The Call of Duty Effect

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.


  1. Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes. There are thousands and thousands of kids out there who know about finding cover for a reload and how to pie a corner because of video games, and the sooner we shooters can get those kids to realize that the real thing (when done safely) is MUCH more fun than a game, the better off our sport will be.

  2. Good point Caleb, getting those kids out shooting will definitely help the future of our sport. The kid with the Thompson might like the Zoot Shooters whose scenarios involve period clothes and 20s/30s gangster themes.

  3. It was guns in books and pen’n’paper role-playing games that got me into shooting. Lord knows I made an ass of myself when I was younger, too.

  4. Like Tam, I can blame pencil-and-paper games as much or more than any videogame, in at least the mid-to-late 90’s, well before Counterstrike or Call of Duty.

    Unlike Tam, I’m a relatively late arrival to actual guns, and am still making an ass of myself.

  5. Agreed. It’s EASY to get them beyond that early clueless phase, too, and they dive right into the minutiae of firearms with only the merest of shoves down that slippery slope.

  6. I played a lot of first person shooters before picking up a real gun. Once I started shooting IDPA/USPSA, doing it on the computer lost most of its allure. An active effort to get these kids out to matches could fuel an explosion in popularity of the action shooting sports. Action games are the future of shooting sports. I was quite heartened by the new NRA Basic Pistol textbook. It teaches thumbs forward grip and iso stance now, and the shooting sports section talks about IDPA and USPSA.

  7. I was thinking just what Tam said.

    And all my friends in high school were _also_ experts on medieval and renaissance arms and armor after reading the Equipment chapter in the D&D Player’s Handbook.

  8. +1 Caleb!

    As my name implies, I have a special place in my heart for new shooters. And as a dad of a 5 year old who lectures the neighbor boys about the danger of pointing airsoft guns at “something you are not willing to destroy”, I’m an advocate of getting kids into the shooting sports as well.

    I hate to think of people who might be into shooting but are afraid looking stupid in front the crusty old timer in the gun shop.

  9. damn Kilrathi…

    Love the point all around. Imagine the CS generation’s confusion when they find out which side the brass actually ejects!

    On the flip side to this coin, I have to admit that anytime I see someone playing Big Buck Hunter in a bar, I’m watching for trigger and muzzle discipline. Not in a “ooh there’s a gamer that doesn’t know how to handle a REAL [neon green plastic] GUN” kinda way. More in a Last Starfighter/recruiting to save the universe kinda way…

  10. I actually have to (kinda) go against the grain on this one. I’m 25 years old, and, as a result, I am constantly lumped in with the ‘video game generation’. However, I’ve been a life-long shooter and I’ve worked in the shooting industry for several years. I hunt, shoot and compete… and it drives me nuts to be lumped in with all of the Call of Duty shooters/gun owners simply because of my age.

  11. So one day I was out shooting on public land when 2 young men, tatted and mohawked, with a Glock showed up. They asked if I minded them setting up and shooting next to me…not at all, I said. They set up a metal “No Skateboarding” sign and proceed to riddle it with holes. After a while, one of the guys safed the Glock, came over to me and said, “Dude. you’re hitting what you’re shooting at, and we’re not. Can you show us what we’re doing wrong?” It turned out that they came to shooting through video games, had pooled their money to buy a G17 and were frustrated because “shooting was so hard.” I worked with them for a couple of hours and found them to be interested and dedicated shooters. Welcome to the future…

    Michael B

    1. There’s a guy I know that looks like a cover model for Ink magazine…and is also an “A” class USPSA shooter who loved World of Warcraft. It’s a crazy world indeed!

  12. I got into guns because Half-Life 2 used real models. My cousin’s a (D) and plays Modern Warfare 2. He’s learned a bit from the game (and some that’s inaccurate) and told me he’s planning on buying a gun for defense. I pulled out my Sig (concealed,) cleared it, and handed it over. I started to explain Florida gun law, and he just about crapped himself.

    He’s going to get disenfrachised with the Cali system real quick. 😀

  13. I’m one of the rare birds that started off shooting before I started playing FPS games. My first gun was a Remington 870 Express that I won at a duck dinner. From there, I was a gun-buying fool. I’d save my money and buy toys. Glock 17, Mossy 500 with a barrel shroud and ghost ring sights, Colt HBAR2, tricked-out 10/22 that could literally put the rounds in the same hole at 50 yards, Remington 700BDL in 30.06 with a big-assed scope.

    Then I found FPS games. I played with the different weapons in there, and tried all my little tricks about windage and holdover that I learned from the real world, and I sucked. Then I learned that it doesn’t exist. Put the crosshairs or red dot on the BG and pull the trigger. If it wasn’t for the hackers, I’d be doing a whole lot better than I have been.

    But I kill a whole lot of zombies with my M-60 MG. Can’t do that in the real world.

  14. I am still new too, and having hung around Canthros a little in college, I will give him a little credit for motivation when I finally did get my first gun.

    I played a lot of FPS games for years, but what finally got me to handle a firearm for the first time was a cute girl from some Chicago suburb taking me out to shoot trap one Saturday morning in Illinois. It only took a few more years until I was getting my own firearms.

    I’m still making an ass of myself as well, but I try to learn as much as I can whenever I can afford it.

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