to it -- running.
In conclusion, I see that fighting games have their place, even if it's not something that I am very interested in playing. Mortal Kombat set the tone for fighting games for years to come, in addition to the sequels to the same game. These games play to the boyish needs of some boys, but maybe not to all.