This simple, dark work will make you think about guns in games

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Mmm - not really interested in a game when that happens fairly routinely in the summer where I live.

I guess for you rural and suburb folks can try it for fun.

ETA - must be winter time in the game. Lots of gun play in the wild happens outside.

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I am relieved in these rare moments where someone actually brings up how “gross” it is that we’re expected to think it’s perfectly normal to have a game give you a gun, have you shoot a bunch of people and then feel like it was the coolest, most fun thing ever (even if they’re “Bad Guys”).

It is gross, and not in the “ew yucky, blood” sort of way, but in the same way it’s gross when someone says something racist or sexist. It shows the same sort of lack of awareness on the part of a developer when they make a game that glorifies violence, which put simply, is NOT something that should be glorified, even when it’s necessary.

Thanks for writing this, Leigh!


That and I’m not sure that the author has ever actually heard a gunshot. It loses a lot of the weight by having a gunshot sound that could’ve been reproduced on an atari 2600, I think.


Now I have an idea for an indie game: Pearl Clutching Simulator.


OK. That wasn’t a game. I mean, let’s call a spade a spade.

Interactive art? Ok.

A game? Absolutely not.


You can easily figure out if a loud sound happened close or afar. The high frequencies get attenuated faster with distance. Up close, a semiauto or auto weapon has that telltale metal-on-metal clicky component which may even almost dominate. The farther you get, the more dull it sounds. From yet more afar, there are echoes and reverbrations from the buildings and other structures around that smear the sound further.

Same with a lightning. Up close one is a loud CRACK. The further away it gets, the more it is a deep rumbling.

Also, an alternative response to being stressed out by loud sounds and wondering is to shrug it off and file away for optional correlation if it’d repeat too often. As someone prone to anxieties, I can first-hand appreciate the wisdom of not worrying at the slightest provocation. Takes some self-training, though, but it is generally worth it. “Need more data” beats squarely having a panic attack, even the mild ones suck.

Tried to think about guns in games. Went through some somewhat-drunk free associating, and ended up sketching a knockoff of a commercial simulator which uses pneumatic piston to simulate recoil. Saw it on a military tech fair here, was neat, they always have a fairly long queue. (Todo: ask the guys from the Factory if they don’t have a spare jig actuator and a solenoid valve). Could be handy for Oculus Rift… Tried some 3d printing with elastomeric polypropylene, just today, and the results are encouraging and it seems it works and could be potentially used for gaskets and maybe even pneumatic/hydraulic piston seals so maybe the actuators could be even made just from a length of pipe and a 3d-printed piston/seal…Who knows yet if such seals actually seal, tests have to be done.

Don’t drink and design :smiley:


I think I know the place in the picture. Okay, there may be many places like that, but this feels an uncannily good fit. It was in Lambeth (London). A series of flats faced a courtyard with a sunken centre, with the ramp you see in the foreground. The person I know who was sharing a flat there was a trainee doctor in the 1980’s. Someone broke into their flat. It’s a good spot for that sort of thing.


In a fantasy world, the defeating of an enemy by any means is essentially equal.

Running them down with a ultra-sports car in GTA, yep. Scoring a TD/goal/HR in the last seconds of the game, yep. Solving a Minecraft… I suppose…

All this shit is fake and it is fun. I’m not Tom Brady. I’m not a terrorist or James Bond, I’m a person who likes the pretense and BILLIONS of dollars of work/art/expertise that allow me to embody a fake and entirely different reality and then compete against zeros and ones…

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I didn’t find it to be particularly effective art, either, but that’s okay. It doesn’t require my approval, nor do I desire that it not exist.

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If you are really far away from the source, you will be more likely to hear the crack from the sonic boom of the bullet, vs the rifle being fired. Surprised you didn’t mention this. Gunfire locator - Wikipedia

I have a similar attitude. Everything can be art. It may not be particularly good art in one’s opinion, but it is art and someone else may come to enjoy it.


That assumes the bullet flies close to you. Otherwise I agree.

Re gunfire locator, if I get those isochronous transfers solved on the ATmega32u4, and get that DIY soundcard working, there will be a GPS-synchronized recorder (with the GPS data encoded to the stream). Several such nodes could be used for acoustic imaging, including gunfire locating.

And I think I could convince a $10 logic analyzer to act as a 24Msps 8bit analog input, with effective resolution of 256-n values, where n is a number of symbols for external slow-signal events keyed in (e.g. 2 for rising and falling edge of GPS NMEA, and one more for falling edge of PPS, so you get 253-level ADC and three exact-moment references that replace the symbols from the ADC (which then have to be interpolated but they are just few so not much of distortion introduced)). Could be great for data acquisition of time- or event-correlated signals on shoestring budget.

This is honestly one of the most pretentious things I’ve ever read. No message is effectively conveyed here. The is just imposing a “deep” interpretation onto a very rudimentary web animation.

I mean, make whatever games or art you want, but I would hope that “the most striking game about guns” has a bit more to offer than this.

What you seemed to have missed is that most people can separate fantasy from reality. Games aren’t real, that’s why it’s okay that you can shoot a bunch of people in them. I’ve been doing that since I was a young child and at no point have I wished to do it in real life, not did it make me think it’s really cool if someone else does.

Game dev - especially indie game dev - is still a pretty comfortably upper-middle-class (probably “nice” urban or suburban, probably white, etc) vocation. As someone who also fits that description, this was actually surprisingly moving to me.

Not the first scene, or even the second. But then it started to affect me. The key, IMO, is that the experience doesn’t have an end. After a scene finishes, another one loads up. Same thing - unknown shooter, unknown circumstances, unknown outcome. And then another. And another. To you it’s routine; the fact (the realization) that it is routine to some people is precisely what is surprising or moving to others.

I’m glad the post described what they got from the game because I don’t think i would have gotten any of that at all.

I don’t think I would have even realized that sound was supposed to be a gunshot.


The picture used in the article really caught me off guard, because in 2000 and 2001 I lived there. The fence threw me, as the fence wasn’t there, but I looked it up on Google Maps, and lo.


Deus Ex (a game which lets the player shoot people) gave me far more incentive to explore my emotions about guns and killing than this little art piece did.

I think the very lack of agency that the article praises works against “A Series of Gunshots.” What’s the point of even caring about the presumed violence behind the windows, if I can’t do anything about it? My natural response to gunshots or other disturbing noises is “Investigate. Take steps against any harm taking place.” By closing off those options, this game shut down my proactive attitude and replaced it with a feeling of indifference as the scenes progressed in their dull, inevitable way. If we care about stopping real-world gun violence, I doubt that’s the sort of thing we want to imprint on people.

In Deus Ex, on the other hand, I had agency. I was holding the gun (or grenade, or knife), but the game gave me plenty of encouragement to not use it. I found, for example, that the biggest deterrent to killing was not the screaming and bleeding that I knew would follow, but the talking that came beforehand. Sneaking up on enemy soldiers and listening to their conversations made it harder (emotionally) to kill them later. Then there’s the “regret trap” laid when a group that you fight for a few missions become your allies later. It’s not so comfortable to flip sides and realize that the “bad guys” you killed an hour ago were actually part of a just cause. The multiple approaches that are available for solving levels always leave you wondering, “Did I really have to shoot that guy?” Deus Ex questions the inevitability of violence on a level that “A Series of Gunshots” never reaches.

My point: let’s not judge a game’s ability to promote thought about these topics based on the mere design feature of whether it gives the player control over a gun.

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