Are video games creating so called “gun experts” that don’t know anything about guns? The short answer is “yes”, but to call this “The Call of Duty Effect” or to act like it’s a new phenomenon is kind of short sighted. This has been going on ever since Counterstrike first came out and became (for its time) the first person shooter for people to play. I enjoyed Counterstrike. I played it a lot. What I never thought was that my ability to hose bullets out of a simulated MP5 and rack up head shots would translate to any sort of actual skill or knowledge with firearms.
My world crosses over quite a bit with the gaming world – I started playing Wing Commander on an IBM 386; and while I don’t play games nearly as much as I once did I still enjoy the occasional round of Counterstrike or Day of Defeat. Two of my brothers actually work in the gaming industry as well, so there’s quite a bit of crossover there. As games become more and more realistic in their depiction of firearms (from a graphics standpoint anyway) I do think that you’ll find an ever increasing number of “video game kids” that think their video game knowledge will translate into real world knowledge.
But here’s the thing – yeah, those kids can be annoying at times. But instead of shunning them or casting them aside, I truly believe that we need to embrace the video game generation and their love of firearms. You see a kid that’s interested in learning about the Bushmaster ACR, or M4 Carbines or whatever because he’s been playing Modern Warfare? Talk to that kid. Educate him, don’t dismiss him. Someone come to your range with his freshly purchased semi-auto Thompson because it was awesome in a World War II game? That kid is the future of our shooting sports, right there. Take him to a USPSA match, because that kid needs the adrenaline from Run and Gun.
I have probably said this before, but I honestly believe that the video game generation is our future in the shooting sports. Think about it for a minute – kids growing up playing games that involve firearms are going to have fewer mystical beliefs than those that have never been exposed to any type of firearm, digital or otherwise, so there is the potential for great teaching and recruiting opportunities. It’s up to us to capitalize on that opportunity.