When videogames and the real world meet, their collisions are often odd but always interesting. In this week's issue of The Escapist, Issue 215, "Reality Bytes" we're taking a look at a few of the intersections between digital worlds and our own.
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A few years ago I was tired of just doing things in videogames and not in real life so I went to Los Angeles on vacation and I actually fired an actual pistol while taking a pistol safety course.
Many people fear firearms and for good reason they should. That said I don't like the idea of letting something you fear hold you back from an experience something you enjoy doing in videogames. I have fired thousands of round if not millions in videogames. I haven't carjacked anyone, launched nuclear weapons or taken the life of others and I do not ever plan to. That said I have fired a pistol at a target at a shooting range and enjoyed the experience and learned a new and in my opinion important life skill of proper firearm safety.
Many politicians in the US and abroad like to point and blame all youth violence on videogames while they have not actually played any of the games they condemn and it would be hypocritical for a knee jerk reaction among gamers involving something they simulate in nearly all videogames before actually experience it in a legal and safe way.
Ever since my experience I have become increasingly annoyed by how firearms are portrayed in media. I am not saying they are portrayed in a negative or positive light so much so that hey are often treated like an accessory and in a dangerous manner. The first thing I learned during the course was that you should never ever point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy, you and others included.
Example I offer is this common pose.
Having a weapon facing in the direction of your face is never a could idea and people have died because a bullet from a firearm fired into the air has flown thousands of feet sometimes even miles and struck them.
Another is the Ass Crack of Infinite Ammo best displayed by the film The Way of the Gun
It maybe nit picky but I think knowing that what is shown and what is the reality of actual firearm use makes me more conscientious as a person and knowing is half the battle.
I myself have looked in the cabinet at Walmart, and recognized a couple firearms that I used in a game. Next time I visit Cabela's I will definitely keep the same thought in mind. But to definitely leave a gun show with fudge and memories....good times.
Now you've done it, I'm craving mochaccino fudge! :-P
I don't know, I think people would do better with mandatory gun safety in schools. When I was in school, a private, Catholic one at that, we had the police come out early in the fall each year and demonstrate their firearms on watermelons and the like.
They went through the effort of showing us the very real power of guns, and then how guns were not toys (as toy guns looked similar but did not feel similar) and then how to go and tell an adult if we came across one we thought might be real.
And I think seeing the reality of it, being able to come up close and touch the watermelon drives the point home that these have the very real ability to harm someone...including you. Kids know that what they see in video games and on tv isn't real, but I think that it doesn't allow them to understand the actual ability of firearms. They vaguely know it's unsafe but would it blow up a whole building in one shot or do people run around after being hit 5 times? A good demonstration, especially by authority figures like the police can be very helpful.
By the same coin, adults can have unhealthy attitudes about guns as well, some treat them with far more casualness than they deserve, while others are afraid to touch one or be in the room with one even if it were unloaded and locked with a trigger lock. And I can't say that video games help or harm, anymore than movies. But I will do think the cavalier attitude of some characters in shows/games portraying guns are adopted by people who relate to the character.
Guns, like cars, are tools, they have specific rules for safe use. Neither item is good nor evil, they are simply powerful. It is the hand of the user that determines how they are used. Having a familiarity with both so that you can understand how they operate and how to use or stop their functioning I can only think of as a good thing. Of course I believe that all knowledge is useful, and is never wasted.
people have died because a bullet from a firearm fired into the air has flown thousands of feet sometimes even miles and struck them.
Didn't Mythbusters disprove that one?
I'm with mandatory gun safety classes, though. It'd make people treat guns with the caution and focus needed when handling a tool designed specifically for killing.
Mythbusters couldn't replicate the event of firing a bullet straight up into the air and falling down killing someone. However talking with doctors that have dealt with this shows that it's a real phenomena and can kill people, partly because even when you're aiming up firing celebratory rounds, you're 99.1% assured to be pointing at some kind of angle over or under perfect 90 degrees creating a firing ark. They also didn't take into account the areas of the skull where there are immobile joints, which would be more susceptible to bullets falling at terminal velocity. I enjoy mythbusters, but they didn't really do a great job on that one, desert hard soil is not a comparative analogy for the hardness of a skull, well, it is, but not a very good one.
So we are allowed to distribute racist propaganda in video game conventions?
This weeks art is really good. The art is very alluring and almost hypnotic.
An interesting observation which reminded me of a situation I was in, here in the UK;
The UK is rather different to the US with regards to firearms legislation.
While waiting for a flight with two fellow gamers we noticed two armed police patrolling the departure terminal, this was in the wake of greatly increased terrorism fears.
Among ourselves we started to discuss the rifles they were carrying (Heckler & Koch G36's) and had a little argument as to which version they were, the familiarity with the rifles had come from playing (a lot) of Battlefield 2 and other FPS's.
As the Officers passed by we all proclaimed that they were, as we had initially thought, G36C's. This elicited a look and a raised eyebrow from the Officer closest to us followed by a gruff chuckle. It opened my eyes to how blasť we had become to seeing weapons openly carried by our normally unarmed police officers.
Incidentally the flight we took was to Prague in the Czech Republic to meet with a fellow =VTA= Game Community member who lived there.
As part of our weekends adventures, he took us to a firing range where (in a safe and controlled environment) we fired, among other things, a Vz.58V (Czech AK47 Variant), Thompson SMG and a pump-action shotgun.
Using weapons that up until then I had only used in games left me with a new found respect of firearms, the level of concentration and safety that surrounds them.