Just last week, friend of the blog Kris Ligman completed a three-part series of posts detailing the major problems with E3. In part 3, which you can read at Gameranx, she explains what she means when she says that E3 is a “technosexual military fetish orgy”:
From military research we arrived at the first computers, and from these emerged the first war games, thus creating a continuous narrative of combat and contest that stretches from Space War to Spec Ops: The Line. If the latter recapitulates the war gaming genre in a more critical light, it does so in the same ways that corporate marketing cynically adopts anti-corporate imagery. And for every The Line, there are a dozen Modern Warfares and Homefronts, all gleefully reproducing the tropes of warmongering military-funded Hollywood blockbusters. It’s to these we give our accolades, not whatever is the equivalent of a Hurt Locker or an Apocalypse Now. It’s to this kind of gory yet clinically disaffected, unrepentent violence that we stage a three-day summer fertility festival each year.
(That is just one paragraph; you should definitely read the whole thing.)
I was immediately reminded of this piece today when I read this article by Ryan Smith at Gameological pointing out that EA has partnered with a number of gun manufacturers for Medal of Honor: Warfighter:
But EA takes the realism factor further by allowing players to test out a photorealistic replica of, for example, the TAC-300 sniper rifle. Like the way the gun drops terrorists or racks up headshots in multiplayer? Feel free to visit Warfighter’s official website and click on a sponsored link that will take you to McMillan, the manufacturer of the gun. There you may purchase a real-life TAC-300 to your own specification (night-vision kit is optional!) and have it shipped to your local federally licensed gun dealer for pickup.
Looking at the partners page, there are spaces for sixteen total companies, with eleven currently revealed. Each space includes the company’s tagline, featuring delightful slogans such as “The Dead Center of Precision” and “Speed is Fine, Accuracy is Final,” just in case you thought these guns were just for the shooting range. The page also links to each blog post announcing the partnership and talking about the company and its products.
I am honestly at a loss for words except to say that this is disturbing.
Smith relates the story of how his nephew, a 13-year-old Call of Duty fan, got caught bringing a BB gun to school, and concludes:
I can’t say for certain whether or not my nephew would have brought a gun to school without the role of military video games, nor can I say if gun sales will increase because of Medal Of Honor: Warfighter. But if we want the vicarious thrills of violent video games to remain morally justifiable, we need to protect the fourth wall between the first-person shooter and real life. EA’s willingness to make a connection between a video game gun and an actual firearm is the strongest evidence yet that we’ve already let the wall crumble too much.