The Reality of the Virtual World: The Bullet

Since there aren’t any popular releases coming soon save for the latest Mass Effect game, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at how weapons in video games stack up to their real-life counterparts. Barring any surprise releases or announcements, I’ll try and post an article about my time in Crossfit as well, assuming some of us are curious just how much work it would take to look like Johnny Cage or Ezio Auditore.

I drove down to West Coast Armory for two lessons in basic handgun skills such as compensating for recoil, the proper stance, and how to hold a handgun. For this class, I had the opportunity to use a 9mm Glock and a 1911 .45 Cal. Imagine my surprise when I found out that this is where legendary developers Bungie and Valve actually come to get a better understanding of how a gun works and mo-cap weapons to use in their games. Here’s a quick picture I grabbed of signed posters from the developers:

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It seems like a given, but there’s an incredible amount of detail that goes into how you handle a gun, understanding the individual parts, and especially how you hold it. The first gun I had a chance to fire, was the 1911 .45 cal, which brought an incredible amount of recoil with it. I’m not ashamed to admit that the loud “Bang!” from the gun coupled with the sheer power of the recoil was enough to startle and stagger me back. In most shooters there are three basic controls to understand: look for your targeting reticle, aim and shoot. When you’re actually aiming at a real target however, there’s a stance to take, a target to focus on through your sights, and a willingness to brace for some recoil.

It’s worth mentioning that reloading a weapon isn’t as simple as swapping out for yet another fully loaded clip; if you’re in a situation where all you have is the one clip and maybe some extra ammo, you have to be prepared to take at least 30 seconds to reload. It took me a class and a half to figure out how to reload in less than five minutes (with the help of some friendly fellow classmates), but it gave me more respect for anyone in the middle of a firefight who obviously won’t have 99 fully loaded clips on their person at all times.

So if you’re looking for a game that respects how much detail goes into a firearm and how to hold it, what should you play? There’s two answers to this depending on what you’re looking for:

If you’re more interested in what goes into a gun, and how each part will enhance or decrease certain features, I’d strongly recommend Ghost Recon: Wildlands Gunsmith system, despite my mixed feelings on the beta. One idea the game nails is that while traveling around Bolivia, certain weapon crates you find can carry replacement parts for your weapons. They aren’t something as simple as different scopes either: you can take apart every piece of the gun such as the underbarrel or trigger and swap those for something more geared towards your playstyle, whether that’s stealthy or guns blazing. Here’s a video courtesy of Arekkz Gaming that explains the customization mechanic in a nutshell:


But if you want to understand how it feels to really handle a gun, understand how hard it is to hit a moving target, understand just the difference in handling different weapons and most importantly managing a realistic amount of ammunition, then look no further than Resident Evil 7. It’s odd when a game focusing on fighting off undead rednecks has the best understanding of firearms, but it adds to the terror that much more when every bullet counts. Here’s a couple seconds of combat using the G17 (essentially the 9mm Glock):

Keep in mind, that no videogame can give you a completely immersive experience with firearms however. For anyone who wants the full experience, I’d recommend going to your nearest shooting range. It’s not just a fun activity, its a great way to learn about and respect how powerful and important handgun safety can be. If I missed anything, or you have any more questions, feel free to leave a comment below, and be sure to like and follow the blog as well!


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