171: From the Barrel of a Gun

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From the Barrel of a Gun

"Myths usually die slowly; their original form eroded by eras and changing cultural landscapes. The gun as a myth looked to fade in this way. Once attached to the Western, a genre that has lately taken on the qualities of a requiem, I thought the gun as a mythic icon might follow a similar trajectory. Instead, its death has been rapid and ignominious. Images of the gun are still prevalent, but the power once associated with them no longer exists. Nowhere is this more evident than in videogames. The gun has become an inert symbol: full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

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Until videogames address this reality more effectively, showdowns will remain the province of cut scenes

Maybe so, but I'm not convinced by the implication that games currently address this reality ineffectively.

Guns are the videogame metaphor or choice for a very mechanical thing: an aimed tagging device. And if the result of tagging something isn't the same as the result of shooting someone with a gun, that's not necessarily a design failure.

If videogame guns were like real guns then videogame violence would become more like real violence. I saw some movie footage once of a soldier in some skirmish warfare in Africa. He was standing at the corner of a building, holding a moderately large automatic weapon in one hand and firing it blind around the corner. Clearly his chances of hitting anything were next to zero. But then, that probably wasn't his main concern. Mainly, I assume, he didn't want anything to hit him. Nobody wants to play videogames like that.

Swords fare no better in videogames. Nor does any other weapon.

If you want to see games which are more like Dirty Harry than The A-Team, the first requirement is to come up with gameplay mechanics which would work that way. If you can't think of anything, then maybe Dirty Harry is better as a film after all?

First, let me say that I don't think that the way things are presently is a problem. I enjoy shiny things, and if those shiny things make me win points (and frustrate the people I'm playing against), I'm all for them. So the problem isn't with poorly designed games, it's with games that don't let you fully appreciate what it means to kill something.

Honestly, I don't want to kill something. Otherwise I'd be a murderer instead of a gamer. I want to play with my friends, have fun, and kick their ass in a nonliteral fashion. That I achieve these joyous feelings by defeating my enemies isn't a crime on behalf of game designers, in my opinion, since not only would any other weapon than a gun do just as well, but I never think even for a second that I've killed my opponent. I've merely defeated them in a contest. And that's all I set out to do.

The problem isn't that there are too many guns, or that guns are too technical, or whatever. The guns aren't the point. Oh sure, some people might get the incorrect idea about guns and fun going together from videogames... But is that really the fault of developers who make fun and shiny guns to play with in a nonrealistic environment, or is that the fault of whoever was supposed to be responsible for the education of said people?

That said, I didn't get the impression from Tom's article that that was his concern. It looks more to me like Tom's mourning the fact that an icon that he idolised is being pretty much ignored, even when it's in full display. I would do the same, I reckon, if something I revered was being portrayed as inconsequential. But like I said, the guns aren't the point.

A game that depicts a gun in the meaningful way described won't happen until someone makes a game that has meaningful people in it that we care about. And then goes on to show how devastating the loss of their friend is. However, a game that does portray the ending of life as meaningful won't happen until a game that portrays the existance of life as meaningful comes around, and I don't see that happening any time soon. This article is just as easily applied to the many action blockbuster movies that're cranked out by hollywood every year. The only real difference is that movies more easily portray lives as meaningful. So, Tom, I hope someone makes a game like that for you, but even if that game existed now, I'd rather go play Half Life 2 and save the world.

There is no samurai code equivalent for the gun because any fool can pick one up and kill another.

Stab in the dark here, but you don't own any guns do you? Guns, first and foremost, are tools. There's no dark, evil backstory about their creation. And, for the millions of people that own, use, and collect them, there's nothing myth-like about them.

I think you're looking at it wrong. Videogames aren't failing at upholding the myth of the gun as a magic talisman where the mere sight of one wards off those wishing you harm. They're succeeding at destroying that myth and more accurately portraying them as a tool to be used.

Yet it is that tool that you shouldn't use. We have a saying here in Romania:
If you wouldn't like it done to you, don't do it on someone else.

One of the only games where the mortality of guns is (kinda) well portrayed is Call of Duty 4. Not in the multiplayer mode, that's just a slug-fest. I mean the brilliant single-player mode. And again I'm not talking about the gameplay of it, I'm talking about the 2 moments in which you can see the gun's power to kill. Namely in the beginning, when the president gets killed by a shot to the head, and the ending, that cut all links between you and the characters you've grown to respect (if you consider yourself in the game) and like.

The ending alone made me see the gruesomeness of war and of the simple mechanism that flings lead at supersonic speeds. The only thing I can say is: at least it can be quicker than something else...

darksaiyan:
Yet it is that tool that you shouldn't use. We have a saying here in Romania:
If you wouldn't like it done to you, don't do it on someone else.

I own and shoot guns. Would you care to tell me why I shouldn't use them?

Well, at least not use them in the alternative way of using them, meaning bringing harm to another human being. If you want to shoot at targets or anything that doesn't die as of you using the tool, as a means of entertainment, go ahead, I even encourage it.

I think that what Tom here is getting at is having a more visceral experience in using a weapon in a video game, as opposed to the "shooting gallery" style that alot of shooters have today, in which I shoot the enemy and I never see him again, and he sometimes doesn't even bleed. There's no emotional attachment to firing the weapon and the victim dying.

But what he suggests involves either a different method of controlling a game (e.i the Novint Falcon) or more emphasis on blood and gore. ESRB wouldn't allow that kind of blood, not even a realistic amount just to know you've killed someone, not just hit a target. And even more emotional dialouge and story might be labeled as "disturbing" and frowned upon by most authorities. I'm not saying tear ESRB down, but perhaps push the envelope a little farther, at least to the point already set by films and television.

In fact, maybe a system more like the one used in alot of RPG's should be set for games, in which all the citizens of a city can be interacted with, killed or talked to, and each has their own personality. Then killing one would remove them from the game. Permanently. (unless you loaded a previously saved game). That's the only way I see of having more emotion on the player's part in firing a video game weapon and watching someone die.

that sort of goes back to my point though. People who own guns and use them regularly don't see anything inherently mythical or evil about them. Guns in videogames are the same. I need to get through that door being guarded by 4 guys with AK's and body armor. Where's my rocket launcher? Those guys aren't any more real than a goomba in Mario. Why would the rocket launcher elicit any more of an emotional response than a fireball?

We don't value the everyday and the ordinary. If guns are an exotic item to you, they may take on mythical properties. If you've grown up with them and use them regularly, they're no different than a hammer or wrench.

MorkFromOrk:
There is no samurai code equivalent for the gun because any fool can pick one up and kill another.

The same is true with a sword. Using a gun properly takes about as much skill as any other weapon, but any weapon is still potentially lethal in the hands of an unskilled user.

That said, many of the main characters in spaghetti westerns are modeled after Samurai (some of those movies are literal remakes of samurai movies). Thus, you have a 'code of bushido' for the gunslinger. It was never formalized, of course, nor is it that historically accurate, but neither are the samurai of fantasy that similar to the samurai of history.

mbvmgb:
that sort of goes back to my point though. People who own guns and use them regularly don't see anything inherently mythical or evil about them. Guns in videogames are the same. I need to get through that door being guarded by 4 guys with AK's and body armor. Where's my rocket launcher? Those guys aren't any more real than a goomba in Mario. Why would the rocket launcher elicit any more of an emotional response than a fireball?

We don't value the everyday and the ordinary. If guns are an exotic item to you, they may take on mythical properties. If you've grown up with them and use them regularly, they're no different than a hammer or wrench.

I have to say, I like this statement a lot. Those who understand the dangers of guns the most are those who use them regularly.

mbvmgb:
that sort of goes back to my point though. People who own guns and use them regularly don't see anything inherently mythical or evil about them.

I agree that if you grew up around guns, or own them, they do become a quotidian object. However, we have to acknowledge that in the realm of public discourse the gun becomes a mythological object whose presence looms large over the American psyche. Probably a good percentage of the gun owning population does use them in a untilitarian capacity: for home defense, hunting, and recreational shooting. But the fact that we can purchase an assault rifle, a weapon whose function lies far beyond civilian purview, is a hint that Americans' relationship with guns is deeper than the desire for a merely utilitarian tool. There is an element of fantasy realized, of being able to own the same weapon our armed forces use in wars.

The other indicator is that guns are a major political issue, such that the NRA routinely suggests that any firearm restrictions are un-American. When the gun becomes inseparable from national identity, when some would suggest it's very existence is necessary to our national identity, it has certainly entered the realm of myth.

Good Lord Endo, was that a Macbeth reference in a video game article? F*** yes man.

@ mbvmgb

Interesting argument...lets see, if we flip your idea upside down then that would imply that guns or weapons we cannot ourselves use but only observe attract us while the weapons in games we can use become normal. What are some weapons the player could never use in a game and seem really cool? Sephirtoh's Masamune comes to mind, or in the tradition of JRPG's Sephiroth's character can never be used except for that brief interval. There a few Mega Man bosses that are like this but you eventually get most of their powers. Metal Gear Solid games do this...seems more like the characters that take on the mythological aspect as opposed to their weapons. Since our tools in a video game are to play as someone, maybe the ones we can't play are what we idolize? Maybe the whole nature of video game weapons is to present that myth to the player and then dispel it by allowing them to control that power themselves?

Okay so here's what you do. You make a wii game. In this game, your character is a private eye. He has a gun, and a notebook, which are represented by the two parts of the Wiimote. You use the notebook to navigate and interact with objects in the game world, and solve puzzles.

You use the gun to blow someone's fucking head off.

Here's the thing, though. You make it so that the other characters in the game world-- the suspects, the innocents, the guy who's secretly the murderer-- are all afraid of the gun. Their eyes follow the gun half of the controler carefully, even when you're talking to them, tearing their eyes away to make eye contact only after a couple of seconds. Draw the gun too quickly, and they may panic. Carelessly point the barrel at them, and they might freeze, or they might just scowl and go "Watch where you point that thing!" as they move out of the way. Wave the gun at a person while you're talking to them, and they will tell you whatever they think you want to hear-- to hell with whether it's true or not. And everyone breathes a sigh of relief when you put the gun away and pull out the notebook. Antagonize them too much, and they might attack you from behind or try to wrest the weapon away from you the moment you let your guard down.

I think a game like this would go a long way towards restoring the myth of the gun. Perhaps even the wii hardware isn't enough, maybe you'd need a combination of a point & click controller, a webcam, and facial and voice recognition software to know where your eyes are pointing and what sort of mood you're in. Or perhaps something simpler and more effective could be arranged with the technology already at our disposal.

The point is, if restoring the myth of the gun is the goal, then it can only be achieved by creating games that treat the gun less like a tactical tool, and more like a big scary hunk of metal that murders people. And that can only be achieved either by creating a whole new set of controls (and indeed, input and feedback devices) that allow for a much more realistic type of interactivity, or else by scripting a ton of interactive events that editorialize the player's every casual movement.

Basically, you'd need NPCs and bad guys to behave as if they are afraid of the gun, not merely threatened by it. (I assume the goal is to make the player Dirty Harry. Making the villain Dirty Harry doesn't work because 99.9% of players will not cower, will not run from a villain, no matter how badass he is. Best case scenario, any situation where a frontal assault doesn't work is interpreted as a really long and annoying non-combat sequence where they have to do it just right in order to pass; I.E. any boss in HalfLife 1.)

@Tendo

I'm not going to touch on guns as a political issue. We might as well start talking about abortion, gay rights, immigration, etc. I will say that the idea that buying an automatic weapon in this country is at all easy is just as much a myth as bigfoot.

I grew up with guns both in real life and in video games. I don't hold on to any of the real-life myths about guns because I know what they do and how they work. I think the same holds true for video games. Once you know their stats, they are nothing BUT the fireworks display you spoke of. I think the difference is that you expect them to be something other than that because you expect guns in real-life to be like that even though they aren't.

I think you were on to something when you spoke of the targets of the gun and games as shooting galleries. I agree that their isn't much emotional impact in videogames where guns play a major role. I think this is more an issue where the death of a character just isn't handled very well in games outside of the occasional cutscene. (I was playing through a mod of HL2 where the NPC's could be killed. accidentally killing Barney with a grenade? = whoops, reload. The end of episode 2? = awww, screw you, Valve:-( I think games are going to have to become much less friendly to new players before they can accurately portray the effects of being careless with a gun.

@L.B.

I will admit that I was rather let down when I found out that, in Bioshock,

. Bioshock also stands as an example where, out of all the weapons, guns take a backseat to the (much more interesting) plasmid abilities. I don't know that I would go so far as to say "idolize", but there are certainly guns in games that we strive to achieve, and even end up disappointed in once we get them. I think that applies to all items in any given game, not just guns, though.

Personally, I think this fits in well with the tits and cars theories.

For each of the items, there is the unrealistic MEGA item (Ivy (SC IV), BFG 4K (Doom/Quake), Leviathan (Unreal's Cheese Machine));
then there's the "I have no idea how these work but doesn't it look pretty" items (Mai Shiranui (Fatal Fury), Eightball Launcher (Unreal), MMO Horses);
and then the "Wow!" items where people have obviously spent a long time crafting them not just to be attractive but to act like they're supposed to ( Alyx Vance (HL), Natasha (Team Fortress 2), Banshee (GTA series))

Like anything else, there are lots of the second variety, for speed; a few SHOCK stories about the first ones and the odd few games like the third variety.

And it doesn't just stop there or at those three items...

Husbands on TV programmes : Most are well meaning slobs, a few are perfect and the good ones are well detailed.
Film plots : A gets B after trauma C, A gets B WITH EXPLOSIONS and A starts off wanting to get B but learns why instead.

It's where the media falls down. They focus on the primary category to rant/rave about, let the second off because they're not doing anything really wrong and ignore the third; just like this article appears to.

Guns maybe ubiquitous; but a true gun, like a magical sword, or the first kiss, still has the myth buried deep within it. And you'll never lose that.

isnt dehumanizing your enemies what allows us to simply gun them down?

@Warpzone: I'd love to see that game made. There are a lot of possibilities for moral decisions there. Perhaps the player could be put in a situation where after intimidating people with the gun for a while they would have to actually shoot someone. Then we could tell if the buildup really worked and if that scene achieved the same level of emotional impact that a movie could.

@bue519: I think that's the crux of the author's argument, really. There is no game that doesn't dehumanize everyone for you already. What some people would like to see is a game where killing someone is not to be taken at all lightly, unlike a game that simply provides you with endless targets and says "OK, shoot all of those." I thought the gunship level from COD4 did a good job of highlighting that attitude using irony. When you're blowing up buildings from the sky, watching the little black and white people running away, the pilot is saying stuff like "Whoo! This is going to make one hell of a highlights reel!" A game more conscious of the way games *do* dehumanize the player's opponents would make for an interesting experience.

Condemned: Criminal Origins did a good portrayal of gun's deadliness. Although only carrying one and not being able to reload could be interpreted as being unrealistic.

The guns were loud, powerful, often killing or incapacitating an enemy immediately, but at the same time you had to try and be conservative. A scary moment would make you accidentally fire, perhaps revealing yourself or at the least wasting scarce ammo. The machine gun was a perfect example of this, carrying the most ammo, but likely to be used the quickest due it its rapid rate of fire.

I felt more dangerous with a gun with one bullet then when wielding a fireaxe, despite the latter's long potential long term use. Because I was thinking about surviving the next fight, not the one after that.

I felt it captured a little of what a gun should feel like. In HL2 the pistol with one bullet is useless but in real life its threatening and dangerous.

I feel like there has been a pretty major omission from this article and discussion, a game which I haven't played for a long time but sprung to my mind when it was said guns in video games have lacked focus.

Counter-strike.

I discovered it in beta (when we were all still lefties!), but the most powerful thing about the experience, even back then, had to be the guns. Assisted by the mechanic of actually 'dying' (if only until next round), it really did feel like each of these guns held power.

The incredible balance (obviously tweaked through many iterations) meant that with the possible exception of the Scout sniper rifle (which I still loved because nothing said pwned like head-shotting a mate with a Scout), all the guns had their merits and draw-backs. Maybe that's not totally realistic, but it lead to people often having strange attachments to certain guns, defending them against perceived balance issues and so on (the AWP and P90 were memorable favourites for being derided and defended).

Every time you wielded any of those guns in battle, it felt like you WERE Dirty Harry, and those terrorist/CTs were going to be on the wrong end of your shit sandwich. Was there anything sweeter than rounding a corner with the 12 gauge Beretta and unloading it point blank into some poor bugger from halfway around the world's virtual face? Or maybe it was taking pot shots with a Deagle and scoring a lucky hit. Or just simply whoring up the AWP from some far flung corner of the map, haplessly mowing down anyone who peeked into your field of view. When that puppy landed, you knew they were gonna stay down...

Or maybe it was just me being a 15 year old boy? ;o)

MorkFromOrk:
There is no samurai code equivalent for the gun because any fool can pick one up and kill another.

It's called Cheatingwhiteman Fu for a reason.

I'm curious why the Hitman series hasn't been mentioned. Sure you could go around killing everyone indiscriminately but that kind of defeats the point of the series.
If you actually take your time to sneak through and avoid any unnecessary killing, when you finally get to your target, put Agent 47's iconic Silver Hardballers to the back of your target's head and pull the trigger, it carries a lot of weight to it.
The difference in the game's mood when you stick to that play style is quite noticeable. Do one level and slaughter everyone, and then do the same level doing your best to sneak the whole way through. I guarantee when you do finally get to the actual kill, it'll have much more feeling and impact behind it.

TOGSolid, I agree about the hitman series especially blood money. Hitting a target with a single sniper round from a attic over-looking their wedding. Or when playing without saves and getting caught by a single guard silently headshoting him and trying to drag him out of the way.

I think the writer here has a great point. In fact I'm so bored by guns in videogames these days that I've spent the last five years or so seeking out games that don't involve mass killing. Such games are few and far between, but I find they offer a lot more depth in terms of character, storyline and emotional involvement than even the most highly rated FPS game.

In one of my favourite games (the little known 'The Last Express'), the main character actually kills no-one and never touches a gun throughout the game, yet it is one of the most emotionally involving games I've played. It's the same with The Longest Journey - another game where plot and character take the place of the usual shooting gallery. Then there's Syberia, another great game that places beautiful visuals, great characters and an engaging story ahead of mindless gunplay and twitch reflexes.

I wish we could get away from this gun fixation that the industry is currently pursuing. Maybe if the industry would start placing story and character ahead of mindless action, everyone would start to realize that there's a lot more to videogames than just vacuous trigger-pulling.

Several posters made good points regarding games in which the depiction of guns is more effective. I definitely want to acknowledge that those games exist.

For instance I found myself slightly disturbed at having to shoot the female bosses in MGS4 as they stagger toward you stripped of all their armor, defenseless and dying. I'd spent the past ten minutes hammering away at some overwrought Japanese robot with a ridiculous machine gun and really the most powerful moment of the whole encounter is when you're forced to shoot someone you've already beat.

tendo82:
Several posters made good points regarding games in which the depiction of guns is more effective. I definitely want to acknowledge that those games exist.

For instance I found myself slightly disturbed at having to shoot the female bosses in MGS4 as they stagger toward you stripped of all their armor, defenseless and dying. I'd spent the past ten minutes hammering away at some overwrought Japanese robot with a ridiculous machine gun and really the most powerful moment of the whole encounter is when you're forced to shoot someone you've already beat.

I'm still playing MGS4, but I'd agree that doing this is unnerving, and I always have switched to the tranq pistol when this time comes.

There's a line in Unforgiven; it's a funny thing, killing a man. You take away all he's been, and all he's ever gonna be.

Which is what you do when you kill someone, but videogames (in the name of fun) don't include that aspect. I'm mostly OK with this; I want to have fun as much as anyone. However, arguing that guns have no mythological power in our culture is a bit like saying that they have no power whatsoever.

The argument that 'guns are just tools, especially for those of us who use them all the time', while on it's surface correct, ignores the broader implications for using that tool on another human being, and a game that addressed that aspect of the use of a gun could provide for some very powerful moments. However, is this about the gun, or is it about the culture or is it about the game?

Maybe it's a mix of all these things, as they tend to wrap around each other.

What about the game "Black"?
Thought the plot was lacking, and the final battle an exercise in memorization, the focus of the game in on the firearms and I think they succeeded in that respect. I agree that really feeling what you are doing, i.e. ending life, is not there, but i think I may not want too much realism in death. I don't want to kill people and I play shooters for the fun and the strategy...

Interesting article, and an insightful look into the gun as an object of myth. But I would disagree that computer games, as they are currently presented, can offer many different perspectives to the gun. In a computer game, the gun is merely a tool, a way of racking up kill counts. In order to present a different perspective, they will have to make games where the gun can be used to intimidate people, which would require a lot more work in the field of artificial intelligence.

As well as that, there are images in computer games which are more potent. Watching an aeroplane flying overhead, at once disconnected and connected to the action, is far more potent than the simple infantryman, and then there's the big one - nuclear weapons. From the iconic mushroom cloud to the loud, unceasing roar, everything about a properly portrayed nuclear detonation spells trouble.

I think there's only been one game that I've played in which a gun has had a "put that thing away!" reaction - Fallout, where civilian populations don't react well to weapons. However, the game doesn't account for the difference between a man in animal skins holding a rock and a fully power-armoured soldier with a plasma rifle and a heavy machine gun.

J234:
I think that what Tom here is getting at is having a more visceral experience in using a weapon in a video game, as opposed to the "shooting gallery" style that alot of shooters have today, in which I shoot the enemy and I never see him again, and he sometimes doesn't even bleed. There's no emotional attachment to firing the weapon and the victim dying.

I agree; but he doesn't bring up any wonderful ideas on how to fix this! Tom, it's more like you had a rant without any productive ideas.

WarpZone:
The point is, if restoring the myth of the gun is the goal, then it can only be achieved by creating games that treat the gun less like a tactical tool, and more like a big scary hunk of metal that murders people. And that can only be achieved either by creating a whole new set of controls (and indeed, input and feedback devices) that allow for a much more realistic type of interactivity, or else by scripting a ton of interactive events that editorialize the player's every casual movement.

Basically, you'd need NPCs and bad guys to behave as if they are afraid of the gun, not merely threatened by it.

That is what you need - something where you're not going around shooting hundreds of people.

I think one of the best "gun" games I ever played wasn't a game at all; it was a training simulation. Imagine this scenario:
I'm standing in front of a large screen (FMV technology) with a holstered weapon. The weapon is a 9mm handgun that has a gas cartridge to simulate the slide moving with a fired round.

On the screen in front of me, It shows my view as I'm walking through a convenience store. I hear voices from the front of the store:
"Just give me the money!"
"NO Sir!"
"Look, just give me the damn money!"

The screen shows me coming around a corner of shelves, and I can see a guy with his back to me, arguing with the clerk. I yell at the guy to stop what he's doing (of course, he doesn't respond because it's a video simulation) and I draw my weapon believing I'm seeing a robbery in progress. He suddenly turns and I notice he's bringing a pistol up to fire at me, and I take him out - when he's hit, the FMV jumps a bit then shows him crumpling the ground.

A friend of mine then does the same scenario. The argument is taking place, everything is playing out exactly the same. As the guy is turning my friend is about to shoot him, but the guy turns and is holding a bit of merchandise and says "Sir, can you help me? I'm just trying to return this item and get my money back..."

This type of game really makes you think about shooting - if you choose to shoot, you may be making a big mistake. They had several filmed scenarios, each with multiple outcomes. These types of simulators exist, and they have pellets that fire back at you too.

image

I really liked Swat 3; you were given a lower score for hitting hostages or not using proper "deadly force" on the bad guys. If they dropped a weapon, you "weren't supposed to" shoot them. While that doesn't provide an emotional attachment, things could get pretty hairy if you were trying to keep the hostages safe in the middle of a shootout. Also, in Swat 3, the bad guy might be hiding in a closet; or under a bed. He might drop his weapon, he might not - he might not even have a weapon.

Games like that can really give you a pause before you shoot; and sometimes it would piss me off because the bad guys didn't care. If I took too long to ID someone and determine if they were a threat or not, I could end up being shot in the face. I don't like being shot in the face. :( And I don't like shooting innocents either - unless I'm rampaging in a game like GTA 4 where the world is just a big sandbox.

tendo82:

mbvmgb:
that sort of goes back to my point though. People who own guns and use them regularly don't see anything inherently mythical or evil about them.

But the fact that we can purchase an assault rifle, a weapon whose function lies far beyond civilian purview, is a hint that Americans' relationship with guns is deeper than the desire for a merely utilitarian tool.

You comments and other proves what mbvmgb is trying to get across. It is a myth to those people that don't own or have fire them. On the other hand, people that own firearms, for them is a tool or hobby.

I own four AR-15 and two AK-47 in my collection. I also own many type of firearms. Let take example of the so called "Assault Rifle", in particular the AR-15 family (M16, M4, etc.). The AR-15 is the best selling rifle in the USA for the past 25 years since the patent has expired. All major US gun manufacture make a clone of it. It is use in many ways. For example hunting, target shooting, self defense, etc. Just like any other rifle.

There are over 300 milllions firearms in the USA. About 10 millions are AR15 in private hands. The demand for AR15 outstrip the supply. Every major AR15 manufacture and part manufactures are doing their best to meet the civilian and military demands. The last AR-15 I build I had to wait for three months to get the parts deliver to my home.

The other indicator is that guns are a major political issue, such that the NRA routinely suggests that any firearm restrictions are un-American. When the gun becomes inseparable from national identity, when some would suggest it's very existence is necessary to our national identity, it has certainly entered the realm of myth.

Gun restriction is un-American because it breaks the law. It breaks the 2nd Amendment. It took 75 years to bring it up to the SCOTUS for a ruling and all 9 judge ruled as an individual right just like the 1st Amendment. The NRA mission is to protect the 2nd Amendment, promote gun sports, and land conservation.

There are well over 100 millions people that own or have use a firearm in some way. In general it is only a myth for those people that never touch them. It is only a myth if you base your knowledge on what you see and hear in the news media, tv shows, movies, games, etc.

You can learn more about the AR-15(M16, M4) as well as other firearms on AR15.com. At any given time there are over 2000 members on the forum. However I suggest you just read the comments and forget what you learn from games, TV, Movies, new media, etc because they are wrong.

There is no samurai code equivalent for the gun because any fool can pick one up and kill another.

I don't think you understand the samurai code. The samurai code is about moral principles. It has nothing to do with the weapon. It is something that is share across all professional warriors from past to present to the future.

The same is true with a sword. Using a gun properly takes about as much skill as any other weapon, but any weapon is still potentially lethal in the hands of an unskilled user.

That is correct. There are tens of thousands of firearm training schools across the USA. They range from basic to advance. Some cost tens of thousand of dollars to enter.

--

Call of Duty 4 is not even close to realistic. They might model the firearm and the general environment well. The ballistics, tactical strategy, military facts, etc are way off. For example: IIRC the two active Force Recon Battalions has been deactivated around 2006. "Spetsnaz" which is translated "Special Force" in English. There is no Russian military unit that is named "Spetsnaz". Just like their is no US military unit named "Special Force".

CoD4 is really a great example what is myth and reality. You have some server that actually don't allow sprinting. In real combat, the combatants do sprint. Why? If someone is shooting at you are you going to walk slowly like you see in the movies? Or do you run like hell and find cover? You run like hell because in real life you don't respawn. In some case combatants sprint/run to move into position, trying to out flank the enemy, or get to a general location before the enemy arrive.

Note the comparisons in the article relate the myth of guns to movies such as Dirty Harry or Scarface. The article is about guns in games struggling to reach that level of emotional impact, not so much how old Westerns and videogames reflect reality.

But I agree with jdun and mbvmgb, that "emotional impact" isn't due to the nature of guns.

When the impact of using a gun on a person is no different than using a gun on a target; when the difference is merely that the person is presenting a threat in response, there can be no more emotional impact to the encounter than that of a target. It's easy to think that because you need to kill 400+ enemies in the latest shooter that it would be impossible to create a sense of emotional weight to the use of a gun, but this is still misinterpreting where the true weight of that emotional impact comes from.

Gamers inherently realise there is no true consequence for their action. Even in a game where you could be partnered with an NPC and build a rapport with them throughout the entire story would be robbed of the emotional impact of killing that NPC at some point, because the game could always be reloaded. Without fear or worry, players will execute that character merely to observe the consequences, then reload, not having to wear them.

Again, this is not to say it is impossible to include that magical 'emotional weight'. The core of it exists in the inexorable finality of death. Not the gun, not the fancy effects. It isn't when the player chooses whether or not to end a virtual life, it is when the virtual life ends. When something is taken from the player that cannot be brought back.

Comparisons to Samurai are interesting, because they highlight this point quite succinctly. There were the Dirty Harrys of Ancient Japan; mythologised samurai. Regardless of one's weapon of choice, the story is what brings forth the attachment. Dry statistics will never carry emotional weight. Not even realistic physics and character models can create the kind of depth being referred to.

Did anyone else feel determined to complete Max Payne by the time you were near the end? Did anyone get so far into the game and then put it down, unable to sum up the motivation to get over that last hump? That's the best example I can think of for videogames, off the top of my head. The man with nothing to lose versus the one who took it all away.

I live in the UK where guns are outlawed. Heh, even the British Olympic shooting team decamps to the continent (ie mainland Europe) to practice!

There is always an attraction for the proscribed. In this case, it's a gun (as opposed to drugs - from cigs to alcohol or sex - checkout any teen movie). However, looking at the mainstream movies I'm not sure if the attraction is to the gun itself so much as the trappings of the personality wielding said gun. Dunno 'bout you, but I didn't find Vinny Jones and his .50 Desert Eagle anywhere near as "attractive" as Clint Eastwood and his .44 Smith and Wesson. Heh and I sure do like the John Woo school of diving with twin pistols!

So it seems the attraction is more about the way you use them or talk them up. Not having a gun culture in the UK, perhaps the US residents can confirm if more hand gun users ape the cinema counterparts by holding the gun sideways? I can only recall one game doing that out of all the many FPS I've played since Doom.

I guess it is possible to make a "gun" alluring entirely within a game environment, but it would take lots of hints and tips. I think I remember a game in which you learn of a prototype weapon and eventually when you get it, boy, does it let rip! Might have been System Shock.

Going back to reality, whilst I admit to guns having an allure, I'm not sure it's from the same perspective as a soldier or a hunter. I don't think I want to have that attitude to life that I have to nuts and bolts! OTOH, were guns legal, yes I'd have something in the house for "home defence". But they'd be *weapons* that I'd have practiced with, perhaps with some pride in attaining skill but definitely a realisation of the "kills people easily".

But perhaps that's why I always equip the capsicum paint ball gun in SWAT 4!

I am certainly not going to delve into the eternal Internetular G*n C*ntr*l debate here, which has been waged unceasingly since at least my Usenet days of long ago, save only to say that there are many perspectives and few converts. Save your carpal-tunnel-inducing keystrokes for something less futile, please.

I will say, though, that if you want a firearm to have the same mystique in a video game as it does in a good Western then it has to be used the same way as in such a movie; rarely, perhaps suddenly or unexpectedly, always at a critical juncture in the story, and always with meaningful consequences. It should be sudden, fast, and decisive. Gunplay would have to be rare and foreshadowed, giving it emotional impact, and have awesome/dreadful repercussions so that players wouldn't just shrug it off.

Perhaps make it more of a point-and-click adventure type RPG where combat is very rare and you're mainly conversing with NPCs and gathering clues to the baddies' hideout or something. It'd have to be more story based than action based, and the gunfight mechanism would have to be sparsely used in order to preserve that sense of awe... which means little ability for players to practice that mechanic except maybe for a tutorial plinking at cans or rocks or something. Dunno if it would sell, but it'd be different.

Maybe an experimental title for XNA could try this, but I strongly doubt you'd get a studio to risk much money on a long-shot. (Pardon the pun.)

-- Steve

One of the things I am noticing in the mechanic side of things is how damage is implemented, a head shot doing a small bonus of extra damage is quite lame.

Location damage should not even be used if not full implemented, and by that I mean you shot most normal targets in the head they are going to hurt...unlike bioshock where you get tiny damage bonuses or Dark messhia you can put 3 arrows into a black knights head and they walk about unfazed by it.

This is a version of a weapon threat system I am musing on

Start off by shirking the location damage target area by 30-50% and doubling if not tippling the damage done, adding a discombobulation setup.

Say you have a normal bullet for a normal enemy you get a 50/50 chance to stun/knock down for a higher level enemy it only damages.

% to knockdown/stun

Normal>V Normal=40%.V Medium=10%.V High=1%
Medium>V Medium=40%.V High=10%.V Normal=50%
High>V High=40%.V Medium=10%.V Normal=70%

Say pistol is normal,shotgun is medium change the ammo and the threat level increases for the target thats weak to it. Of coarse some things are exempt from knock down/stun, but even if used just for higher damage calculations(boosting damage by 2-5X) it would make for a better experience, you balance it by lowering direct damage some.

In the end a better more effective head shot/weak spot system needs to be implemented you can balance real world realism (IE shooting someone in the leg or face to knock them down) with fictional armor to protect from most shots.

Also humans are tougher creatures than given credit for and weapons are imperfect enough to make use of a script system that tries to base damage of a threat system, we are beyond pretty it dose not move us like it did and physics can get tired if not implemented well.

We need a smarter and deeper system to handle damage,protection and health(regen dose not cut it....)

Anton P. Nym
Have you played call of juarez?
Its a western style FPS dose a pretty good job representing the setting and a few weapons the slow time draw and quick draw setup was nicely done while not completely awe inspiring it had lethal head shots and that made it alil fearsome and somewhat awe inspiring to me. The overall game is so so but it hits enough marks to be worth the add to my collection.

IMO in order to make weapons powerful in presents and grandeur your going to have to make them potent and less er...spammy IE less shots more damage and more critical locations to hit on a target and that changes the nature of gameplay completely a shooter is about constant movement and on today's smaller maps it makes the games shorter and shorter. If you build a range based FP game with the theme of hitting locations on your target, hiding from and returning better fire from cover without running out of ammo you will ave a slow paced but highly intense game of bullet tag, it could well be interesting to further develop the train of thought but the industry as it is can not handle such creativity they prefer their boxed sterile content.

I bet no one know what firearms were used in the Wild West on top of their head. However most of you know what the Wild West look like and the characters that was in that era. It was the environment and not the gun itself that made the Wild West what it is.

Like I posted before it is hard for people that have never own or handle a firearms to tell the difference between fantasy and facts. Most of these people get their information from movies, tv, games, news media, etc and 99.9% of it is wrong.

Take for example HK. HK firearms is in almost every game and films. Their MP5 and Mk.23 pistol for people that never own or fire a gun before is the best firearm ever made. To them it is use in US Special Forces. The reality is the MP5 is not use in US Special Forces anymore. It was used in the mid '90s for a short time but not anymore for the past 12 years. SEAL use Sig 226, M9, or 1911, the Mk.23 was never use, maybe SEAL wannabes not not real SEAL. In fact the Mk.23 got discontinued because there wasn't enough wannabes SEAL that willing to pay $2k for the pistol. Yet every games has these weapons which is the complete opposite of the reality of things. They did it is to keep the fantasy alive and I understand but the drawbacks is you got game kiddies spewing bad facts into the Internet boards.

HK went bankrupted twice in the 90's because they couldn't sell their guns. In the US, HK is near the bottom of sales. The US handgun market it is dominated by 1911 and Glocks. The 1911 is the best selling handgun of all time in the US. Almost all firearms companies at one time or another made 1911 clone. It is a constant money maker. Glocks owns 70% of the local Law Enforcement market in the USA. Beretta owns the US military market. Sig and S&W take mostly the rest. Yet HK is predominantly shown in games and films. Basically there is a disconnect from reality. I have no problem with it because they are selling a fantasy product. Reality can be boring something and you have to make ends meat to feed your family. The downside again is you got a lot of game kiddies that thinks HK is the greatest thing on earth.

Damage is simple in real life. You get hit by a rifle bullet in the chest, you're mostly dead or out of the fight. Pistol bullets are less lethal then their rifle counterpart but a well place shot in the chest can have the same effect as a rifle bullet. Like they said in training school, its about shot placement.

Here a perfect write up about HK product:
http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2007/10/09/hk-because-you-suck-and-we-hate-you/

The best handgun shooter in the world don't use HK. They use 1911 and Glocks.
http://www.idpa.com/tj.asp?ID=173

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