On virtual guns

It’s a good post. I’ve never been a gun fan but I’m still trying to headshot in Counter-Strike.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one on earth who can disconnect gameplay/what’s on screen. I know, tons of players can discuss games’ weapons for pages and pages, how they compare to real life ones etc. I am completely uninterested in that.

It’s an age thing to me. Of course, when I was in the single digits of my life I was kind of fascinated by Rambo and all those weapons in American movies that we didn’t have in Europe and France. Like, not at all. Besides shotguns for hunting, that’s all the real weapons I ever saw in my life there. I could go shoot some targets here in LA but I’ve never cared a second for that.

What’s fun in game to me is not “shooting a gun” it’s the “quick action to take down your opponent”. The fact that in Counter-Strike any weapon used by anyone can, with some luck, take down anyone. It’s exciting as hell. That’s excellent gameplay. I’m into the dance, how to be careful and how to take advantage of the environment (hiding in a difficult angle for the opponent to land his shot) or the cons of a weapon (the sniper has to reload, it takes time, he’s vulnerable).

Gameplay is not about guns.

The fact that so many ultra-realistic looking games are compared to real life is weird to me. It’s still a game y’all! Computer games are faking everything on screen. Nothing exists. Physics are tweaked so that it’s fun. Visual realism has people confused.

Guns are also supposed to be a part of masculinity, like loving cars. At least for us GenX and early Mills, that was definitely the case. You needed to know about those and sure enough, I know the difference between an AK47 and an AR-15 or a 4WD and a muscle car. Dudes’ shit, right? Culture and assimilation through time, are interesting processes.

Chris Remo, a game designer talks about bullet fatigue: “I remember a particularly potent experience playing one of the many Call of Duty games, and being totally overcome with ‘bullet fatigue.’ Particularly the audio. I suddenly found the constant sound of gunfire totally draining.

I think that’s very true. The sound violence is what makes me quit a Counter-Strike game too. We expose ourselves to hundreds, thousands of hours of gunfire and explosions, for fun. Our ears are not supposed to deal with that. He continues:

“The older I get,” he said, “the more profoundly uncomfortable I become with the almost overwhelming obsession with guns in entertainment culture broadly (…)”

It goes back to that pre-teen/teenager target, which always will be impressed by the punch, sound violence and quick action going on with guns and gun fights. I don’t think that will ever change. At that age you want to explore and see the limits of everything. And that’s a lucrative business.

People forget about one crucial thing in terms of game development: it’s “very easy” to debug a game about shooting targets. If bullet hits target then this, if not then that. It is way more complicated to debug something like The Sims because so many variables are flying around. That’s why a game series like Creatures didn’t go very far because raising, teaching, breeding virtual creatures is an insanely more complex thing to build and debug than Shooting Simulator 847. Even when said simulator looks like 4K pictures taken by a professional photographer somewhere in a war conflict in the real world.

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