The Real Problem With BioShock Infinite’s Box Art: Poor Trigger Finger Discipline

The Real Problem With BioShock Infinite’s Box Art: Poor Trigger Finger Discipline

This weekend there was a big hoopla over BioShock Infinite‘s newly revealed box art. Fans complained that it was too standard and boring, and didn’t even feature Elizabeth, the focal point of the game. Where’s the beautiful sky city? Previous BioShock titles always had the iconic Big Daddy on the covers, what about Songbird? What on this box art even indicates just how unique a game we’re bound to see next year?

But I spotted an entirely different problem on this particular box art. A recurring problem, it seems, when I dug a little deeper and compared BioShock Infinite‘s art with some other recent shooter box art.

It’s all about that trigger finger.

Take a look at Booker DeWitt, shotgun-like weapon resting over his shoulder. Take a look at how he’s holding said shotgun. His hand is tightly gripped on the butt of the gun, but his index finger is also tightly gripped over that trigger. How that thing is not currently firing out behind him is beyond me.

Even if his finger wasn’t tightly squeezing the trigger, the practice of resting your finger inside a gun’s trigger guard (basically the metal part of the gun that houses the trigger) is against the safety rules laid out by almost every organisation, including the NRA. Proper trigger finger discipline dictates that you rest your index finger against the frame of the weapon, not inside the trigger guard.

There are, of course, multiple safety precautions built into the gun. But, as one of New York’s training facilities outlines on their site, “Safety is a mindset, not a lever on a firearm.” Let’s run through why that’s so important to remember.

The NRA and other known gun associations all agree on a fairly standard set of rules. These rules encourage gun users to assume the most dangerous of situations, or at least the potential for them. The gun, as far as you should assume, is always loaded and so should always be pointed in a safe direction. Even if the gun is unloaded, there may be a bullet in the chamber or magazine, or the safety may be off without you realising. The safety could even be worn down from use, and therefore faulty. When ready to fire, the bullet may stray from the target, possibly hitting someone in its vicinity, even behind it. Especially if you’re using a high-powered weapon, the bullet can even penetrate the target and travel through it.

In all these situations, proper trigger finger placement is key. If the safety is off, or if the gun is loaded without you being aware of it, keeping your finger off the trigger will ensure that you’re using it safely. Until you are ready to fire the gun, until you are ready to destroy what you’re pointing at, you should keep your finger off the trigger. It’s far too easy to accidentally pull the trigger because of a spasm or startled response to something. Even the sear — another safety mechanism that acts to hold the hammer or striker back until the proper amount of force is applied — could be faulty. That’s why it’s so important to practice trigger finger discipline. When all else fails, the habit to keep your index finger stretched out alongside your weapon will keep you and everyone around you safe.

Proper trigger finger placement is the mark of someone who knows what they’re doing. For video game characters who wield weapons either professionally or at least consistently across several hours, it’s a pretty glaring error to be posing with a weapon and not practising the most basic of gun safety rules.

But it’s not just BioShock Infinite that violates the proper trigger finger discipline rule. It’s neglected by other games too. Let’s take a look.


Call of Duty: Black Ops II: The soldier’s at least pointing the gun in a (somewhat) safe direction, but does your finger need to be on the trigger here? Maybe there’s an enemy he’s calmly shooting above him while he’s crouched on the ground, who knows.

Max Payne 3: Max himself is reckless in the game, and I suppose it’s to be expected that his enemies are, too.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown: Oddly enough, most other pieces of art from the game (including the in-game barracks screen) feature the soldiers practising proper trigger finger placement. But this box art is another story. Not everyone is a culprit, but the left-most and right-most soldiers certainly seem to be disobeying gun safety rules.

The Darkness II: Aw c’mon Jackie. You almost had it right. And then I looked at your right hand.


Far Cry 3: Vaas may be a psycho villain, but he certainly knows how to hold his weapons. In fact, he has the best trigger finger I’ve seen on a game’s box art in a while.

Battlefield 3: Good job soldier.

Halo 4: Because of course the Chief knows what he’s doing.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter: The game might not be great, but at least the soldiers know what they’re doing.

Spec Ops: The Line: Google this one and you’ll see versions where this soldier isn’t using proper trigger finger discipline, but he does on the official box.

007 Legends: I hear this game is terrible, but I’m not surprised it goes under this section. It is James Bond after all, even if it doesn’t look entirely perfect.


Hitman Absolution: This one is debatable because while our agent’s finger is certainly on that trigger, it seems he’s in the heat of battle. Though it seems to me like he’s back against a wall, peering around the corner, so it might not be entirely necessary just yet. But hey, he’s the professional.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier: This is another heat of the moment situation where this particular soldier might actually need to fire his weapon. And if you look up some other stances, every soldier participates in proper finger placement when otherwise not in action.

Assassin’s Creed III: The official box art is of Connor about to hack into a red coat soldier, but this Game Informer cover has him posing with a pistol too. And he’s definitely got his finger wrapped dangerously around that trigger. Unless he means to shoot a bug (bleh, bugs) he should really be careful about the possibility of ricocheted bullets.

Borderlands 2: Again, not official box art. But Axton looks like he might shoot Salvador, and Salvador could accidentally shoot… something in front of him as well.

Practicing safe gun use is important, and with that comes trigger finger discipline. You can’t be holding a gun without knowing exactly how to hold it.

I’m one of those that enjoys target shooting. You might have even seen me shoot a gun right here on Kotaku for all you guys. And just this weekend while I was celebrating my birthday, I almost got hit by a bullet that had ricocheted to my feet. But my index finger is always stretched across the side of my guns until the very last second when I’m prepared to destroy whatever is in front of me.

If I can do it, all these video game protagonists surely can too.


    • I’m trying to figure out if the whole article is a tongue in cheek poke at all the people dramatising the cover art for Infinite, which would be a interesting move considering Owen Good’s article was basically championing the cause for the complainers.

      • The drama was it being generic as all these and basically the same as uncharteds artwork when they had a chance to make something special showing the games strength in the WWII style as all the fan art floating about shows.

    • As much as this article is just being a little silly it’s a valid observation.

      I’m sure most people who’ve ever had a shooting instructor drill into them the importance of things trigger discipline and safe directions feel something twist inside them whenever they see them being blatantly disregarded in games, movies and whatnot. I know I do.

      The same way gamer cringe a little bit when they see someone on TV playing Halo with a Wiimote. It’s a topic you’re familiar with and can immediately look at and think “that’s not right!”

      So, whilst not in the least bit important I feel it does matter.

    • By itself, no not really, but in a greater sense, yes it certainly does. Every single time I see a person not familiar with firearms pick up, say, a fake gun, their finger goes on the trigger to pose. Obviously there’s no risk there, but what happens if they ever do hold a real one? Their finger will go straight onto the trigger, because that’s the way they’ve been conditioned to hold it based on seeing it in the media. It’s an unintentional habit that could have a very serious consequence.

  • Funny thing is, if you know the basics of firearms safety, you’ll begin to notice every instance where its not followed in TV series & films.

    I’ve never even held a gun, but i notice some reckless handling on tv. I blame TV tropes for this.

  • Based on the apparent movement of 47’s tie and jacket I’m inclined to say he’s in motion, likely about to pop out and fire off a round or two.

  • Seriously, who cares?
    First the article about the tramp who cheated on her husband and said that him letting her die in Diablo was a sign that their marriage was going downhill, now this.
    WTF Kotaku?!

  • I found the concept behind this article amusing initially, then interesting when I realised it was written by somebody “that enjoys target shooting”. It’s much the same as @markserrels writing about climbing and video games. It was written by an author with an obvious passion for the subject matter, I learnt something in the process, and that’s kinda what this site is about.

    If you really have such a violent problem with the content, then you have to wonder what you’re doing reading this site? Of course the subject doesn’t actually matter, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who will find it interesting.

    • Did you miss the part about “always assume the weapon is loaded”?

      Gun safety is important and serious, last thing you want to ever see is someone being shot because you couldn’t follow basic safety directions.

      • Maybe he just don’t care. He’s the action star. It’s a game cover. Bioshock isnt known for its accuracy or representation of real life. So no I didn’t mr smarty pants. I’m just accepting its a crap cover and moving on.

  • Back in my art school days two SASR soldiers came to my studio because they were having a commission done by one of my fellow artists of their time in East Timor.
    They’d bought in an AusStyer rifle and a Minimi SAW. When they held them their fingers were ON the triggers each time, not on the guard, but on the trigger, They weren’t posing at the time or anything like that, just holding the weapons naturally.

    When the soldier handed me the Minimi I put my finger on the guard because that’s how my dad had taught me with guns, but the soldier seemed to think that was weird.

    BTW, that’s not a shotgun. Looks like a “thumper”, grenade launcher gun.

    • Like I said I was a LSW gunner in rainf and that is not the way you are trained to do it. There are three positions acceptable for safety, finger along the top, finger touching the guard or finger wrapped around the pistol grip like the others. (Last two more common on f88 due to its massive trigger guard)…However when you know for a fact there are no rounds nearby for 100km, then as a professional that isnt even remotely in a tactical or exercise environment, it really doesn’t matter if your finger is resting on the trigger. Thats not even including the fact that both f88 and f89s have a “load” state (I assume they had mags and bags on) before you cock it to action and take the safety off for instant (although the minimi must be in instant before returning to safe during action while its cocked), either way there are literally three levels of safety there. Since its more comfortable to just rest your finger there for long periods, eg while posing for art it really doesn’t surprise me they did that…they would have also been amused by your trigger safety being a civilian and again extremely far removed from a range situation.

  • “How that thing is not currently firing out behind him is beyond me.” – Maybe it was already fired? Maybe this picture is taken place after a confrontation, and he is still so wound up he hasn’t let go of the trigger yet.

  • Tina did the thought of reloading evade you? If he has not reloaded the gun it would never fire, the spent cartridge would remain in the chamber until it was ejected by the reloading mechanism. Just remember it all depends on the action of the gun bolt/lever action require a reloading action to prime the next round.

  • First of all they are video games what is the big deal?And are you telling me that in an extremely hostile environment you wouldn’t be holding ready to fire? I have my chl and carry damn near every day I get the point. But, if I was in a warzone of any kind and things could go sour at any moment I would want to be ready to fire the second it is needed.

  • if you play bioshock infinite
    you would know mister Booker Dewitt is under constant attack
    whos to say hes not being attacked right now
    who is to say, that he is not utalizing one of the most jaw dropping kills?
    who is to say, he is not deploying a “blind-fire-from-over-the-shoulder-while-posing-coolio-for-a-camera” kill.
    or maybe you know some how know what the rest of the picture looks like.

  • Thay are games. They are box art. It doesn’t matter when its art. Unless it lloks like they are not going to shot, it doesn’t matter.

    That is all.

  • im just gonna point out the fact that neither the person on the cover of BF3, nor the person on the cover of MoH: Warfighter are soldiers.

    The man on the cover of BF3 is a Marine, and the man on the cover of MoH: Warfighter is an Australian S.A.S.R. operative

    i figured that if you wanted to be so knit-picky, then i should too

  • Am I the only one thinking about that Family Guy episode where Peter sits in class and a girl is talking and he says: oh my god, who the hell caaares’, that’s exactly what I’m thinking right now. They’re videogames, so don’t expect them to follow all the little general rules that we live by in the real world. It’s almost as if people are just looking for something to bitch about for fk sake. Just accept the box art and move on already for crying out loud.

  • Its a winchester like shotgun, If you don’t reloat it, it’s okay to hold the trigger like that ( and problably more confortable).

  • im sure am late on this post , not sure if someone already pointed out ,but the shotgun in the photo .isnt it a pull trigger shotgun . like the old wild west rifles ?

  • I hope this guy is being sarcastic and not serious at all… Because if you could discuss a cover art in an entire article then this guy must not have social skills haha

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