The NRA, Which Blames Shooting Games for Gun Violence, Has Just Released a Shooting Game

The game is an example of a hot trend: The gamification of many aspects of life that used to be addressed by lectures, pamphlets, informational videos and the like. 

The NRA, Which Blames Shooting Games for Gun Violence, Has Just Released a Shooting Game

Videogames are among the suspects that the National Rifle Association blames for gun violence in the United States. In his press conference after the Newtown massacre, for instance, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre called game makers "a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people." So the rest of us are entitled to ask, aren't we, why the NRA just released a free app for iOS that teaches how to shoot? Especially since, as Annie-Rose Strasser noticed, the first screen shot that pops up on the game's page is of coffin-shaped targets, with helpful red marks at head and heart level. (That screenshot is my illustration for this post.)

We know the NRA has decided to take an in-your-face, arm-the-janitors, guns-don't-kill-people, movies-tv-bad-laws-and-games-and-the-kitchen-sink kill people approach to changing politics of gun safety, so I guess this is not a surprise. So from their P.O.V., why delay releasing the app? It is, after all, a public-education tool, which, according to the app description, "instills safe and responsible ownership through fun challenges and realistic simulations." The "official NRA licensed product" also, of course, gives you "2d Amendment newsfeeds" and "gun law information centers," presumably so you can help raise the alarm against restrictive gun laws. Unless, of course, you're a kid. The app is rated OK for anyone 4 years old or older.

In fact, the game is an example of a hot trend: The gamification of many aspects of life that used to be addressed by lectures, pamphlets, informational videos and the like. Gamification is an example of the way we're moving into a post-rational world, in which the old 20th century premise—people are rational, just give them the information they need—is being replaced by another: People will respond much more to information when it comes to them in the form of an engaging game. (Gamification is one reason I've kind of lost interest in debates about how rational people really are. Because corporations, lobbyists and governments increasingly use powerful post-rational techniques to influence us, regardless of whether we believe in those techniques or not.)

So, O.K., the N.R.A. has gamified both the business of teaching people to be safe and sober gun users and the business of rousing the grass roots for political action. How well? I don't know. I've downloaded the game (it's free, though it costs 99 cents to upgrade its gun to something more exciting, like an MK 11 sniper rifle) but I haven't tried it yet. You have to wonder, though, about those coffin-shaped targets. Did some developer go rogue? Or do shooting ranges offer real-life versions? Either way, is that particular trip necessary?

Follow me on Twitter: @davidberreby

Live on Monday: Does the US need one billion people?

What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.

Should you grow a beard? Here's how women perceive bearded men

Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"

Photo Credit: Frank Marino / Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
  • Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
  • Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Keep reading Show less

Learn innovation with 3-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn

Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live.

Big Think LIVE

Having been exposed to mavericks in the French culinary world at a young age, three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn made it her mission to cook in a way that is not only delicious and elegant, but also expressive, memorable, and true to her experience.

Keep reading Show less

Ultracold gas exhibits bizarre quantum behavior

New experiments find weird quantum activity in supercold gas.

Credit: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • Experiments on an ultracold gas show strange quantum behavior.
  • The observations point to applications in quantum computing.
  • The find may also advance chaos theory and explain the butterfly effect.
  • Keep reading Show less

    3 cognitive biases perpetuating racism at work — and how to overcome them

    Researchers say that moral self-licensing occurs "because good deeds make people feel secure in their moral self-regard."

    Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash
    Personal Growth

    Books about race and anti-racism have dominated bestseller lists in the past few months, bringing to prominence authors including Ibram Kendi, Ijeoma Oluo, Reni Eddo-Lodge, and Robin DiAngelo.

    Keep reading Show less
    Scroll down to load more…