Constantly you have to justify playing video games. Even today. All the serious newspapers and magazines write about them, but the prejudices of the general public run deep. “It’s just shooting stuff!” No matter how many aspects of art and craft come together to create a piece of work like this, no matter how touching the story – video games are Farmville. I no longer lead these conversations defensively, but instead dive head first into them full of optimism and conviction. Anyone who still ridicules video games per se is not to be taken seriously. No one has to play them, but keep your baloney to yourselves. I play RiME and Hollow Knight and God of War and Life is Strange and all you see is guns.
But I also don’t need to explain the guns anymore. They can be awesome. So while we’re on the topic: Let’s talk about weapons!
Indisputably the best weapon that has ever found its way into a video game is the cerebral bore. Now, of course, everyone’s mind is wandering to the brutal death metal band from Glasgow, but where did they get their name? Of course, from the brain-boring weapon in the Turok series. By that example alone you can see how much influence video games have on sophisticated culture. I was so happy whenever I got my hands (or claws) on one of these in multiplayer. Like the blue shell in Mario Kart, the drill embarks out of the muzzle of the brain drill launcher, seeks out an opponent’s head with pinpoint accuracy, clings to it, and drills… well… the brain to pieces. The horror of my friends sitting next to me when I picked one up, the rather long death animation ( shaking, twitching, collapsing, lying there motionless), and most of all the fact that the thing was called a cerebral bore. Mario Kart Schadenfreude level, but with gore: just wonderful.
But just because you’ve already chosen the obvious winner, there’s no reason not to honor other excellent murder tools. There’s the super sheep from the Worms games. Similar situation: everyone is waiting in fear when it takes off. A living sheep, stuffed with a massive bomb, which remotely finds its way across the entire map to where particularly cowardly worms are hiding. It looks forward to the mission and gives a happy “Baa!” as it departs, just like Shaun the Sheep at the end of an episode when all is well again. But all is not well for the super sheep. The super sheep gets torn to shreds. Unlike the cerebral bore, however, the sheep wasn’t always on target, and the funniest exploding sheep were exploding early on. The comic anticlimax after tense anticipation of a devastating move.
And speaking of the blue shell – it clearly does not belong in this article, as it became far too powerful after its introduction in Mario Kart 64 and is kind of lame nowadays. Quite the contrary can be said about its unassuming little brother, the green shell. Landing a hit from the optimal angle during an extended turn in a powerslide, factoring in distance and speed, without the cheap homing technology of the red counterpart – a treat. You feel so mighty that you forget you’re riding Toad through a brightly colored funland.
I could praise eighty-seven more weapons. The adrenaline already creeps into my fingertips as I write these lines. But this blog is one of few words! And so I may have to make it a series. Series are almost as good as guns. But what the hell, one more won’t hurt. Not the sniper rifle from Unreal Tournament. Not the gravity gun from Half-Life 2. Not the cow launcher from that bad South Park game. I instead give you: killer7’s Con Smith. Con Smith doesn’t have guns, he is a gun. His two handguns are an extension of his body. He holds them at an angle. Both of them. On top of each other. For no reason. He is shaped like this. Everything happens in one fluid motion. Running, shooting, reloading. Saying “fuck you.” Con Smith is blind. Guns don’t need eyes.
It is worth asking the multifaceted question of what kind of depiction of violence in video games can be problematic. I don’t have a closed opinion on this, but dealing with it moves me forward. What I would never deny in the process, also because it is part of the problem: The many moments in which I had joy with virtual violence. Because it’s funny, spectacular, or actually exciting. And that’s OK, as long as you don’t stop to engage with the ramifications. Maybe I’ll introduce some more weapons here soon. Or maybe I’ll take a moral approach to the subject. You never know what’s going to happen at WALL JUMP.
This post is also available in: German