Grossman himself focuses on how unbelievable Carneal's marksmanship is. Are we to believe that anyone playing an arcade game is automatically better qualified with a weapon than highly-trained "Green Berets, the Texas Rangers, the California Highway Patrol, the Australian Federal Police and numerous other elite military and law enforcement organizations?" The things that a videogame teaches about combat - at least a good game - focus on using cover and concealment, working as a unit, carefully clearing out a building without exposing yourself to enemy fire - things that involve thinking and problem-solving. Being a superb shot in a game does not translate into being a sniper in the real world. During my enlistment, after the initial nervousness of boot camp, I qualified at all my units as an expert with the M16, .45 and 9mm pistols, and M60 machine gun. Yet in most videogames, I'm lucky to get one "headshot" per several hundred shots.
Old Soldiers WASD
When I decided I was going to write this piece, I sat down with my father-in-law and talked about it. He's a Vietnam veteran, and he and I often talk about our respective experiences. His experiences are vastly deeper and more frightening than my own. During one night on guard duty, his position was overrun by Viet Cong. He called in an air strike on his own location and survived only through a bizarre stroke of Fate.
I showed him some different games to get his opinion on the authenticity of combat in games versus reality. When he tried to play them, the first thing we agreed was that playing first- person shooter games with a joystick sucks - "thumbs are too twitchy to aim with." We talked about some of the game scenes and how some critics claim games are too authentic, and how games teach kids to kill. While we played Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault, I told him how some people say games are too much like real combat.
"Really?" He looked down at his joystick, then up at me. "You know, when I was young, they said it was Rock and Roll corrupting us. Probably the same people doing the bitching, too. But this ... this game, teaching someone what combat's like?" He laughed.
"Might as well give them Pac Man."
Shawn "Kwip" Williams is the founder of N3 (NeenerNeener.Net), where he toils away documenting his adventures as the worst MMOG and pen-and-paper RPG player in recorded history.