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The Parkland massacre — and, more accurately, the media-driven Astroturf anti-gun push that’s followed it — has prompted all manner of earnest self-reflection on the the part that firearms play in American culture and entertainment. And perhaps no form of mental masturbation is more gun-drenched than the video game industry.

It’s the gnawing embarrassment and existential angst at the fun he finds in playing games like Call of Duty: WWII and Destiny that has prompted Kotaku editor-at-large Kirk Hamilton to peck out a 6700-word navel-gazer on what it is about gun games that give him such guilty pleasure.

Not having grown up around guns, Hamilton seems amazed at the level of interest in and extensive knowledge about guns he’s developed as a result of the man-years he’s spent holding an Xbox controller. But he goes to great pains to express his displeasure with America’s love affair with them and the lack of strict gun laws regulating their ownership and use.

Being an American means spending every day under a shroud of gun-inflicted cultural trauma. Being an American who plays video games often means spending one’s downtime in a virtual space where people gleefully shoot one another without a second thought. There is a natural tension between those two experiences, a tension millions of us reconcile every day. Most of the time we don’t even think about it. Being a human being—American, gamer, or otherwise—means spending every day navigating the tensions between all sorts of conflicting systems and ideologies. Even the most tenuous balancing acts can become unconscious.

Oh, the existential contradictions! No gun culture 2.0 for this guilty gamer. He clearly holds out for a future in which we’ll eventually see the error of our ways. One in which, one day, we come to our collective senses and swear off our desire to own and shoot guns. And eat meat, too.

I think of how I nod along with my vegan or vegetarian friends when they explain the morality behind their dietary choice. I consider the affection I feel toward my girlfriend’s dog, a lovable little dope who would probably lose an IQ comparison with any random pig pulled off the line at a factory farm. I imagine a far-flung future where my nieces’ children ask me, “Uncle Kirk, did people seriously used to eat meat? Like, they’d kill and consume living, intelligent animals? And everyone was just okay with that?”

But, God help me, I still like hamburgers.

Well yeah. Because they’re delicious. In much the same way that guns — both real and virtual — are fun. Not to mention useful tools for recreation, personal defense, and putting some of that yummy, juicy animal flesh in the freezer and on your table.

But that doesn’t mean a modern, intersectionally aware male won’t feel justifiably conflicted about the contradiction of the rush he gets from playing FPS games and the socially aware better angels of his delicate nature.

As an example of the deep contradictions at play in Kirk’s life, there’s the profound unease he feels after watching a YouTube vid, trying to improve his sniping skills in one of his favorite video games. He can’t believe how he just spent the last eleven minutes of his life.

For a moment, I reflect on what I’m actually doing, and what he’s actually teaching. He’s telling me how to make sure I put my sight on my enemy’s head, so that the bullet I fire will hit him there. He’s giving me helpful tips to be better at virtually killing people.

But dammit, he just can’t help himself!

And here’s the thing: it feels really good to virtually kill other players—or robots, or aliens, or whatever—in Destiny! All of the guns in Destiny and its sequel feel great to use, to the point that “gun feel” is one of the most oft-cited reasons people like playing the games.

We’ll spare you much of the rest. Such as Hamilton’s talk with a a cop friend who helpfully recounts how different it is to fire a real handgun. And how disturbing the effect of gunfire is on the human body here in meatspace compared to the sanitized, 2D version Hamilton sees on his TV screen when he smokes a Nazi zombie. Who’d a thunk it?

Kirk makes sure to profess his deep disbelief that guns in video games have anything to do with what the Nikolas Cruzes and James Holmes of the world decide to do.

And he lets us know that some video game developers have come to their socially conscious senses, swearing off guns in their latest creations. He apparently takes some solace in the fact that only 38% of the games currently installed on his computer are “gun games.”

But given these games’ grip on him, Hamilton apparently has only one real hope for redemption: the gradual onset of “bullet fatigue.”

I still play a lot of gun games, but I sense my preferences changing as the years go by. I no longer go out of my way to play Call of Duty games, and, like Remo, increasingly find games with a gunfire-dominated soundscape exhausting. When I play Battlefield1, I treat it more like an intense, meditative type of war-reenactment than anything fun or empowering. I’m repulsed by the glorified black-ops shenanigans in Ghost Recon: Wildlands, despite how invigorating the game could be, were it somehow divorced from its narrative context. Slowly but surely, I can feel the number of shooting games I like shrinking as my preference for non-gun-games grows. I sometimes wonder if there will be a breaking point, something that makes swear off gun-games forever. It’ll probably be a while yet.

It’s a process, Kirk. It’s a process.

Over the past month, the seemingly intractable American gun control debate has been kicked loose with a ferocity I’ve never before seen. Spurred by the resonant, furious voices of teen survivors of the Parkland shooting, hundreds of thousands of people marched last weekend in Washington and around the world to protest our government’s unwillingness to implement meaningful gun control. I want to hope that this time is different, without feeling like I have to wrap that hope in a hundred layers of jaded insulation. I want to believe that this time, something might actually change.

Perhaps there’s still hope for us all. Until then, Far Cry 5 is calling your name….


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  1. Pretty sure you’re talking about Far Cry 5.

    On a side note… this sort of bullshit is why GamerGate is a thing.

  2. First they will come for your guns, then they will come for your gun games, then your Tetris, then they’ll cut off your dick.

  3. Poor little gamer. He’s learned SO Much about guns! Maybe, one day, someone will get hom,out of mommy’s basement appartment and to a range. I like to see him pull the trigger on my 300WM.

  4. 1) Shut your pie hole you little Jiminy Cricket pest bastard.

    2) Real guns = bad. Game guns = OK?

    So to all the mom’s basement dwellers, Sex = bad. Porn = OK?

    • I heard that Millennials do not have much sex. I assume that means they would consume more pornography, watch some weird anime or read mangas. Maybe they are too busy building sex robots instead of actually being in a relationship.

  5. Stop whining you little Nancy boy, too cowardly to join the Marines to learn how to really kill enemies and to be shot at, he’s relegated to acting out his homicidal tendencies in front of a TV or computer screen. Then complains that the world is too “Real” for him and guns are scary. Pop your Mommies titty out of your mouth and man up; Aint nobody getting off this planet alive.

  6. If you are pixelating the barrel of an AR, does that make it an SBR in virtual reality?

    Is the VATF going to investigate?

  7. Has anyone noticed how monkish SJWs are? Sex is bad. Food is bad. Enjoyment in anything in life except pride in your gleaming moral superiority over everyone else is bad. Guilt from birth over stuff you can’t be redeemed of. To anyone who knows history this sounds AWFULLY familiar.

    • I’ve kinda thought the same thing. Seems like people will never get around to living their life if they’re too busy feeling guilty about stuff that they didn’t do, or happened years, generations, even centuries before they were born. California’s decision that coffee now has to carry cancer warnings also reminded me of it.

  8. ” the fun he finds in playing games ”

    You don’t know much about Kotaku. Kotaku is one of those publications for people who hate video games, can’t play (as in, they’re totally incompetent at it) video games and wish they were terrible movies instead. Another example of such is Polygon.

  9. I have a solution to Kirk Hamilton’s ennui. He should sell all his video games and equipment and buy himself a nice new dress. Maybe a nice strapless number in gray chiffon.

    Oh, and matching pumps.

    • He would have to get a sex change first that way he won’t have that evil penis and testicles that make him want to pick up a tool and hit someone over the head with it, kill animals for their juicy meat or run around terrorizing women with his toxic masculinity. He can always adopt a less fortunate third world child if he wants kids — preferably a black child just to prove he isn’t a racist.

  10. I just read the entire article before coming here. I’m a gamer, I grew up in the 80s and kinda see where the guy is coming from, but I don’t accept his views. I also read some of the comments coming from gun owners trying to be open minded, but then some Anti/Lib/Dumocrat/Lefist/Socialist/Commie tries to shoot them down. That’s the kinda crap we deal with in California as gun owners, but we keeping fighting for our 2A rights.

  11. You expected something intelligent from someone who works for Kotaku, a subdivision of Gawker which is now owned by Univision under the Gizmodo banner??

    Come on now!

  12. “Uncle Kirk, did you seriously used to date a woman? Like, you’d go out with and kiss a real life adult female? And everyone was just okay with that?”

    I’ve heard of guys wanting to get inside a girl’s pants before, but this smarmy sounding, Dory/Lanza-looking, masculinity-fleeing wuss seems to want to get inside her pants, her culottes, her summer dress, her Italian leather slingbacks, and anything else of hers he could prance around in while decrying anything remotely male.

    Where do you find these people? How do they even come into existence?

    • Today “girlfriend” probably need not mean an actual “girl”. With actual working warm flesh lady parts. All that …….ist repressive construct etc etc. Could be anything.

  13. What a woosh…my son was all into gaming(still is at 43). But he joined the army at 18 and carried guns in the mid-east. Some boyz are just pu##ies…

  14. Jesus, what a faggot. Retards like that make everyone who enjoys video games look like vapid, self-absorbed soy-boys who couldn’t muster the strength to tie their own shoe laces. Someone get him a sandwich and a girlfriend. Yeesh.

  15. He’s just another self-important Lib-TARD SJW Snowflake—a Limp Biscuit at best….Trying to force his girlfriend’s confused left-wing political practices on the masses….Has nothing to do with Video/PC games, or Firearms….He needs to go back to Japan and watch some more tentacle porn….

  16. “Being an American means spending every day under a shroud of gun-inflicted cultural trauma.”

    Anyone else sick of this s**t? Because I am. We only live under a “shroud of gun-inflicted cultural trauma” because the anti-gun movement and their clown posse media make it so. They relentlessly pound a fantasy “epidemic” of gun violence that actually doesn’t exist.

    They’ll never tell you that even in 2017, a terrible year for mass shootings, your chances of being killed in one were actually 1 in over 3 million and driving to that anti-gun rally is actually more likely to get you killed.

    They act like it’s nearly impossible for the average citizen to leave his basement bunker anymore for fear of being shot dead when the truth is, unless you deal drugs for a living, run with a gang or live in a high-crime inner city (which all seem to be run by leftists since forever) you are far more likely to die from a hospital transmitted infection than be murdered with a firearm.

    And what of those bad neighborhoods? My job takes me into them, often at night, and yet despite the thousands of hours I’ve spent working in some of the worst places in the NYC metro area, I still haven’t heard a gun shot, seen a gun fight, much less been in any danger of being shot.

    It’s all hyperbole for a purpose: create fear. Because fear lets them get their way.

    • Have them watch some Mexican news. It’s ridiculous the stories that come out of Mexico — the place that has the gun laws the anti 2nd Amendment Americans want so badly.

      Did you hear about the 43 students that were kidnapped and executed because they wanted to remind people of the gun violence the Mexican government had done to their own people? A “corrupt” local government was partnered up with cartels, the Feds were derelict in their duty or actively helped commit the crimes and of course the victims didn’t have their right to self preservation using modern tools.

      Is that what Americans really want? Do they want to give corrupt local governments the opportunity to oppress and murder people in ignored areas by disarming the people?

      Look at the small cities/towns in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas where politicians/police are taking over the government and doing as they please. It’s worse when Mexican-American people get in charge of American government as they don’t like America and want Mexico to take back what the Spanish once had. (There is a few reasons why other countries don’t allow dual citizenship.)

  17. “Being an American means spending every day under a shroud of gun-inflicted cultural trauma.”

    Really, does it?, let’s do the math.

    10,000 or so firearms related deaths each year.

    10,000/365 = 27.4 per day

    27.4/50 = 0.55 per state per day

    Soooo, on average, someone dies from a gunshot every other day in the average U.S. state. Sooo, not an everyday occurrence. (Yes, I know that state populations vary – making a point.)

  18. Hmm…

    Killing games make him desensitized to violence and murder? It makes him feel good when he blows someone’s head off? He was addicted to the game that rewards him for kill streaks/mass murder? He has more non FPS games, but he continues to play a lot more hours of FPS games? When he was full of teenage testosterone, he loved those violent gun games and juicy hamburgers? Now that his testosterone levels are decreasing as he gets older, he no longer wants to run around with a gun or kill anything (including animals)?

    I wonder what would have happened if there was some different variables in his life. Maybe he should put himself on the no buy list for guns, just in case.

  19. Kotaku is a joke among gamers. It’s a place where people who want to be political activists go when they can’t make it in that field. The only reason they’re still a thing is because of how many people in the tech industry share their self loathing and spend money to advertise with them.

  20. It also feels good to call each other n-bombs while gaming too, said PewDiePie. This guy is gamergate. He doesn’t feel this way but probably Shannon Watts whored herself to him if he would write this. Gamergate 2.0.


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