The NRA recently decried violent video games as the cause of youth violence. Anyone with a scant amount of video game knowledge knows that the NRA is full of it on this point, but are you curious why they stick to that talking point so vehemently even though it's been disproved time and time again?
The answer to that question may lie in the NRA's several failed attempts at breaking into the video game market.
In 2004, they released the "first in a series" of sponsored video games called NRA Varmint Hunter. They describe it as "stunningly realistic" and both "fun and educational."
"This is the future of shooting games. Small animals are the new Nazis."
They handle the "stunningly realistic" part by making you spend a maddening 10 seconds reloading each time you run out of shots. This is because, in their words, there is a "world of reloading" that is for some reason ignored in other shooting games. We can't possibly imagine why that would be.
The "fun" part is covered provided you enjoy blowing the cutest of nature's animals to high heaven for no particular reason. As for the education, we simply had no clue that a prairie dog explodes in a puff of smoke and flies out of sight when you shoot it in the face. That was a revelation, to say the least.
Little-known fact: Prairie dogs are 40 percent sawdust.
But let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes sequels are a lot better.
NRA Gun Club, released for the PS2 in 2006, is -- surprise! -- an abomination. A more interesting game can be accidentally created by randomly typing 0s and 1s in a computer's command prompt, because the act of doing so is more fun.
NRA Gun Club assumes that you just want to look at guns, because you shoot targets that don't move. For an organization that would blow Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson if given the chance, it's amazing that they didn't give a shit about how realistic the guns are. You point at the target and shoot. Ten points. Or five points. The points are more meaningful on Whose Line Is It Anyway?
The blobs on the strings are somehow worth less points.
There's no music anywhere in the game. Some poor guy who's doing the voice-over has to push you to keep playing, because there's no reason to. If anything, this game, which somehow got a 1.5 rating out of 10 on IGN, probably discouraged people from ever shooting real guns, because it made them realize that it's nothing like Call of Duty.
Amazingly, there were more of these. Before the train wreck that was NRA Varmint Hunter, the NRA released Xtreme Accuracy Shooting for PC, cementing their reputation for being hilariously out of touch.
"$10 off an NRA membership? That totally makes up for the shallow gameplay and laughable graphics," said no one ever.
To their credit, this one's a little more realistic. In fact, it's so realistic that if you don't know what "an octagonal-designed receiver made from 7075 T-6 aircraft-quality aluminum with chrome-molly inserts" is, you might as well not even be playing. The game features a gun workbench that lets you tinker with case trimmers, flash hole tools, powder clicks, jing-tinglers, and flu-floppers.
Only then are you ready to get out on the range. With a stationary gun.
"This giant rifle looks kinda wussy. Let's stick some pink flames on it."
Finally, there's NRA High Power Competition. This is basically the same type of target game, except you get to shoot while prone and there's an in-game store that is rendered completely pointless once you discover that continuously clicking "Next Season" acts as a magic button giving you unlimited money. The only real challenge is deciding why you shouldn't be doing literally anything other than playing this awful game.
This checkered gaming past points to one obvious conclusion: The NRA wants to ban violent video games because they don't want you to find out how shitty they are at making them.
Chris blogs over at Laffington.com.