I enjoy firearms. I always have. It's not that they are tools of death, or that I am on a weird power trip. I appreciate them like I appreciate cars: so many unique ways to do the same thing. I like how they look, and I enjoy the sport of firing them, and seeing how they are all so different. Basically they are my version of Pokemon. So let's take it back to my early days of gaming. Seeing guns in games was always exciting to me. I would try to guess what the gun was, or more likely what it was based off of. I would get a thrill when a game would come out and have one or two real world guns in its arsenal. Forget the fact that it never needed to be reloaded, or that it didn't eject spent brass, I just got a kick out of thinking "Cool, he's using a gun just like in real life." As the years progressed I realized I was not alone. In fact there were legions of gun nuts infiltrating the gaming culture, and retooling it from the inside out. Here I stand a grown man surrounded by Calls of Duty, Battlefields, Uncharteds, and Ghost Recons and victory is somehow not as sweet as I would have imagined.
Bonus points if you can name all these guns in the comments section. I got all of them except the pirate pistol, cuz pirates are gay.
I think it all started when Americans became more involved in designing games. Think back to your classic NES games. With the exception of maybe Metal Gear most games just had a gun that fired a single bullet, or three big balls, or rockets, or lasers. A gun in those games was just a couple of pixels haphazardly thrown together to form a black and grey stick. I think it was Wolfenstein 3D where I first noticed a nod towards realistic guns. Starting with a Walther p-38 and eventually getting a MP-40 you shot bullets from a first person perspective. Not giant balls or laser looking bullets. But invisible, deadly, realisitc (ish) bullets. I was hooked. As the FPS became the pride of American developers we saw more and more of a nod towards gun culture: The amazing shotgun from Doom, the reloading pistol of Duke Nukem. There was a movement growing.
When Quake came out I remember playing it and thinking, "man this would be awesome, if the guns weren't so stupid looking." Well God and the modding community (same thing?) heard my cries and the Navy Seals Quake mod was released. Basically replacing all the weapons with amazingly detailed (for the time), real world guns. I saw the future. A future where you no longer picked up the "machine gun" but grabbed a FN MAG, weren't out of luck with a default pistol but in possession of a MK23 SOCOM capable of delivering .45acp justice to anyone foolish enough to think pistols were throw away. The trend picked up.
1997 came and with it GoldenEye 007 for the N64. Say what you will about nostalgia tinted glasses, or "try playing it now" sneers, but one thing is irrefutable: GoldenEye put more realistic themed weapons into the hands of more people than any game before it. The arsenal was blistering, and it wasn't full of pistol, shotgun, minigun archetypes. Not only did it feature almost all real world based weapons with semi accurate damage and penetration models, it also threw in fancy parody names for them. PPK? PP7. Ak47? KF7 Soviet. The guns all did basically the same thing, the difference was in the rate of fire, quickness to aquire a target, damage, and penetration. Not the color of the orbs they shot out. However, GoldenEye also strayed into the territory of more arcadey rocket launchers and used a semi distracting and cartoony zoom in reticle and also featured dual wielding RC-P90 reloading with no hands. We weren't all the way there yet, but close.
In 1998 Rainbow Six was released for PC. It was a bold step into blending FPS gameplay with realistic sim like shooting. It was awesome. Not content to pull any punches this game featured real world weapons that did real world(ish) damage. For the first time people began to wonder if it would be better to take an MP5a4 or an MP5k PDW into a firefight. R6 was sitting on gold, they were just missing a vital ingredient. The player's gun's view model.
Later that year Half-Life, built on a heavily modified Quake 2 engine was released, giving you a 17-round Glock 17 as your first firearm. Progress. It was off of the Half-Life platform that one of the biggest game changers to hit video games was made: Counter Strike. When I heard there was a total conversion mod that pit you against other humans online using all real world weapons, I thought there was no way it would be any good. That was too simple, too easy. Which means no one would do it right. When I first sat down with CS, I died...... repeatedly. BUT I saw the FPS of my dreams. Real guns, accurately and amazingly detailed (well with the ejection ports flipped for dramatic effect), and painstakingly faithfully animated to their real steal counterparts. Dead to me were the days of rail guns, nail guns, and plasma. To me the future was in the present. I wasn't the only one who felt this way. CS was and still is a global phenomena.
There are tons of guns to choose from, but the dog rapists all use pretty much the same ones.
The ball kept rolling, and it wasn't just in FPS games anymore. Everyone was on board. Guns became iconic in games. The Beretta m9 from Resident Evil, the FaMas from Metal Gear, the Desert Eagle from every game ever. It was a snowballing effect. The more games catered to the gun culture, the more people were turned on to the gun culture. The string of World War 2 games hit, and staying close to their Wolfenstein roots, included the real gear from the time period (minus miniguns). By now the weapons were known by name, aim down sights had become a staple, and bullets were deadly as hell. No more bad guys taking four BFG shots, just one strategically placed bullet would do the job.
Battlefield 2 brought everything into a modern setting and the rest is history. Now almost every game we play uses realistic weapons. It would be laughable to play a game with guns and no reload button. Of course there are differences between assault rifles, SMGs, and light machine guns. No shit a holographic optic creates a clearer target picture than traditional iron sights. Ah the world in which we game today. A world I've yearned for for almost 20 years. I can't wait to see what new weaponry I'll get to wield in BF3 and MW3. I pray that I can main a Mk 14 EBR in BF3. It is truly the greatest time to be in the majority for me. And yet, the game I play every night has rocket jumps, fish kills, needle guns, and hundreds upon hundreds of hats....
All that being said I still love the gun games. How about you reader?