Ragged Flagon

January 6, 2014
by Dan
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I hate the Thieves Guild

The slow drip of water from the ceiling splashed into the puddle at my feet. I hear it echo into the darkness down the tunnel. I slide the axe from my belt and lift my shield. To my side I hear Mjoll heft her sword, Grimsever. Together we will burn this filth from the city and then I will ask her to be my wife. I’ve wanted her for a while, but first I had to recover her lost hammer and now, together, we would put an end to this band of thieves. Then we would marry as warriors.

I open the door to the Ragged Flagon and head around the large cistern full of brown water. At the far end of the room I see them waiting at tables and drinking. They think I’m here to join them, so they are at ease and continue drinking. These are dangerous men, but they are nothing compared to me. The first of the scum approaches to greet me and barely realizes what I intend before my axe smashes into his face knocking him to the ground. The rest are stunned, but they are professional and their blades are quickly unsheathed. As they are circling me and Mjoll, I shout and smash one of them with my shield, the force knocks him to the ground. My axe falls down onto him and then it’s onto the next one. Chaos is all around me. I am the Dragonborn, but they are many… almost too many. I swing my axe until fatigue sets in and then I realize something. They aren’t dying… What sorcery is this? These are thieves and I am the hero of legend! Something is wrong! I see Mjoll struggling to keep this scum down as I struggle to understand what is going on.

Wait… Hold on… Motherfucker! Damn you Bethesda! You glitchy motherfuckers!

According to The Elder Scrolls Wiki the members of the Thieves Guild are essential characters and cannot be killed. There is also no way to actually get rid of the Thieves Guild. So, if you are playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and you are the epic hero who has come to right the wrongs and save everyone, then there is no way to do anything about the Thieves Guild. Ever. There is no way to help Mjoll The Lioness get rid of the Thieves Guild. I can easily get rid of The Dark Brotherhood. They are a bunch of evil assassins, but apparently the Dragonborn is powerless against a few thieves drinking in a sewer.

This constantly pisses me off. Every time I go to Riften I am reminded of my inadequacy. I was planning on marrying Mjoll, but then I was worried she would keep bringing up the Thieves Guild or simply keep reminding me of their continued existence by her mere presence. Now, I’m considering playing the single dad for the remainder of my game. Part of me thinks this is a minor quibble, but the rest of me says fuck that. My frustration is justified. I’m playing Skyrim to get my role-playing on and Bethesda cock-blocked me. You know, because I was going to marry Mjoll.

The real problem is that Skyrim is supposed to be all about choices and allow gamers some freedom in how they want to resolve their problems. If it worked as beautifully as the game looks then I would never stop playing it, but the Thieves Guild isn’t the only time the game truly leaves you almost no choice it’s just the most glaring I’ve found. There is also a pretty sizeable penalty for not being more comfortable with crime. Unless you complete the Thieve’s Guild Quest you will never gain access to one of the Shouts. Why can’t I simply kill the leader of the Thieve’s Guild and take his keys? Or maybe they could have worked a series of quests in where I actually help Mjoll destroy the Thieves Guild. There is no solution. I simply avoid The Ragged Flagon.

I’ve heard that some P.C. modders created a way to get rid of the Thieve’s Guild and I congratulate them on recognizing the inadequacy of Bethesda and resolving to make Skyrim a better place. Unfortunately, I’m playing on an Xbox 360, but it makes me feel better knowing that someone killed those thieves.

 

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

Dragon Quest artwork really big

November 20, 2013
by Dan
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The Best Games Ever: Dragon Warrior

 

In this video we’ll be taking a nostalgic trip back to the early days of role-playing games and discussing Dragon Warrior for the NES. The classic fantasy tale involves a hero of legend, a princess, a magical kingdom and a sorcerer who is also a dragon. When it was originally released in Japan as Dragon Quest it was an instant hit, but when it came to the U.S. gamers weren’t originally interested until Enix and Nintendo practically gave it away. After its success, many RPGs used Dragon Warrior as a foundation for their adventure, borrowing heavily from its plot, gameplay, design, aesthetics and mechanical elements. It’s effects are still clearly visible in dozens of games spanning the decades since its original release and it’s clearly one of the best games ever.

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

I just can't trust you Mr. Wayne

October 23, 2013
by Dan
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I just can’t trust you Mr. Wayne

 

In this video we will be discussing Rockstar and Warner Bros. Montreal’s decisions to not release next generation versions of Grand Theft Auto V and Batman: Arkham Origins on the Xbox One and Playstation 4. Both developers may have blatantly announced their intentions, but cynicism and doubt are leading many gamers to wait just in case their is a better version of these games waiting for next spring. A clear form of Backwards compatibility or an organized way to trade-up to the next gen versions would alleviate some of the distrust, but while these options potentially exist they are incredibly confusing and potentially costly.

 Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

$100 Is the Kinect really worth it

October 9, 2013
by Dan
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$100 Is the Kinect really worth it?

 

 

In this episode we will be discussing Microsoft’s decision to charge $499 for their Xbox One and include a Kinect, thereby denying potential customers options on what to pay for and what to receive. The Kinect may be worth $100, but many Xbox gamers don’t even have the space to use one, so the peripheral is incredibly limited in its usefulness.

 

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

The Real Problem with the Ending of L.A. Noire

May 31, 2013
by Dan
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The Real Problem with the Ending of L.A. Noire

 

 

In this episode we discuss the ending of L.A. Noire and highlight some of the major turning points of Cole Phelps as a character. Phelps is a complex character that did something most other video game characters rarely ever do, he was both dynamic and complex, to the extent that by the end of the game he is a much different person.

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

The Devil wears Hoop-earrings

April 1, 2013
by Dan
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The Devil wears Hoop-earrings

 

 

In this TBGSE video discussion we will be talking about Feminist Frequency by Anita Sarkeesian. She started the series to explore women’s issues in media and pop culture and when she wanted to expand her segments to include video games the reaction from the gaming community was disgusting. Now that her first video about damsels in distress is available let’s talk about some of the points she made.

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

Nintendo is in trouble

February 28, 2013
by Dan
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Nintendo is in trouble

 

 

I hate to say it, but Nintendo is in trouble. I’m saying this as a fan of Nintendo so it’s even harder for me to admit. There is plenty of logical reason’s why I could argue that they need to work on some stuff, but I would like to tell you the worst sign that they may have a serious problem on the way.

Last fall my younger brother asked for an Xbox 360 for Christmas. My brother, who has owned every Nintendo system ever, wanted an Xbox 360 instead of the new Wii U. My brother would rather own an eight-year-old console that originally launched in 2005 than the new Wii U that was released in 2012. Think about that.

He’s actually stuck by the Wii until now. He bought one fairly early on in its cycle and has quite a collection of games. Unfortunately, after years of jealously watching all the other super fun games being released on the PS3 and Xbox 360, he looked at the roster for the Wii U and said, “no more.” Most of what he saw was more of the same and he has had his fill of Nintendo.

“I feel like I’ve missed so many games over the past few years,” he said. “I used to really like playing games and watching shows like X-Play, but now it’s actually kind of sad when I see those shows and there are no games I could get.”

I think the final straw may have been last year when he played From Dust at my house. I told him the game cost around $15 and I could tell there was a tiny moment of despair as he realized this same game would probably have cost much more than that on his Wii and would have required a disc. Showing him how I could download all these excellent games and keep them on my hard drive had to be a little annoying.

“One of the things I like about going to your house is being able to play video games,” he said. “Isn’t that just ridiculous? I have a Wii and I go to your house because you have real video games. Like when I play Call of Duty on the Wii and then play it on your Xbox it feels like a cheap knock-off or something like that.”

He joked about how it would be nice to just shoot people in one of his games. I bought him Mad World for his birthday when it was first released and while he admits that it was good, it would’ve been nice if he felt like there were more games for adults for him to choose from. Creative platformers has kind of been his staple for a while and when Nintendo launched with a Rayman title he knew where this was going.

Oh yeah, and my Xbox 360 has the ESPN app for no reason other than it just does. He’s clearly very angry that his Wii doesn’t even play DVDs.

“I heard the Wii U will play DVDs, which is just fucking stupid because the Wii could actually play DVDs if Nintendo would just allow us to. It has the player, but because Nintendo never put some kind of software on it, my Wii can’t play stupid DVDs. So, I have a Wii and a DVD player hooked up to my TV. How much sense does that make?”

He owns an Ipad, so a Nintendo version of a tablet doesn’t impress him either. Nintendo talks about maybe competing as the second console that gamers would have in their home, but that’s what a tablet is for. My tablet and my brother’s tablet both play a few really good games like Sid Meier’s Pirates!, so why would we need two consoles, a tablet and a PC?

Remake this game!

I’m sure Nintendo is going to sell a ton of Wii Us for the next few months. People will buy them, but what is going to happen when Sony and Microsoft roll out their next system? Sony released some information this past week about their new PS4 and it looks like they are going to make it much easier for developers to work with them. I’m sure Microsoft is going to do the same. Nintendo is going to be left, once again, making their own first-party games and developers are going to have even more incentive to flock to the PC, Xbox 360 and PS4. If Nintendo released one really unique game for the Wii U, (like Pokemon Snap utilizing the Wii U tablet!) I wouldn’t be so pessimistic, but I’m incredibly underwhelmed and so are most of the people I talk to.

Deep down I want Nintendo to keep amazing us with their games, but if they can’t get me and my brother excited enough about their new console to consider buying it, then they are in serious trouble. I have a Legend of Zelda themed Xbox Live gamertag and I’m not even interested in the Wii U! My brother represented the last bastion of my friends who was holding out on the potential that Nintendo has always had and now that he’s gone, who is left and who is going to be around next year when Nintendo has to compete with the next console cycle?

 

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

What I hate about Fallout 3

February 9, 2013
by Dan
0 comments

What I hate about Fallout 3

 

 

Last week I proved how much I love Fallout 3. It is definitely one of the best games I have ever played and while I may have spent way too much time playing it, I’m still grateful for the time I had. Regardless of the love I have for Fallout 3, it took three tries before I was able to finally overcome some of the issues I experienced and actually enjoy playing the game for an extended period of time. I simply got bored of it during the first two times and gave up.

I could be incredibly critical of a few minor things, but I decided that I would stick with my top three issues with the game which will highlight how some of the greatest aspects of Fallout 3 can suddenly fall apart, forcing gameplay to feel like a chore.

Hold on while I get another beer.

How did I solve this problem? It’s actually quite amazing and almost made it onto the list of why I love Fallout 3. Before starting my third attempt at the Capital Wasteland, I was looking online to try and find out how to build my character’s abilities. I had thought that maybe my first two attempts were being held back by poor customization choices I had unintentionally made. I came across a build that was intended to make the gameplay just like a first-person-shooter. I know this was a great moment of discovery because my mind immediately started playing “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin. Between the Perks, Skills, and S.P.E.C.I.A.L., I crafted an experience in the Wasteland devoid of the annoying V.A.T.S. and I was suddenly thrilled to wander through the desolation, immersed in the constant awareness that was necessary to ensure I didn’t walk into a deathclaw or giant radscorpion. My first two playthroughs simply required me to be prepared to turn on V.A.T.S. at any moment, but without V.A.T.S. to rely on, the Wasteland was a constant threat. I know that the folks at Bethesda intentionally made this an option for players like me and I’m grateful, I only wish I had been aware of it during my first attempt and not been made to feel like V.A.T.S. was my only option.

I know many people have said it before, but the second thing I hated about Fallout 3 was the bugs and glitches. I lost hours of gameplay, because of glitches that deeply changed my game. While I enjoyed The Pitt, I was not happy about having to replay it immediately after completing it, because of some random glitch that made all of my followers disappear except Dogmeat. That really annoyed me. It was also incredibly odd to wake up in my house to find one of the Brotherhood of Steel watching me while I slept, then stealing weapons and running away. After I noticed that he took one of my tri-beam laser rifles I got a little mad. I eventually had to follow him around the Wasteland until he picked a fight with a giant radscorpion and got himself killed.

One a separate glitch, I spent much of the game assuming that Charon had died somewhere when all of a sudden I got a message that said “Charon has arrived at the Underworld”. I was stunned to find him sitting at his table in the Seventh Circle after over 100 hours of gameplay with him absent.

During another playthrough as a villain, I lost Jericho and learned about something called the “Megaton Void” where random NPCs will congregate. That took some time to perfectly make the jumps necessary to venture into the void to retrieve him and the actual “void” is far less interesting than it sounds. Fallout 3 has some glitch issues and every time I was forced to replay sections, a little bit more of me wanted to quit playing and give up. This abundance of glitches encouraged me to save frequently and I’m sure that I have several hundred save files on my Xbox chronicling my entire career as The Lone Wanderer.

The last aspect of Fallout 3 that I hated was Mothership Zeta. While exploring the Wasteland I came across the alien crash site and was abducted. At first I thought it was cool, but the novelty quickly wore off. Mothership Zeta has its moments of fun, but I really was abducted and didn’t make a conscious choice about when to do the quest like the other DLCs. On top of that, there was no way to leave once you are abducted, so I couldn’t do it in pieces or anything. Most of the ship is the same alien corridor populated by the same aliens using the same weapons. It really needed to be shorter, especially after leaving the engine core to take the bridge. That’s when it became a long challenge to stay engaged.

Mothership Zeta completely fails when it comes to exploration and you have to remember that exploration is my favorite aspect of the game. The DLC is linear, with very little choice in what to do or how to accomplish your goals. Ammo for my Wasteland weapons was scarce and the aliens had a great deal of health, which made for a series of prolonged firefights where I used the same alien disruptor over and over again. When it came time for the the finale of Mothership Zeta involving ship-to-ship combat, I was less interested in what was going on than I was interested in leaving so I explore once again back on Earth. While the other DLC may have some of these elements, they manage to stay interesting by excelling at a few other aspects. Mothership Zeta has too few good elements that are scattered throughout too long a period of sameness.

I love Fallout 3, but this kind of analysis highlights what made me enjoy it for so long. These examples are what happened when the core elements of the game broke. My freedom of expression and immersion were quickly destroyed by V.A.T.S. and any glitches that occurred. My sense of exploration was curtailed when I was forced to wander around Mothership Zeta. Ultimately, what I’m talking about was probably around 20 hours of uninspired gameplay dispersed into about 400 excellent hours and that’s not a bad ratio. Fallout 3 is still one of the best games I’ve ever played and highlighting its flaws only makes its triumphs shine brighter.

 

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

What I love about Fallout 3

January 31, 2013
by Dan
0 comments

What I love about Fallout 3

 

 

Over the past few months I’ve been spending a lot of time playing Fallout 3 and by a lot of time I mean almost 400 hours. This is actually the most time I’ve ever spent playing any game, so this week I wanted to share some of the experiences that really highlighted why I loved playing Fallout 3. Next week I’ll be doing the opposite of that and essentially discussing why I quit after a few hours and wanted to stop playing from time-to-time.

When is the beginning of Fallout 3? When does the game really start? For me, that moment is when you escape Vault 101. When you look into the destroyed, brown landscape with the wind blowing dust and dirt around you. That is when the game truly begins. Most games struggle with finding a good way to start. There have been so many spectacular games that falter during the first few minutes, but Fallout 3 nails it. The moment when you leave the Vault and suddenly the Wasteland is laid out in front of you to explore, that moment seems to stick in my mind as epitomizing everything that is Fallout 3. You are called “The Lone Wanderer” and at this moment there is no greater sense of loneliness and loss than when you first escape the Vault. On one level you successfully escaped, but on another you escaped into a much harsher place.

When so many games focus on white males, Fallout 3 must have one of the most diverse cast of characters around. One of the greatest accomplishments of the game must be the prominent role women play in it. For example, Fallout 3 has many women doctors; Red, Cutter, Madison Li, for example. The Wasteland is a place with little to no educational opportunities and these women are doctors. Women are also some of the coolest characters in the game being portrayed as explorers and soldiers. Sentinel Sarah Lyons, Star Paladin Cross, Reilly, Sydney and Machete are all women portrayed as warriors and soldiers. The racial diversity of Fallout 3 is highlighted even more when you look at the women I just named; Red is African, Cutter is Caucasian, Madison Li is Asian, Sarah Lyons is Caucasian, Cross is African, Reilly is Caucasian, Sydney is Asian and Machete is Hispanic. It’s as though somebody at Bethesda had a clipboard and was marking off as many different combinations of people they could come up with. The icing on the cake is that Sydney, who is one of my favorite characters in the game, may be a lesbian. It’s never explicit, but there are several indications if you spend enough time with her. It’s as though society crumbled, but so did any racial, gender, or sexual bias that was part of society.

Exploration has always been one aspect of gaming that I’ve enjoyed. For a game to truly draw me in there needs to be a compelling story or an emphasis on exploration. While Fallout 3 does have a good story, the exploration carries it through. Early on in my wandering I came across a group of people who believed they were vampires. I had actually been searching for a boy who I believed had been taken by Raiders, but when I was initially welcomed by the vampires my astonishment grew as it dawned on me who they were. The boy had actually killed his parents and fled with the group. Once I had discovered what was going on, I initially intended to kill the vampires, but I realized that they were actually fairly peaceful and not at all a threatening group of people. Exploration doesn’t always mean scenery. For me, it means setting out to find an adventure and that doesn’t always include fighting. After I had completed this early quest I realized what kind of a game I was playing. My expectations were about a daring rescue at gunpoint, but after looking at the situation it became a negotiation.

I’m sure everyone always talks about the atmosphere when they bring up Fallout 3, but I’m definitely going to do it again. One of the reasons people fall in love with Fallout is because of the detail with which the universe is built. The details that the designers went through to build the Capital Wasteland was immense. There are buildings that were destroyed in the nuclear blasts and then there are buildings that have simply fallen apart and become dilapidated. Bethesda had spent so much time crafting different sections and considering how they would appear to the player that while the game at a glance is a blend of brown and grey different parts of the city feel unique. Even elements like dirt and dust floating in the air while exploring a building add to the sense of decay. Each detail that was crafted into the game makes the experience more vivid. It is these details that encourages you to explore. When every new location could yield a variety of adventures it’s hard to stop playing.

Many people discuss the narrative and the overall story of the Lone Wanderer when they talk to me about Fallout 3, but this is a tricky subject. The story of my character always felt unique to me. I’m sure other players made similar choices, but the choices I made shaped the way I perceived the game, I was the hero. I was the One True Messiah and there was no doubt in my mind what choice I would make in any given situation. I would be the hero. In a separate playthrough I spent some time being the villain. I saw how my villainous actions affected the Wasteland and for me it was never as much fun as choosing to be the hero. That’s the defining feature of these kind of games for me. I really like having the choice between hero and villain, but even when I’m given the choice, I will choose hero, because that’s just me. The choice matters a lot to me. I’m choosing my own identity and that draws me into the game more than any other superficial choices about my character.

Choosing to be the hero is what brings me to my next aspect I love about Fallout 3; the moral ambiguity. When the game confronts me with a situation that really makes me think about what the “right” choice to make is, it encourages me evaluate and consider all the possibilities that the game has for me. It forces me to take action and then justify my decision. Most of the situations have a clear right and wrong, but there is just enough to lull you into sense of security for when a big one comes around. When you find yourself having to really consider the ramifications of your actions. The kind of situation that you regret. It is when you find yourself feeling justified in killing a mother and father and stealing their child. These moral ambiguities are what really bring the game into your life. It’s these choices that we think about long after we are done playing and what brings the game home.

Next week, I’ll be talking about all the things that I hated in Fallout 3 and most of them have to do with situations where the game suddenly stopped playing to these strengths. My favorite aspect of Fallout 3 is the exploration. Exploring the Capital Wasteland and wandering around the ruins of D.C. was amazing. Spending time hearing that haunting music accompany me as I see the sun rise is some of the best gameplay I’ve ever experienced. While part of me wants to dive back in for another 400 hours, the other part of me wanted to quit in frustration on a regular basis.

 

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

NRA Practice Range main image

January 24, 2013
by Dan
0 comments

NRA claims video games are to blame for shootings then release their own

 

 

I was going to start a series of articles about Fallout 3 this week, but then the National Rifle Association actually gave me cause to go after it. You see, a few weeks ago the NRA revived the incredibly old argument about violence in video games being to blame for all the ills of our society. This argument has been around for almost as long as we have had video games. The first great milestone in the constant fight came in 1992 when Mortal Kombat was released and brought the debate into the spotlight as politicians, church leaders, activists and many other concerned citizens were suddenly appalled at digital sprites ripping each other’s limbs off.

Now, I’m going to try and stay focused on one particular issue, because treading into this topic is like a swamp. There is a ton of ground to cover and it’s easy to get lost. On Sunday, the NRA released a video game for the Ipad called Practice Range. The game is essentially free, but offers a few downloads that cost money. Practice Range has three courses of targets and a variety of guns to choose from. You shoot the targets. It’s pretty basic. It’s actually kind of a poor game as the controls are inaccurate and I had the best results while standing and spinning in a slow circle. A few details to understand is that on the pistol course you shoot at person-shaped targets and on one outdoor course you shoot the M16, AK47 and Dragunov rifles. And yes, the M16 is labeled M16, not AR-15, the civilian equivalent that was used last month in the Sandy Hook shooting.

If this game had come out a few months ago it would have passed without a thought, but it came out just a few weeks after the NRA tried to push blame for the recent shootings onto video games, movies, TV, music and whatever other things NRA Executive President Wayne LaPierre thinks are turning people into killers, let’s go with atheists. At a December 21 press conference specifically addressing the tragedy at Sandy Hook he said, “There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people, through vicious, violent video games with names like ‘Bulletstorm,’ ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ ‘Mortal Kombat’ and ‘Splatterhouse.’”

Now comes my personal disclaimer. I love guns. I’m from Dodge City, Kansas and growing up in the Wild West my heroes were Wyatt Earp and Batt Masterson. I actually have a distant relation who was killed in a gunfight with Wyatt Earp in Dodge City. If you’re going to try to shoot somebody like Wyatt Earp in the back, you had better kill him with one shot. But despite all the Gunsmoke and Rifleman I watched as a kid, I do not like the NRA. That does not mean I don’t like NRA members. I get along wonderfully with most NRA members. My favorite gun is the Colt 1911 and I firmly believe that the pistol was retired from military service unnecessarily and would have been more than capable of a full century of service and I’m almost certain that after one or two beers you would agree with me.

Anyway, one of the greatest tactics that the NRA employs is misdirection. By introducing into the discussion about gun violence things like video games, movies, music, atheists and robots it causes people to look at other things to blame for tragedy. It gets journalists to broaden their discussion and go chasing after red-herrings. Thirty minute segments about gun violence get watered down to include a discussion about violence in video games. The NRA throws these out because some people will believe them. Some people will conduct door-to-door searches for violent video games and those idiotic events will get covered. The NRA has money, power and thousands of paying members and getting everyone worried about a 20-year-old video game is easy and it serves their purpose. The NRA’s game Practice Range is indicative of their hypocrisy. Video games are violent, but not ours. Our guns don’t kill people, other people’s guns kill people.

The difference is that I’m willing to admit that video games and other forms of entertainment are violent, but entertainment and media don’t actually kill people. Guns actually kill people and taking steps to make the country safer isn’t the same thing as abolishing the Second Amendment. LaPierre is so focused on his Second Amendment rights that he’s pushing to curtail First Amendment rights.

Don’t let the NRA distract you and don’t let them push you into defending video games, movies, music, comic books, atheists, transformers or hobbits. There is a very real, very practical discussion to be had about gun violence and while games like Practice Range distract us, they also highlight the fact that the NRA isn’t serious about what they say and we, as a country, are going to have this discussion whether they participate or not.

 

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.