Is The Decision To Buy Call Of Duty Or Battlefield A Moral Choice?

Before you skip everything in this video and run straight to the comments, understand the question: Many (not "most"; not "all") shooter video games feature licensed, real-world firearms. Gunmakers are compensated for the appearance of their brands as much as the NFL Players Association is paid for its members appearing in Madden. Does this present a moral choice to a video gamer?

This is not equating video game violence to real-world violence. The narrator of this piece, Mike Rugnetta of PBS' Idea Channel, explicitly says so. But if you are disposed against the US firearms industry and its chief lobbyist, the NRA, which uses video games as an intellectually dishonest diversion in its argument against any form of gun control, you should consider that which you buy.

Yep, some games feature all the violence of Medal of Honor with none of the real world weapons. Think Halo. (Think even more over-the-top, like Bulletstorm. Does anyone make an exploding-charge flail gun?). Electronic Arts also has challenged the idea that some appearances of real-world military vehicles in video games requires the consent of their manufacturers, so who's to say this wouldn't extend, in some uses, to firearms. There are other edge cases, too; not every game featuring a gun is money paid to a gun maker.

Still, for conscientious gamers, the most troublesome aspect of a realistic shooter may not be that it "trains" or desensitises a civilian to the use of a real, military purpose assault weapon. It's that buying those games helps finance the lie that they do.

YouTube Video Uploaded by PBS IdeaChannel


    Needs more fast cuts and pop culture references.

      I know right, not quite enough at two million or so...

    It's not a moral choice because you're kind of suggesting that there's one particular moral code that's acceptable. Education on these issues is important but in terms of morality, you learn and then you decide. You don't tell people what to care about, you educate them and them make up their own minds.

    For me, it is. I do decide who i want to give my money to and more often than not, firearms manufacturers are pretty darn low on the list.

    I'm not pro-firearm personally, I'm also not anti-firearm but I can discern reality from fantasy. This videos point was all across the place like a stormtrooper shooting at a barn. (apparently they can only hit sandcrawlers...) but I had a truly hard time figuring out what exactly this guys point was given the amount of times he seemed to contradict himself and backtrack through this video?

    No it cannot present a moral conundrum at all. Unless you're playing Postal 1 2 or 3 then you should be kicked square in the nuts.

      You have to kind of read in between all the crap his talking about to understand him. Basically his target audience is the people who are against firearms and love gaming, not you or me because we will answer with "no because this doesn't affect me"

      If you are that type of person who cares about both, he then questions whether we know that some games you purchase may have licensing for the firearms in their game and because of this, you are indirectly supporting the firearms industry (those that get funded from licensing agreements)

      Now that you're that type of person, are you faced with a moral choice of purchasing a game that you supposedly love when it will support the guns you hate so much?

    Play Fall of Cybertron, problem solved!

      But then you're giving money to Megatron!!!!!

        Lol I'd say I was giving my money to the Autobots.

          Actually you're giving money to Hasbro, who gives money to Michael Bay.... WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!

          I have already pledged that money to Unicron

    I think it's only a moral dilemma if someone is really anti-gun. For average people, not so much. However, I think the question should instead be "is it hypocritical of the US firearms industry and the NRA to demonize video games when game developers pay gun companies for the right to depict their guns in said games?"

    Guys...BOTH of those games are terrible.

    I own 2 handguns and spend every Sunday morning using them legally and safely in my local gun club range because its fun and compete in competitions. Using a gun in video games doesn't have that same feel and skill you need when using a real one but at least using guns in video games no one gets hurt, its all good fun and it doesn't burn your wallet.

      While that's all well and good, that's not the point of the video. The video is asking if it is a moral dilemma for people to buy these video games when the developers pay money to the firearms industry for the right to portray real world guns in their games. Of course, whether or not it's a moral dilemma depends on the individual and their personal opinions, but the video was interesting nevertheless (I mean, when you ignore all the pop culture references and constant cutting to and fro).

        I like to know how much the developers pay the gun companies and the gun companies are using video games as advertisement for their products.

          While FPS games aren't my forte, I'm sure there would be weapons included that are based on real guns that aren't actually legally available to your average gamer, so I suspect it's less about advertisement and more about realism.

            Aren't a lot of those guns available as civilian models in the US?

    Does the same apply to guns used in movies?

      No. The guy in the video said that the guns that appear in movies are generic models and not based on real guns. Basically, those guns are whatever the props department comes up with. Because they're just generic props and no real world models or specs are shown or mentioned, the firearms industry is not paid anything for the right to portray said props.

        He's completely wrong on that point - outside of Sci Fi, guns in movies and TV are almost always replicas of real models, or real guns firing blanks or wadded ammo.
        Movies and TV shows featuring police or armed forces will often feature the same weapons used by their real life counterparts to add realism, e.g. in the TV show NCIS, all agents use Sig Sauer 228's, as do agents of the real life NCIS.
        The Internet Movie Firearms Database has a fairly comprehensive listing by movie / show, or by gun type:

    He doesn't suggest that there is only one acceptable moral code, in fact he's very careful to say that this issue may not be in contradiction of everyone's moral code (and that everyone has to make their own decision).

    He does say that if YOU think that promoting guns is "wrong", then you need to decide whether purchasing a product that supports them is also wrong, under your own moral code.

    To say that there is no UNIVERSAL moral code, therefore there are no moral choices, is simple nonsense. For you it may not be a moral choice, but for others it may well be.

    Play Arma if you want realism.

      I remember chuckling at the HUGE list of licensed products ARMA II mentions in its splash screen.

    He has a point - if you really dislike the NRA and the companies that mostly fund the NRA, you shouldn't be giving money to them, and if you buy games with real fire-arm names, some of that money goes to the gun manufacturers.

    But unfortunately, in this crazy day and age, it's almost impossible to live in the Western World without giving your money to something you don't want. If I buy vegemite, some of my money is going to the Altria group, formerly known as Philip Morris. Hell, just by paying TAXES some of my money is going towards buying defense/warfare related items.

    I don't like pervasive fire-arms ownership - but you know what? I don't really blame the gun manufacturers. I blame the governments who are so corrupt and dependent on lobbyist money that they refuse to try to fix the solution. Congress and the Senate deserve your contempt.

      This ^

    I definitely can't fault him on his love of NBC's Community!

    Weapons have been mass produced for thousands of years, and there's a reason for that. It would be less nonsensical to ask if enabling car manufacturers is a moral decision.

      It's the exact same moral conundrum. If you're opposed to, say, BP for any of the multitude of reasons to hate BP, you might want to think twice about purchasing certain games. Castrol branding and advertising often appears in racing games. Castrol is a subsidiary of BP. If the game-makers paid Castrol licensing fees to use their brand on billboards to make their racecourse look more 'genuine', and you subsequently buy the game, you are indirectly supporting BP.

    Whoa whoa whoa... I don't like gun culture, and think there should be less guns. however I aint going to give up playing videos games.

    There's probably some weird capitalism argument about paying money to gun companies for virtual guns, if more people do that than real guns. They will make less real guns and focus on licensing virtual ones????

    Interesting food for thought. Nicely written amd read. Also a thing to consider is that a licensing fee is a one off charge, it's not dependant on the number of sales or some kind of royalties system. So don't make the mistake of thinking that every copy of a game that gets purchased adds a little more money to arms manufacturers. That's not to say that purchasing the game isn't support arms manufacturers however.

    i don't live in America - so i don't care about the NRA or guns, give them money, don't give them money, i still don't live in America, go figure.

    To me, as an Australian, gun laws aren't an issue. We've had strict gun laws for a long time and they've only gotten stricter and there's no debate about it. The fact is guns are still a necessity in life and need to be produced.

    There is a moral question in buying these games however. The storyline in COD is insultingly stupid and force feeds militarism down our throats which is more dangerous. Look, I know the stories aren't based on truth but I swear it plays a big cultural part in how many people perceive war geo- politics. I think there's some study that shows people still thinking Russia is still a war threat to USA. Hell Romney thought this and people will be inclined to believe him in the way eastern-Europeans are depicted in the game.

      Agreed, although, I don't think it's militarism as much as it's jingoism. There's a definite sense of 'Murica!' and "might makes right" in that particular series (and to a lesser extent in others), and it definitely shapes the way young people thing towards international politics. Kids I know who play shooters are surprised to know how the actual, post cold war situation is and it's a definite American cultural characteristic of seeing the Russians as an untrustworthy adversary, even though you could name about 10 nations who are far more adversarial and beligerent towards the US. I supose Cold War paranoia has a lot to answer for that, but 20-22 years later, it should hardly be a factor. It doesn't help when companies resort to lazy Cold War-esque themes to sell contemporary products.

    That was interesting.

    My eyes are now open; I will now refuse to play any game with a Justin Bieber song as to not support the Justin Bieber industry.

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