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January 31, 2013 9:21 PM   Subscribe

Shooters: How Video Games Fund Arms Manufacturers. An investigation into how real life weapons are licensed for videogames, and how those videogames market guns to young people, published by gaming news site Eurogamer.
posted by The Devil Tesla (82 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
I gotta say I've got a weird moral squeamishness about realistic war games. I will play all sorts of violent and sexist trash without much compunction. I'll run over innocent people in GTA and eviscerate them in Prototype and support the objectification of women in Bayonetta. But the idea of realistic war games made with the help of the US Army, Ollie North, and actual arms manufacturers and mercenary groups disgusts me. These are the murder simulators - these are what is selling combat to kids, and what inspires me, in my darkest moments, to think of joining the army and being a drone pilot. By removing even the thin justification of fantasy they reveal how ugly everything really is.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:25 PM on January 31, 2013 [21 favorites]


"Follow the money." If it's wrong, follow the money. If it's evil, follow the money. If it's immoral, follow the money. If it's fattening, follow the money. If it's addictive, follow the money. If it's profitable, follow the money. If it creates power, follow the money.

I'm seeing a trend.
posted by HuronBob at 9:34 PM on January 31, 2013 [25 favorites]


And, disturbingly, I find that reading this I know about the various calibers of ammunition from playing Fallout: New Vegas. And I know a bit about guns from Goldeneye, and the only time I handled a gun I almost hit the bullseye and I attributed that to videogames. In fact, typing this makes me want to go home and fill some polygons with imaginary lead.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:37 PM on January 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


I find it kind of amusing that the developers of Call of Duty are restricted by licensing agreements similar to the ones that restrict the folks that make Gran Turismo.
posted by HostBryan at 9:43 PM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Call of Duty series is one reason why we will not be getting anXBox in our household, even though most boys now from age 12-up socialize on Saturday nights by playing that game online with a headset.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:44 PM on January 31, 2013


This seems a bit aluminum-foil-hattish. There isn't anything surreptitious going on here, and it isn't really any kind of deep evil plot. Mr. Barrett isn't rubbing his hands and cackling in glee.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:49 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


This seems a bit aluminum-foil-hattish. There isn't anything surreptitious going on here, and it isn't really any kind of deep evil plot. Mr. Barrett isn't rubbing his hands and cackling in glee.

No, it's a perfectly reasonable business arrangement and I find that more worrisome.
posted by HostBryan at 9:53 PM on January 31, 2013 [16 favorites]



"I have six pellet and BB guns," says Aidin Smith, a 13 year-old resident of Springfield, Illinois. "These include two BB guns, modelled on the M14 rifle and M1911 pistol, and two pellet guns, modelled on the AK-47 and M16. I also own an M14 BB rifle M1911 BB pistol. And I got an AK-47 rifle, M16 rifle.

"My favorite is the M1911. I shot a real M1911 when I lived in the country. I shot with my Grandpa. I love the action on it, it is like a real M1911, it recoils and springs back like a real gun. All of them are ones that are in Call of Duty. I like guns more because of Call of Duty. The M1911 is a pistol in almost in every Call of Duty."

Last year Smith took one of his BB guns to school. A teacher discovered it in his rucksack, along with a bag of ammunition and a folding knife.

"It was a Monday and I was coming [to school] from my grandpa's," Smith says. "We had gone to the target range. I accidentally left a gun in my book bag. I forgot about it and took it to school. I don't know how they found it."

His family doesn't buy the story. They believe he took the weapon in to show off to another classmate, who alerted a teacher. "It was peer pressure," says his grandfather, Mark Smith. Aidin was expelled from school for 30 days and transferred elsewhere after the summer.

"He had been exposed to Call of Duty through church friends of his," says Mark. "We gave into that because he was always playing at a friend's house. I've talked to Aidin about what's real and what's not. Plus, I took him to a gun range and showed him what the real thing can do. I told him never to point a gun at a real person and that no one gets an extra life if you shoot them."

But Aidin's enthusiasm for firearms has not been dulled by the experience. "The M16 has been in several Call of Duties," he says. "I got more interested in these guns from playing Call of Duty, it's fun to play them in a game... It's a lot easier to shoot in a game than in real life. My favourite gun is the MSR. It's a modified sniper rifle made by Remington firearms and it shoots a 338 Lapua round. It's a really nice, accurate, sniper rifle. It rarely misses a shot.

"I think once I get old enough, I'd like to own the real things."

posted by KokuRyu at 9:54 PM on January 31, 2013


The Call of Duty series is one reason why we will not be getting anXBox in our household, even though most boys now from age 12-up socialize on Saturday nights by playing that game online with a headset.

Don't through the baby out with the bathwater. Your kids will learn socialization and social bonding and teamwork and cooperation through the games, like I did with Goldeneye.

I'll leave this comment from Eurogamer here:

The elephant in the room here, though, is that they CAN go out and buy those weapons. I can honestly say, hand on heart, I've never come away from a game thinking "man I'd like one of them guns there". Because, well, guns are things I see in museums like the Royal Armouries, not down the road in a "hunting" store.

The first step to controlling gun violence is controlling guns and ammunition. The culture around the guns needs tackling after, not before. .


Eurogamer is a British site, so they have a certain perspective on this that American sites may not.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:54 PM on January 31, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'll admit I feel sort of weird whenever I see a movie with my wife and I can identify the model of weapon the terrorists or whatever are using because I spent a long time saving up to buy one in a video game.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:16 PM on January 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah, not American here, and the American perspective on guns is bewildering. Doesn't make any sense.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:16 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that by the end there licensing was the only thing keeping Atlas and S&S afloat.

I miss S&S...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:18 PM on January 31, 2013


You can't pass laws without changing culture enough to get votes on your side. Reducing gun violence requires changing gun culture and vice versa.
posted by LogicalDash at 10:25 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


You want to know what's really weird? Seeing real journalism from a games site. +1 Eurogamer!
posted by JHarris at 10:30 PM on January 31, 2013 [24 favorites]


I don't understand why cultural criticism of video games leaves out the violent games that the NRA publishes on mobile game platforms, which are made available to four-year-olds and up. This is such a glaring hole in the public discussion that I can't help but find the media complicit in avoiding any mention of this fact.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:30 PM on January 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh they had a 'look at the lunatics' sort of article in the paper here, BP, when the NRA released a shooty video game shortly after decrying shooty video games... but I don't know if that counts as cultural criticism.
posted by pompomtom at 10:42 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the upshot of all this is that I'll be able to have my own Zero Point Gravity Gun in the not too distant future, I'm all the fuck for it.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:46 PM on January 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


"The general rule is that you can use the model delineation but you can't use its proper name manufacturer name without prior permission." Why?

Trademarks, I'd assume, but as the article mentions novelists don't need to get a license. Can someone explain why game developers do?
posted by dragoon at 10:48 PM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


KokuRyu: Yeah, not American here, and the American perspective on guns is bewildering. Doesn't make any sense.

Well, they're enshrined right there in the Bill of Rights, a document everyone either loves or pretends to love. So there's that. General citizen ownership of guns had a lot to do with how the revolutionary war happened, or at least that's how it's often taught. And up until fairly recently, nobody really questioned gun ownership here. Especially in rural areas, guns were really common and totally unquestioned. Hunting is very common in all social groups in the less urban states; most of my friends would quality as being super liberal, yet at least half of them own guns and the majority of the gun-owners hunt.

I'm not trying to justify the attitude, of course, but there's a lot of history there, so it's not really surprising. Most of the problem now is that the Republican party has turned it into an identity issue, so real progress is impossible, and they're really stirring up the crazies.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:51 PM on January 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


Mr. Barrett isn't rubbing his hands and cackling in glee.

None of the better bad guys do. They just shrug a bit, then fuck off in their private jets for a few rounds of golf.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:12 PM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


The article talks about the flow of money as if it were bad, but... would it really be better if any money was flowing the other way, ie. if arms manufacturers were paying videogame manufacturers to glorify their wares?

What is being described is the opposite of the cigarette candy example, and the opposite of product placement and advertising. The only thing that [manufacturers paying marketers to raise the profile of their wares] has in common [with audiences demanding access to depictions of those wares], is that both ways people have access to fantasy imitations of the wares.

Right now, that flow of money is the only incentive against marketing their guns.
posted by anonymisc at 11:12 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel like, for every frag a kid gets in an FPS game, they should have to do like a month of First Person Physical Therapy for the chest-wound they just caused.

Or, play through a First Person Panic Attack Simulator, where the character is a vet who gets chest pains, and freaks out at his crappy food service job. You've got to hide out in the walk-in freezer until your wife shows up with the meds to take you home.

Or, play two hours a week of First Person Group Grievance Counseling Session, where you're a widow who has to suffer through a bald widower trying to flirt with you while you pour yourself another cup of the worst coffee you've ever had in your life. (Anyone who's ever seen a 12-step meeting knows that Marlborough would be able to score some licensing money here, too.)

Or, read 100 pages of a First Person History of Warfare Doorstop Simulator: Chapter 10 -- Pike and Shot

Any of those before you're able to continue playing the game. Basically, make using a gun seem like a super drag.
posted by wormwood23 at 11:12 PM on January 31, 2013 [15 favorites]


I know a bit about guns from Goldeneye

According to the article, no you do not. Many of Goldeneye's weapons were deliberately stripped of their brand names. The "Klobb" was renamed in honour of Goldeneye producer Ken Lobb. Its real world equivalent (the Skorpion VZ/61) can't possibly be as terrible as it is in-game.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:18 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


and the only time I handled a gun I almost hit the bullseye and I attributed that to videogames.

I had the chance to fire actual assault rifles and machine guns during army service. It's a lot of fun, but my gaming experience had prepared me very poorly for it. For a more realistic simulation you need to strap several pieces of crap around your body (can't go around killing people without toothbrush, toothpaste and an extra pair of socks in a fanny pack), lie down on the floor, move the screen about 50 meters away and get a friend to kick you in the shoulder every time you press the fire button.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:19 PM on January 31, 2013 [17 favorites]


I would much prefer that people pay arms manufacturers for pretend guns.
posted by empath at 11:28 PM on January 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


I feel like kids should have moral-killjoy free fun, myself.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:47 PM on January 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


What is it about guns? Is it like tattoos - you start with one, and then you're addicted? I've never even seen one in real life and I'm 40.
posted by colie at 11:54 PM on January 31, 2013


related link: Receiver, a game where the guns are modelled as completely and accurately as possible, to demonstrate how the typical video game experience has very very little to do with firing an actual gun.

E.g., to reload, instead of simply hitting R, you have to take the magazine out of the gun, holster the gun (because you need two hands to load a magazine), load the rounds into the magazine, take the gun back out, slot the magazine into the gun, and pull the slide to chamber a round.
posted by rifflesby at 12:17 AM on February 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


What is it about guns? Is it like tattoos - you start with one, and then you're addicted? I've never even seen one in real life and I'm 40.

If you live rurally, they're owned as tools that you (or someone around you) will need. If you live urban, they're owned as weapons or wank or sportsgear or all of the above. (All of the above can apply to rural too, but tools doesn't apply to the city)

If you're American, then I'm going to predict from your statement that you live in the city :)
posted by anonymisc at 12:23 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Trademarks, I'd assume, but as the article mentions novelists don't need to get a license. Can someone explain why game developers do?

Yeah, they don't mention the specific IP licensing scheme, but it's most likely trademarks.

Typically, a licensee pays between 5 per cent to 10 per cent retail price for the agreement. But we could negotiate on that."

Hilarious. That's a salesman right there. Hint to video game developers: don't pay 10%.

Right now, that flow of money is the only incentive against marketing their guns.

You're right, this should act as a negative incentive against using real gun brand names. That's good. But there's another disturbing section later:

"We want to know explicitly how the rifle is to be used, ensuring that we are shown in a positive light... Such as the 'good guys' using the rifle," says Vaughn. His company insists that its gun isn't "used by individuals, organisations, countries or companies that would be shown as enemies of the United States or its citizens." Ideally, Vaughn says, Barrett's gun will only be used "by US law enforcement or US military".

Propaganda. No other real name for it. It may not be a government performing it, but it's still propaganda.

I almost hate to say this. But here's yet another reason to drastically reform the current Intellectual Property regime.
posted by formless at 12:27 AM on February 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


These are the murder simulators - these are what is selling combat to kids

No, they aren't. These are video games with ESRB ratings.

Movies, TV, video games, books, radio, all forms of media that have romanticized or demonized violence at times. The idea that you can learn how to murder someone from any of the fictional stories and interactions is ridiculous.

The most violent games have ratings which suggest they are only for adults. It is up to parents to ensure that their children are prepared for the content that they consume or prevent the children from experiencing it in the first place.

I own video games and firearms. The experience of firing real guns is completely different from anything in any game that I've ever played. Even Receiver (as mentioned above), which at least goes to the trouble of adding back some complexities most games remove is still completely removed from the actual experience.

You could probably make a game that more accurately simulates the entire experience, but then it wouldn't be fun. If it isn't fun it probably won't be something that younger gamers are interested in at all.
posted by TimeDoctor at 1:03 AM on February 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


The most violent games have ratings which suggest they are only for adults. It is up to parents to ensure that their children are prepared for the content that they consume or prevent the children from experiencing it in the first place.

I think this is understating the situation. Retailers will not sell these games to kids, and at ~$60 a game, kids do not have the money to purchase the games even if they could. The only way that kids get to play these games is through a parent's blessing and action.

(Parents being ground down by the whining and finally giving in still counts as blessing.)
posted by anonymisc at 1:48 AM on February 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I feel like kids should have moral-killjoy free fun, myself.

Yeah, I feel like kids should be able to have fun while enjoying freedom from being killed.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:01 AM on February 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Round x in the NRA's attempt to send the attention everywhere apart from the things that shot and kill people...

Kids play the same games all over the world. Yet there are less shootings somehow.

The kid talking about the BB guns was interesting. It's an old trick, you talk to enough people until you get the news copy you want. The kid is a bit too keen and too young too know better. Of course a thirteen year old should probably not be playing COD. Frankly no one should be.

In High school I had a friend who was half Japanese. Brought back a bunch of catalogues once of all the plastic BB pellet toy guns you could buy in Japan. Even got a couple into the country somehow. God how we obsessed about them. Still a lot less or even no mass shootings in Japan or Australia in recentish times.

As I've mentioned in previous threads I've grown up around firearms, and frankly have no particular problem with them in the context of tools for land management or recreational hunting. Talking to my mum just after Christmas she mentioned that the police had been around recently to check that my dad was storing his guns properly. As in secured in lockers with other critical parts of the weapon stored elsewhere.

This is not a hard problem. It's not even a solved problem - it's like 1960's Russian Genetics. We are just sitting here on deck chairs, being slightly confused.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 4:04 AM on February 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't understand why cultural criticism of video games leaves out the violent games that the NRA publishes on mobile game platforms, which are made available to four-year-olds and up.

Cite?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:12 AM on February 1, 2013


If you're American, then I'm going to predict from your statement that you live in the city :)

I'm in England. I guess I just feel a bit left out of discussions about guns round here.
posted by colie at 4:39 AM on February 1, 2013


Cite?

About halfway down CNN mentions how the game was originally rated 4+ years, thouh they've bumped it up to 12+ now. Also, the only thing you shoot in the game (apparently,) are target, for what that's worth.
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:39 AM on February 1, 2013


And suddenly that one thirteen year old speaks for all? Suddenly every thirteen year old is a gun nut lasciviously slobbering over assault weapons?
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 4:50 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Round x in the NRA's attempt to send the attention everywhere apart from the things that shot and kill people...

I don't like the NRA any more than you do but I somehow doubt they've paid off a British gaming site. And one that consistently goes against industry trends by rating niche games higher than AAA titles. They're one of the few reputable gaming sites and they share some writers with Rock Paper Shotgun, the other legit site.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:54 AM on February 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


You could probably make a game that more accurately simulates the entire experience, but then it wouldn't be fun.

Guard unveils virtual-reality training system:

"The Pennsylvania National Guard has taken first-person-shooter video games to a new level.

"The Guard this week unveiled its new Dismounted Soldier Training System, or DSTS, at Fort Indiantown Gap. The virtual-reality training device allows a squad of soldiers - up to nine - to be simultaneously immersed in a digital combat environment where they can train on different scenarios in different terrain.

...

""The intent of simulators is to provide a practice round before they do the live event.""
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:55 AM on February 1, 2013


Ban all guns. Christ how simple can it be?
posted by marienbad at 5:00 AM on February 1, 2013


marienbad, I don't think that's really an option, because some people a few hundred years ago in a completely different world might have told us not to.
posted by forgetful snow at 5:06 AM on February 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Personally. I love Eurogamer.

I'm also pretty sure if the Queen of england turned up here and tried to throw her weight around...

She's tried that, that's what we call the latter part of the 20ct
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 5:09 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


ban all guns. Christ how simple can it be?
posted by marienbad at 5:00 AM on February 1 [+] [!]


An outrage. My Father holds important pieces. Simply control them.




Serioulsy it is really not that hard
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 5:14 AM on February 1, 2013


I feel like, for every frag a kid gets in an FPS game, they should have to do like a month of First Person Physical Therapy for the chest-wound they just caused.

Maybe ironically, the closest you can get to something like that is probably that Team America: Fuck Yeah! or whatever the Official US Army FPS is called now. At least back not long after it was first released, I loaded it up...

It started with a long lecture from an NCO, IIRC some sort of quiz, and then a while on the firing range before you were allowed to do anything "fun."

Then, once the FPS proper started, it consisted almost entirely of "You have shot a squadmate. You are a menace to all around you. Go back to the firing range and think about what you have done" and "You have been shot. You are dead. Remember to use cover in your next life. Also go back to the firing range and think about what you have done."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:31 AM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you live rurally, they're owned as tools that you (or someone around you) will need.

Like my asshole dad, for instance, who "needed" his "tool" to brandish angrily at his neighbors whenever they had trees with limbs growing slightly over his fence line. You know. Critically important stuff like that.

I was raised in Bayou George Florida (thankfully by my decent grandparents and not my sociopathic dad), lived in the woods with dirt roads and no cable until I was a senior in high school. And this is BS, from my POV. You don't even really need guns if you live rurally. They might be nice to have for the occasional turkey shoot or hunting trip. But it's not really about need. And the way so many people use them and parade around in them trying to look and feel like "Real Men" in no way involves using a gun as a "tool."
posted by saulgoodman at 6:01 AM on February 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


I don't understand why cultural criticism of video games leaves out the violent games that the NRA publishes on mobile game platforms,

Do you mean the one game they released for iOS? The one that simulates shooting at paper targets on a simulated shooting range? If that's what qualifies as a "violent game", then I've got some stuff to show you ... as soon as I figure out where I put my NES and the Zapper and the cart for Duck Hunt.

I don't like the looks of that game, but only because it looks really, really boring. There's no controversy because there's nothing controversial there.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:17 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe: Maybe ironically, the closest you can get to something like that is probably that Team America: Fuck Yeah! or whatever the Official US Army FPS is called now. At least back not long after it was first released, I loaded it up...

It started with a long lecture from an NCO, IIRC some sort of quiz, and then a while on the firing range before you were allowed to do anything "fun."

Then, once the FPS proper started, it consisted almost entirely of "You have shot a squadmate. You are a menace to all around you. Go back to the firing range and think about what you have done" and "You have been shot. You are dead. Remember to use cover in your next life. Also go back to the firing range and think about what you have done."


Hah, I remember that game. It was like a less approachable version of Counter-strike, which is already one of the least approachable games of all time. It was also entry #1 in the list of reasons why not to give grenades realistic damage. Most of the game boiled down to memorizing the maps and predicting where the enemy team should be, and throwing out random grenades at appropriate times in hopes of killing the entire enemy team.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:20 AM on February 1, 2013


I do know a very small number of people who shoot animals for actual food, and this is not merely a luxury lifestyle component of their diet. But raising one's own domesticated animals for food seems more common than hunting for food in the rural areas that I've lived in. (Fishing for food seems more common as well, at least in coastal areas, but that doesn't require firearms.)

On a note of clarification, the US Constitution gives citizens the right to form well-regulated militias (as in, separate from the official national army). It doesn't say anything about personal gun ownership.
posted by eviemath at 6:23 AM on February 1, 2013


On a note of clarification, the US Constitution gives citizens the right to form well-regulated militias (as in, separate from the official national army). It doesn't say anything about personal gun ownership.

That's your interpretation. The Supreme Court disagrees. If we're talking about what laws will actually get passed, enforced, and upheld, your interpretation matters very little.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:25 AM on February 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't through the baby out with the bathwater. Your kids will learn socialization and social bonding and teamwork and cooperation through the games, like I did with Goldeneye.

If a parent doesn't want their kid playing video games, then their kids shouldn't play video games. There are better ways to learn socialization, social bonding and teamwork that don't require murdering imaginary digital Russians, or Nazis or what have you.

And up until fairly recently, nobody really questioned gun ownership here. Especially in rural areas, guns were really common and totally unquestioned.

Guns may be really common in rural areas but that's not where most of the people live in the U.S., so it doesn't follow that "nobody" questioned gun ownership simply because people who live miles from anything or anyone don't question their "right" to own an arsenal. Plenty of people have questioned gun ownership for years, discussion was just off the table thanks to the moneyed interests that control Congress.
posted by IvoShandor at 6:43 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's your interpretation. The Supreme Court disagrees. If we're talking about what laws will actually get passed, enforced, and upheld, your interpretation matters very little.

The large body of case law since the Bill of Rights was enacted supports (regulated) private gun ownership and storage, and that is what counts in the US, yes. But knowing that the Second Amendment itself only guarantees the right to bear arms, not to privately own or store them, is a fun little tidbit of information to have on hand when talking to folks who like to think of themselves as Constitutional fundamentalists and who rail against "activist judges" and such.
posted by eviemath at 6:44 AM on February 1, 2013


The Marketing Tactics of Firearm Manufacturers seems relevant here.
posted by eviemath at 6:45 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's your interpretation. The Supreme Court disagrees. If we're talking about what laws will actually get passed, enforced, and upheld, your interpretation matters very little.

Interpretation vs. basic reading comprehension... It's a blurry line these days, when there's money at stake, to be sure.

I think the salient point is that the constitution clearly doesn't mention anything about a right to keep and bear arms in order to hunt for food or threaten your neighbors over minor grievances.

We've been wrong all along. It's the "conservatives" that have gone all whack-a-do PoMo on us.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:51 AM on February 1, 2013


A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

I am not super fond of American gun culture or the NRA, but the word "keep" is clearly in there.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:52 AM on February 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah, my mistake, that definitely does say keep. Although, in a face-saving effort, I will note that it refers to the collective "people" and thus does not explicitly refer to private ownership or storage. We can all still have fun with people who want to get rid of 200+ years of US case law but don't know the actual text of the Bill of Rights any better than me:P
posted by eviemath at 6:57 AM on February 1, 2013


And there's that whole bit at the beginning explaining that the whole justification for the right is that we need a well-regulated militia to fend off foreign invaders (you know, because we didn't have a standing army and needed some way to defend the country against outside invasion). But of course, that's just my interpretation of the words written there (a.k.a. reading) that makes me think that.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:03 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Violence and the modern military shooter genre has been covered a lot by game journalists and ludologists:

Errant Signal's take on violence in 3D spaces

A People's History of the FPS Part 1, 2, 3

Hotline Miami, Spec Ops, E3 Part 1, 2
posted by dubusadus at 7:05 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was 13, I knew quite a bit more about guns than the kid featured in the article, and that was years and years before Call of Duty. I'd been able to actually shoot quite a few, got old copies of Shotgun News from one of my teachers, and could check out the latest copy of "Gun Digest" from my junior high school library.

Don't blame it all on games - blame it on smart kids with access to resources.
posted by mrbill at 7:13 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not making any claims about what the correct interpretation should be, just pointing out that Heller is the law of the land and thus any gun control discussion has to be had with that in mind. Right now, the Second Amendment does, as a factual matter, guarantee a personal right to own firearms unconnected with service in a militia for traditional purposes including hunting and self-defense.

You can disagree, but it's like when conservatives disagree about whether or not the First Amendment requires separation of church and state; it doesn't actually matter in a real world court of law.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:17 AM on February 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Who didn't know this would lead to a discussion of the second ammendment?
posted by notreally at 7:19 AM on February 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I gave up after UT's Operation Overlord. Once you're in a tower with a scope-sighted rifle, sniping people trying to get to the beach, where else is there to go?
posted by mikelieman at 7:24 AM on February 1, 2013


And there's that whole bit at the beginning explaining that the whole justification for the right is that we need a well-regulated militia to fend off foreign invaders

I thought it was actually at least in part about limiting the power of the federal government domestically? I may be conflating stuff I learned about the whole general context of that time period from my history classes with what's actually written in the Bill of Rights/Constitution.

I'm not making any claims about what the correct interpretation should be, just pointing out that Heller is the law of the land and thus any gun control discussion has to be had with that in mind. Right now, the Second Amendment does, as a factual matter, guarantee a personal right to own firearms unconnected with service in a militia for traditional purposes including hunting and self-defense.

Absolutely; for any reasonable person, this is factually equivalent. It matters when it becomes a major talking point in the regulatory debate, however. (But on that thought, maybe I should start talking about my right to reproductive choice being part of a Constitutionally-guaranteed right to privacy, rather than a consequence of Roe v. Wade.)

Who didn't know this would lead to a discussion of the second ammendment?

Sorry, yeah, it is kind of a derail. Don't buy war toys.
posted by eviemath at 7:26 AM on February 1, 2013


As I understood it, though, the original point, Bulgaroktonos, was about the meaning of the right as incorporated in the language of the constitution, not about the current state of the law. I, too, am not really making a claim about what ought to be.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:26 AM on February 1, 2013


That's your interpretation. The Supreme Court disagrees. If we're talking about what laws will actually get passed, enforced, and upheld, your interpretation matters very little.
[...]
I'm not making any claims about what the correct interpretation should be, just pointing out that Heller is the law of the land and thus any gun control discussion has to be had with that in mind. Right now, the Second Amendment does, as a factual matter, guarantee a personal right to own firearms unconnected with service in a militia for traditional purposes including hunting and self-defense.


I am not super fond of American gun culture or the NRA, but the word "keep" is clearly in there.

From Heller:
Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:28 AM on February 1, 2013


I thought it was actually at least in part about limiting the power of the federal government domestically?

No, that's why people didn't want a permanent standing army, not why we needed a right to bear arms, except indirectly because the lack of a standing army would have left us exposed to foreign invaders.

Sedition was not something we really tolerated in the past. One of the very first battles fought in the US after the revolution was the Whiskey Rebellion, in which George Washington put down a rebellion by a bunch of tax dodgers.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:29 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I think the topic of conflation of collective vs individual rights in US political discourse is an interesting and worthwhile one, though... if not exactly relevant to the present thread. It's tied in a bit with conflation of property rights with civil liberties. Anyway, I'll drop the topic now.)
posted by eviemath at 7:30 AM on February 1, 2013


As soon as I read the title, I knew this was going to be a Simon Parkin piece. When so much games journalism involves reproducing press releases either textual or verbal (or, recently, providing in-depth analysis of how much merch you can fit in your house), it's good that people like Parkin are doing this kind of stepping-back.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:37 AM on February 1, 2013


No, that's why people didn't want a permanent standing army, not why we needed a right to bear arms, except indirectly because the lack of a standing army would have left us exposed to foreign invaders.

It seems to me that not wanting a permanent standing army would more logically lead to some regulations or directions on forming local militias, regulations around conscription, etc.; not so much the right to (collectively) keep and bear arms. I was taught at least that the Second Amendment was more a response to the British having tried to confiscate firearms and limit gun ownership and use by colonists when tensions were heating up in the lead-up to the US Revolutionary War. But I am not a historical scholar. Even if invalid, it seems that the story I was taught about the purpose of the Second Amendment is a common one. You certainly hear echoes of this in arguments for gun ownership for personal protection (filtered through the above-mentioned conflation of collective with individual rights).

Sedition was not something we really tolerated in the past.

Yeah, the US has always been of two minds on this issue: on the one hand glorifying a revolutionary origin story, but on the other hand excluding various later revolutionary groups as invalid or non-American. One might argue that the whole idea of pulling the ladder up after yourself and then claiming to have pulled yourself up by your bootstraps is fundamentally American.
posted by eviemath at 7:41 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The very first use of state militias in the United States was to put down the tax rebellion in the Whiskey Rebellion.

We actually did have well-regulated state militias once, but the regulations were deferred to the state level under Federalism (and the national guard are the remains of the old militia system, now under joint Federal and state authority).

Ironically, the very same right that made it possible to put down our first tax rebellion is now being used to further the aims of those stoking the current tax revolt.

And all the "Patriots" and "Republicans" out there have taken the side of the rebels.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:47 AM on February 1, 2013


Yeah, I feel like kids should be able to have fun while enjoying freedom from being killed.

Because if video games with guns weren't fun, then no kids would be killed?
posted by cosmic.osmo at 8:19 AM on February 1, 2013


Won't somebody, please, blame the children!
posted by forgetful snow at 8:35 AM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do you mean the one game they released for iOS? The one that simulates shooting at paper targets on a simulated shooting range? If that's what qualifies as a "violent game", then I've got some stuff to show you

It's okay for four-year-olds to shoot at pixelated paper versions of people, but not to allow teens or adults to shoot at pixelated cartoon versions of people. That's how much of a strong hold the NRA has over the discussion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:12 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I gotta say I've got a weird moral squeamishness about realistic war games. I will play all sorts of violent and sexist trash without much compunction. I'll run over innocent people in GTA and eviscerate them in Prototype and support the objectification of women in Bayonetta. But the idea of realistic war games made with the help of the US Army, Ollie North, and actual arms manufacturers and mercenary groups disgusts me. These are the murder simulators - these are what is selling combat to kids, and what inspires me, in my darkest moments, to think of joining the army and being a drone pilot. By removing even the thin justification of fantasy they reveal how ugly everything really is.

For me, video games without realism are more the issue. I'd way rather kids play something like America's Army, because despite revealing how ugly everything really is at least the violence is shown to have consequence, both for the 'enemy' and for the player's avatar. I don't see how that's any worse than the sort of warrior archetype surviving cartoon-like human wave attacks that most video games represent. Those who can't separate fantasy from reality are going to fall into traps in life no matter how much we try to restrict their access to simulated violence, but the flaws are built into their psychology more than they are our environment.

But I felt this way about Saturday morning cartoon violence vs. R rated movies when I was a kid too. I actually think the first is worse because there's an insulation from consequence.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:37 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


That explains why I buy so many crates.
posted by CarlRossi at 9:45 AM on February 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


A deer too - after all, this sniper rifle was originally designed for hunting. In fact, its bullets are propelled with enough force to kill a deer standing behind a concrete wall 2000 metres away.

This seems particularly useful for the nascent sport of "Zoo Hunting."
posted by cacofonie at 10:10 AM on February 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


For me, video games without realism are more the issue.

For me, realism one way or the other isn't much of an issue as long as it's fiction. Making fun out of actual WW2 battles for example makes me uncomfortable - like targeting the Aurora movie theater massacre site as a hot place to have sex or something. But those games are phenomenally popular, so the feeling presumably isn't widespread.
posted by anonymisc at 10:51 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting that the article discusses BB guns. Airsoft replicas of real firearms, modeled down to the smallest possible detail, are huge in Japan. (A whole subset of otaku is devoted to collecting those replicas and obsessively learning about the real firearms, which they can only shoot at firing ranges.) It's a common enough hobby that it's parodied in popular manga and anime.

And yet, in spite of a strong firearm obsession, Japan doesn't have the epidemic of mass shootings America does. What could the difference could be? *taps finger on chin*

In other shocking news: M-rated Call of Duty games not suitable for 13-year-olds. If only it said as much, say, on the boxes of those very games ...
posted by Amanojaku at 11:10 AM on February 1, 2013


I will note that it refers to the collective "people" and thus does not explicitly refer to private ownership or storage.

Apply that same logic to the other Amendments, particularly the First and Fourth which use "the people" in the same way, and I don't think you'll be happy with the results. Or at least I'd hope not.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:44 PM on February 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Considering the staggering _decrease_ in youth violence in the U.S. over the last decade or so, as these games have become more realistic and pervasive, one could posit that violent games save lives.

Perhaps it's a form of cathartic release? Perhaps kids predisposed to violence are spending time on XBox Live and not outside causing actual trouble? I don't know. Maybe it's unrelated. I certainly wouldn't participate in the creation of video games featuring violence if I thought they were doing social harm.

(As to the gun licensing thing, it's just, yeah, the same thing as racing games. If you're going for realism, you're going for realism. I'm not nor have ever been privy to any such licensing deals, but 5-10% for an AAA title sounds laugh-out-loud ludicrous. That's probably for a pretty low-budget game.) I'll stay out of the perpetual actual-gun ownership debate.
posted by blenderfish at 12:43 AM on February 2, 2013


Interesting that the article discusses BB guns.

That's an interesting thing - airsoft guns are sold in similar distribution channels to video games (i.e. they are not subject to the limits on where they can be sold that firearms are), but have existing licensing relationships with makers of real guns - so it makes a lot of sense for that to be the communications membrane - and also allows gun makers not to be in direct communication with video game creators.

That was part of the problem with Medal of Honor: Warfighter, I think, which provided links to the online stores of makers of actual guns - entirely legal, but just a little too close for comfort in marketing terms. Especially because the kinds of weapons used militarily for sniping and sold to civilians for hunting are often marketed as "the operative's choice", "made by operatives for operatives" and so on)

Something Parkin doesn't go into, but I guess could be interesting, is that Cybergun owns half the games studio Online Warmongers Inc, and thus their game "War Inc. Battlezone". Which was originally going to be called "The War Inc". Battlezone is also the brand name of Cybergun's Airsoft version of a shooting range. And there is a corporate and technical link between "War Inc Battlezone" and "The War Z" (previously) - for use of the trademark of which on airsoft guns Cybergun has also applied.

So, there are some interesting strings there. More here.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:30 AM on February 2, 2013


Real guns vs. virtual guns
posted by homunculus at 2:17 PM on February 9, 2013


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