Amy Kalson hates bugs, sunburns and cooked bell peppers. She loves dogs, tea and books. And now she can add one more thing to her love list: guns. Real ones. Amy’s a video game designer who until recently had never picked up anything that shoots without the aid of an Xbox controller. And she seems to feel pretty sheepish about it, pleading to her fellow game developers not to “throw rocks at my head” when they find out…

There are a million stories in the naked city. And each gun convert seems to have his or her own unique one. The Armed Intelligentsia, of course, welcomes them all with open arms.

Kalson actually credits video games for her firearms (the real ones) introduction. As well has her accuracy. And she’s had a revelation.

Fifteen years ago I was giving money to anti-gun groups, and now I am a gun owner with a membership to the local firing range.

The video games made me do it.

Let me be crystal clear about this: SHOOTING GUNS IN REAL LIFE IS NOT THE SAME AS SHOOTING VIRTUAL GUNS.

OK, so maybe that last part won’t surprise many readers here, but you can see how a game-designing gun newb might be struck by that fact.

I loved it almost instantly. It wasn’t the feeling of power or the knowledge that I was using a deadly weapon that I liked. It was the concentration and precision – the stillness it took to line up the sights, relax, and squeeze the trigger. It was much more zen and stress-relieving than I ever expected it to be. Guns demand your attention. You cannot think about anything else when you hold one in your hand. I loved the way my mind would go completely quiet while shooting. Also, the gun went boom and blew a hole in something, and that was satisfying, in the same way popping bubble wrap is.

Kalson credits her off-the-bat accuracy to hand-eye coordination she believes she developed through gaming. To test her hypothesis, she took up archery – another new pursuit for her – and hit the bulls eye there, too. So to speak.

And despite her former anti-gun stance, Kalson’s new appreciation for firearm fun has given her some insight into the relationship between video games and the real world. To wit: games don’t make you a killer. They might foster an interest in real guns. And they may develop skills with real world application. But as Kalson concluded, playing games like Call of Duty no more result in violent behavior than watching Star Trek results in increased space travel.

This is also a great example for you kids out there. It’s pretty darned easy to convert a hoplophobe. All it can take is a range visit with an accommodating friend who shoots. Namely you. So let’s give Ms. Kalson a rousing Armed Intelligentsia welcome to gun ownership and the fun of shooting. Thanks, Amy, for spreading the word. We can’t wait to read about the person whose mind you change with a trip to the range.

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14 Responses to Video Games Get Designer to Shoot. For Realz.

  1. We sneer at the legions of Counterstrike kiddies who come to the range to shoot an MP-5 just like they do online, but the fundamental truth is there are literally MILLIONS of kids out there who can rattle off the specs of the M1 Garand because of Call of Duty or know how to slice the pie because of the hours and hours they spent playing video games.

    These kids aren’t afraid of guns. They don’t see guns as the sources of all evil in the world. They grew up watching Mythbusters show them what can and can’t be done with guns. And now, as they reach the age where they can own guns and afford to buy them for themselves, we need to adjust our definition of what “gun culture” is to be as open and expansive as possible: The future of the Second Amendment is in their hands.

    • As part of that culture, there are still kids who are the counterstrike kiddies, yes. But more and more of us are starting to disprove the Jack Thompson line that violent video games turn you into a killer. We may have killed the world’s population a million times over via video games, but not many of us are dumbasses who treat video games as murder simulators and go out and kill in real life. The message needs to be adjusted, yes, and many game developers do rent range time to either do sound recording or ‘research’ so a fair number of them get taught. It’s amusing to see one now really join in.

    • “MILLIONS of kids out there who can rattle off the specs of the M1 Garand because of Call of Duty”: The M1 Garand can do 120 points of damage and has a range of 300 feet. It cannot be reloaded until all 8 rounds are fired and the clip is ejected with a ‘ping’. What do you mean by ‘Garand thumb’??? Blister on your thumb from rubbing the Xbox controller too much?

      Sorry I couldn’t resist.

      Oh and on small maps it isn’t about slicing the pie. It’s about rushing the enemy, with no stacking, no designated zones of fire. Ask me how I know.

      Video games exposes them to firearms, but it isn’t a place to learn about tactics or how a firearm works. I agree with your second paragraph though.

  2. “The future of the Second Amendment is in their hands.”

    Oh, crap, then we’re totally f^cked. The only thing I’d put in their hands is a bar of soap.

    • The idea that gamer = FPSRussia is no more accurate than the idea that hunter = Elmer Fudd.

      Kids are more open to the idea of guns = fun partly because of video games. This is a GOOD thing, as it’s much better than guns = GREAT BIG BOXES OF DEATH that the Brady Bunch et al would have them believe.

      If we want shooting to grow, we have to adapt our culture to the people coming in, not force them to first learn hunting from their nearest male relative or sign up for a four year hitch or something that is more typical of “Gun Culture 1.0”.

  3. I admit to being an enthusiastic video gamer whose initial “knowledge” and interest in firearms began with video games. When I was 13, I visited Las Vegas with my father and since I couldn’t gamble, I got him to take me to a range there where you can rent most any kind of gun (I was from New Jersey so obviously this concept was somewhat new to me).

    I was able to load, reload, aim, and even clear jams based solely on what I’d seen in video games and movies, even though it was my first time firing a gun. My father was pretty scared, especially when I handled a .44 magnum and AR-15 better than him.

    I was raised in a suburban, yuppie household, so my interest in firearms was mine alone. I learned rules and etiquette before anything else and took them to heart; safety and respect above all. And the difficulty of mastering firearms, as well as their indelible place in history, has turned me into one who pursues marksmanship and preservation. These days, when I see a beautiful 1911, the first thing I think of is its history and incomparable reliability rather than how many noobs I fragged with it in Call of Duty.

  4. You haven’t converted anyone until they support everyone’s gun rights in the voting booth.

    Step One: I hate guns in anyone’s hands.
    Step Two: Only the police and the military should have guns.
    Step Three: No one except me, the police and the military should have guns.
    Step Four: Anyone should be able to have guns IF they have training, obey the laws and pay the taxes.
    Step Five: The Second Amendment means exactly what it says. Any gun law is an infringement on citizen’s Rights to keep and bear firearms.

    There are too many gun owners sitting at Step Three.

    • I dunno, personally steps 2 and 3 seem scary to me – I guess I’ve just seen too many bad things done by the police / military to want to trust them with weapons. That’s why as cool as it is that we’re actually building real life rail guns, it scares the living shit out of me to think that the military are the ones in control of it.

  5. I posted this one today too. I loved her description of shooting for the first time. I can’t think of a more exhilirating and empowering experience.

    But that nonsense of winning anti-gun folks over by bringing them to the range is just that, nonsense. Most of them I know have already been and know full well what it’s all about, which is a way to make weak, insecure and frightened people feel safe and strong.

    And the joke’s on you because you’re neither safe nor strong with guns.

    • Yeah, I’m pretty sure the ones you know didn’t go with someone who knows what they’re doing.

      • I’m pretty sure that the “ones he knows” are fictional characters, since all of his other “facts” are works of fiction.

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