I’ve been playing games with guns in them for most of my life, and I think it's safe to say that's true for most of us. The first one I ever played with a gun in it was Doom. Now, let’s be honest here, there is more than just a gun in that game; it's, being one of the earliest shooters, the whole game really.
I remember sitting on my Grandpa’s lap watching him play, helping him find all of the items (or as he called them “goodies”; I still use this word for items and power-ups). Then, when I finally worked up the courage, I would play with him nearby watching and helping me; hoping to god that damned one-eyed, floating-head monster wouldn’t pop up out of nowhere!
I’ve been exposed to guns, real and fake, for most of my life, so I know the immense responsibility that comes along with them. There is a weight to them; and I mean that in a metaphorical sense (though some can be ridiculously heavy for how small they are). This weight, this truly destructive power, this responsibility, tends to be absent from games. From Doom to Call of Duty, guns are what keep things moving.
This is perfectly fine, and I enjoy a good FPS more than a lot of games, but I also want to see more of how truly powerful carrying a gun can be. This is one of the big reasons I enjoy survival horror games. Sure, I love to be scared, but a gun is a true commodity and its ammunition equally as valuable.
Other games, however, treat them merely as an extension of your player character. When I play a frantic FPS I could ask myself “Who am I?”, and in the back of my mind my name is whatever gun I’m using. “I’m Sniper Rifle.”
We get so overloaded with guns, the shooting of countless enemies, and the seemingly limitless ammunition that we forget what being the person with the gun means in our real world. Picture this, you’re in a room filled with people, maybe you know some and others you don’t. Now, in this scenario you have a gun; just a handgun, something small but visible. The people around you can see that you’re holding it. They stare wide-eyed, each one thinking something differently, but you have their attention. You can feel the power in your hands; you know you can get your way no matter what. Many people can’t handle that kind of power, but my point is you can feel that weight. In that room you have responsibility and choice. I’ve never pointed a gun at another human being, but I’m sure it’s not as easy as it’s made out to be in film and games; especially to actually pull the trigger.
Mirror’s Edge is game that pleases me some in this regard. I didn’t quite feel the weight of a real gun, but guns are useless for the most part. The way I played, I only used a gun when I was at my most desperate. It was always very brief, and when I shot and killed a guard I always felt like I wish I hadn’t needed to. Guns also got in the way of your own ability; climbing was harder and Faith felt more sluggish. She isn’t supposed to be using them.
Obviously, Mirror’s Edge isn’t a shooter, but I liked the way they handled things in that regard. I would also get this feeling in the Metal Gear Solid series. The game, again, isn’t a shooter and is about stealth, but when I had to use a gun it was out of necessity.
Imagine a game where you play as a character caught up in the world of crime. Something that is similar to GTA in essense, but not necessarily open-world, and definitely not as outrageous. Your character is in a tight spot, so they grab the only gun they own and head out to try and make things right. You have to be tough, stern, and careful; the law is after you. You try to avoid using your gun at all costs, instead talking your way through things and threatening to get your way. You don’t want to kill anyone… and if you do things get more difficult and the law comes after you even harder. Violence may be the only answer from time to time (in the form of fighting), but pulling out that gun will always mean that the shit is hitting the fan. Imagine someone pulls a gun on you and you instinctively pull out yours… a standoff… do I shoot first? Do I try to talk my way out of this? If I kill this guy I might live, but I’ll be screwed…
I want the power of a gun without the shooting. I want to play that game.
I certainly know reality isn’t the reason we play games, and this is not a PSA about the danger of gun violence in video games. I just would like to see the occasional game that explores the heavier side of holding a gun. I feel overloaded with extreme, firepower action. Sometimes a touch of reality in an aspect of a game, something as simple as a gun, can bring a whole new layer to narrative and emotion.