How the Video-Game Industry Already Lost Out in the Gun-Control Debate

Ian Bogost:

The actual use, function, or content of games never has a place in political discussions about games. Instead, games are cogs in someone’s favorite discourse machine. Not just negative ones like gun violence, but also apparently beneficial ones: a commitment to STEM education, a generic technological wherewithal, an empathy with the social practices younger voters, and so on. Whether for good or for ill, games become instruments in public debate rather than as mechanisms through which players can participate in a variety of activities—including reflecting on the very debates they now serve as puppets.

This is one of those things that’s so cynical, so profound and yet so obvious, that there has to be some truth behind it.

So while I think it’s encouraging that video games could have a place in the political discourse, I don’t think engaging in a gun control debate on the NRA’s terms is a good idea. At. All. For. Anyone. And like the article alludes to, by even dignifying the NRA’s with a rebuttal, the article, like this blog post, is allowing for the possibility that there is indeed a relationship between gun violence and video games.


But the thing that always kind of gets me is that there’s a certain amount of gun fetishization in any first person shooter. There’s customization in basically all modern FPSs, so you can have your very own special piece, with the thing in the stock, even. And guns are satisfying in video games; countless hours are poured into the muzzle flash, the bangs, the ejecting brass—do video games still have ejecting brass?—to ensure that the mere act of firing a gun in a video game is fun—you don’t even have to hit anything!

And then you had shit last year with EA partnering with weapons dealers to promote their latest pile of a manshoot, and I mean, I just, I don’t even. What?

So, okay, maybe the NRA is on to something. The games industry likes guns. Guns cause violence. Solution: fewer guns.