Computer Games are a Gateway

To owning the real thing. Caleb takes quite a while to get to the point, but if you’re in a TL;DR mood (or computer gamer jargon grates on you), skip to the last paragraph, where he points out that realistic simulation of real guns are one way to get new blood into ownership of  the real thing.

18 Responses to “Computer Games are a Gateway”

  1. Patrick says:

    Wow, timely post. My wife and I were just debating this yesterday based on this last weekend’s events. We have mixed feelings.

    The setup: Last weekend we had four youth shooters. The oldest was 14 and immediately recognized an FN PS-90, IWI Tavor, AR-15 and several other arms. He knew all those guns (on sight) from Call of Duty.

    I have never played the game, but apparently it can be pretty realistic. The young man did have limited .410 shotgun experience with his father – an avid hunter who does not live with him – but he had never shot a rifle of any sort. Yet he knew the operation of those rifles – guns he had never seen in real-life – apparently from the game and the internet. He was a spot-on rifle shooter.

    Good or bad? I talked it over with the wife and we are not sure.

    It was kind of unnerving to have a 14 year old know so much by virtue of virtual shooting. We don’t have a problem with youthful shooters (we intro’d a six-year old that same day), but we remain nervous that the Internet is a horrible place to teach kids about guns. A really, really bad place. The youtube videos we gunnies laugh at could be viewed as gospel to a kid. Anyway, we agree it’s a “gateway”. But bad habits here can kill. Hence the misgiving.

    Quick Note: We don’t “intro” people using those guns. We use smaller training guns and let them work into other arms over time once they are comfortable. The rifles were for adults who already knew how to shoot.

    • Joe_in_Pitt says:

      Do you think he was spot-on with rifles, as you say, because of his time spent playing video games? I ask as someone who grew up with video games myself (and shot virtual guns well before my first real one). One day my father took me to the range when I was 15 to shoot his AR at 100 yards. As a LE firearms instructor at the time, he was pretty convinced that with no hunting or real shooting experience up to that point, it was the gaming that acclimated me to the skills needed to be a pretty good shot. Thankfully I made him proud a few years later earning my US Navy Expert Rifleman Medal. :)

      • Patrick says:

        I think I’d put this young man in the category of “naturally inclined” but add in a sprinkle of “knowledge enhanced by study”. Some prior exposure to a shotgun helped make him comfortable, but I don’t think it made him a “shooter”.

        I think it’s mostly natural capability. I’ve had mid-aged housewives who are literally afraid of a gun at the start of the day, end up shooting well enough to pass a qualification in under a few hours. I don’t credit the instructor with anything more than making it a safe and comfortable process. Some people just have the dexterity and control to shoot well, and once you get them over the head-fake their nature steps up. It’s the same reason some people will never win a shooting competition.

        I think the games made him comfortable with the guns, much like the wife and I work to make new shooters comfortable. After that, physical dexterity takes over and the teacher is just there to refine the details.

        • Ian Argent says:

          The games are (In my opinion and anecdotal experience) going to reveal aptitude but not develop skill for real-life firearms. FPS games require hand-eye coordination to excel at, but the specific muscle memories are not the same. To engage in some gamer cant of my own, they both require the same base stat, but the skills are not linked.

          The mental “support” skills for focusing are related however. I’d be a little surprised to see anyone who is good at one not at least have the capacity to get good at the other.

    • Archer says:

      I agree it can be unnerving to have a young teenager “know” so much about firearms. My brother was like that: Fully versed in firearms models and operations by age 14 or 15, all thanks to computer gaming.

      He enlisted in the Navy and earned a Master at Arms rating. To my knowledge, prior to enlisting he’d never actually fired anything more powerful than a rubber-band gun.

      So I can definitely understand your misgivings, but IMHO firearms trivia (dry knowledge with no experience or training) in itself is relatively harmless (to compare, I knew a 10-year-old who could see any car at any angle and tell you the make, model, and model year [within one or two years], but he’d never been behind the wheel). I’d be more worried if he were excessively gung-ho about guns and shooting and the over-eager attitude seemed likely to instill inattentive, sloppy, or unsafe handling practices.

      • Patrick says:

        I’d be more worried if he were excessively gung-ho about guns and shooting and the over-eager attitude seemed likely to instill inattentive, sloppy, or unsafe handling practices.

        I know the type and we have some friends with sons like this. We’ve politely responded that they are not yet ready to learn. Their parents agreed but wanted a second opinion from us. I think they were afraid they were being too hard on their kids. They weren’t.

        I’ll just say ADHD is real for these kids, and until they learn to control it they shouldn’t have sharp objects, let alone guns.

        * I am not a doctor and I am not generalizing to all ADHD people. Just this case…

    • Ian Argent says:

      If he was a spot-on rifle shooter, I’d say he didn’t learn bad habits…

      • Patrick says:

        This young man knew the four rules before starting (his father had a hand here) and followed them from the get-go. It’s always nice to see people working to make their kids safer around guns. Very respectful and never arrogant. He wanted to do well, but not impress.

  2. Brad says:

    On the plus side for video gaming, I’ve wondered whether the rise of home video gaming is a large component of the cause American crime rates have dropped since peak crime days.

    • BTR says:

      Since people are sitting on the couch instead of hanging out in the street looking for fun?

      • Ian Argent says:

        If you want to define “looking for trouble” as “looking for fun,” I suppose. Everyone’s got a theory, and they all start with Post Hoc, Propter Hoc.

  3. eric says:

    video games are the intro, its up to us to teach the next gen the foundations and shooting culture.

    also its one think to know the technical and basic operational details of a weapon, but its another to be tactically competent and effective.

    • Ian Argent says:

      Anecdotally, these MMO shooters have been said to raise the base level of small-unit-tactics in the recruits.

      The games I mostly play, the tactics are a little more stylized (generally PvE games, not PvP, so you work to the AI’s patterns), but the very basics of small unit tactics are still there. I do occasionally play PvP MMO FPS, but I don’t have the skills, so I’m not interesting in spending my free time to develop the skills.

      One interesting thing about the whole MMO FPS scene – you’re often playing “pick-up” games, so the chains of command are “fluid” to say the least. As they might be in, say, an insurrection.

  4. Pepin says:

    Videogames made a gearhead out of me. The increasingly accurate rendition of firearms in games made me fascinated in the intricate, metal-on-metal machinery of even the simplest bolt-action weapons.
    Now a collection of a dozen guns represents almost every popular action I know of, and I’ve never used these weapons for any purpose but moving dirt and punching holes in paper.

  5. Zermoid says:

    The opposite is also true, FPS is great when you want to go shooting but weather or ammo cost (or availability) is stopping you.

    COD or MOH are great substitutes if you can’t do the real thing.

  6. HSR47 says:

    This phenomenon is a big part of why I see the NFA going the way of the dodo within the next 50 years: Geeking out over the guns in these games leads to wanting to handle and use the genuine article. That in turn often leads to wanting to own the genuine article.

    We’re already closing in on mufflers; Short-barreled rifles/shotguns will probably be next, and with Hughes shortly thereafter (assuming it isn’t struck down by the courts first).

    At this point, anti-gun SCOTUS Justices are about the only thing likely to set us back. Given that the next president will likely see the replacement of 4 Justices (Scalia and Kennedy on the right side of the bench, Breyer and Ginsburg on the left side.), he or she will likely set the court’s tone on the Second Amendment for the next 20-40 years. In other words, regardless of how we feel about the candidates, we CANNOT afford to sit another presidential race out.

    • Ian Argent says:

      Anti-gun politicians (and voters) appear to be aging out of the process, and not being replaced. The Overton Window is moving – it used to be “we don’t want guns in ANYONE’s hands,” now it’s “we don’t want guns int he WRONG hands.”

      I can see silencers coming off NFA, and the difficulty in obtaining a permit for a SBR/SBS getting relaxed and the cost of the tax stamp lowered. Give it a few years, and push for a NICS check and immediate registration of a SBS/SBR – this is functionally the same as the current system except waiting time; you might even be able to call it “cost-cutting.”

      I don’t see Hughes as being vulnerable in the current courts; and a tougher sell in the legislatures. MGs are just scarier than SBS/SBR.

  7. Awelowynt says:

    Heck, that’s how I got into guns. I grew up with my Mother afraid of guns, but I played counter-strike as a kid. When I moved out, I started looking into real guns instead of virtual ones.