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SGS Feature: 'The Right to Bore Arms'

Today's main feature written for Gamasutra sister site Serious Games Source, which deals with games created for training, hea...
Today's main feature written for Gamasutra sister site Serious Games Source, which deals with games created for training, health, government, military, educational and other uses, features a look at the recently announced NRA Gun Club for the PlayStation 2 from Crave Entertainment. Specifically, Georgia Institute of Technology assistant professor and Persuasive Games founding partner Ian Bogost examines the NRA-licensed console title as compared to other similar titles, as well as within its own context as a “nonviolent” gun game. In this excerpt, Bogost offers his thoughts on the game, as well as insight into the possibility that while people may at first be put off by the idea of an NRA-licensed title, the game itself may in fact offer a stark contrast to other mainstream releases: “I would challenge such skeptics to look beyond your preconceptions of the NRA and analyze this game on its own terms. For one part, it traces the organization’s increasingly sophisticated approach to videogame-based public communication. You see, this isn’t the first NRA endorsed videogame. Back in 2004, Interactive Sports Entertainment & Marketing created NRA Varmint Hunter, in which the player brandished firearms against infestations of groundhogs and prairie dogs. Marketing materials for the game assured “realistic animal behavior” modeling, thanks to a collaboration with the Varmint Hunters Association. The game’s splash screen depicted an unassuming prairie dog in the crosshairs of a long-range sight. The player even visited a bumpkinish general store to stock up on supplies.” He adds later: "By making firearms boring, slow, and arduous, NRA Gun Club might actually perform the rhetoric many people, including myself, have previously laughed-off as politicking and fabrication: the responsible handling of firearms. One might even go so far as to say that NRA Gun Club owes most of its rhetorical power to the commercial FPS. The very obsession with the fantasy of gunplay common to commercial videogames creates an empty space in which the fantasy of responsible gunhandling takes more coherent form than it might do in any other medium." You can now read the full Serious Games Source feature on the subject, including more thoughts from Bogost concerning NRA Gun Club (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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