The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) has levelled some fairly damning accusations at the video game community within the past month.
During NRA executive VP Wayne LaPierre's defiant speech following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, he referred to the gaming industry as "a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people".
So, naturally, the NRA's decision to release its own gun-packed video game on the one-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting has raised a few incredulous eyebrows.
Now, before we go off the deep end here, the game in question, NRA: Practise Range
, does not contain any actual bloodshed.
In fact, it's a gallery shooter in its purest form. So, you have a choice of nine weapons, which you can use to shoot a variety of inanimate targets.
According to NRA: Practise Range
's App Store description, the game "instils safe and responsible ownership through fun challenges and realistic simulations", and "strikes the right balance of gaming and safety education".
Indeed, the game's loading screen flashes up statistics about the success of its "gunsafe" program, and educational tidbits like "always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction".
Given the NRA's stance on violent video games, it's easy to accuse the organisation of hypocrisy when it decides to use the same "callous and corrupt" industry to make a quick buck.
Were the accusation levelled at LaPierre, though, we suspect he would point out that NRA: Practise Range
contains no killing, and does not fetishise death the way a game like, say, Bulletstorm
Of course, though it doesn't depict the act of murder, NRA: Practise Range
arguably extols or glorifies the act of shooting, and gun ownership in general.
Also, some of the targets are clearly shaped to resemble the human form, providing players with an approximated torso and head to aim for.
If LaPierre & co. were truly worried about the supposedly destructive influence of video games on young people's minds, perhaps they should stick with targets which don't resemble people.From the barrels of babes
The game's age rating has also caused some controversy.
NRA: Practise Range
carries a rating of 4+, meaning it has been judged as suitable for children of four years old and over.
Though we fail to see how a game which teaches players how to fire an M16 could be considered suitable for nursery school children, this rating may have more to do with the idiosyncrasies of Apple's approval system than the machinations of the NRA.Cheap shot
We do, however, have difficulty reconciling the NRA's negative stance on the video game industry with its taste in developers.
You see, although NRA: Practise Range
is an officially licensed NRA product, it was developed and published by a company called MEDL Mobile.
As well as selling and promoting NRA: Practise Range
, MEDL Mobile has also published a game called Boxhead
, a gory zombie shooter which bears the tagline "Prepare for mayhem; things are about to get bloody".
It seems that by working in conjunction with MEDL Mobile, the NRA has slipped quietly into bed with the very industry it claims to be opposing.
We'd make a remark about not throwing stones in glass houses at this point, but we know the NRA doesn't like to throw stones. It prefers bullets.
You and your four-year-old can download NRA: Practise Range
free for iPhone and iPad now.