'NRA: Practice Range' Video Game Undeservedly Takes Heat From Critics


The NRA is making headlines again, this time for releasing a new video game aimed at iPhone and the iPad mobile devices. The game, NRA: Practice Range, is styled as a first-person shooter game that teaches players who to shoot targets at a shooting range.  Players fire a variety of handguns and rifles at stationary targets and earn points for accuracy. CNN noted: "The game is free, although for 99 cents, players can upgrade their firearms and 'unlock' an MK11 sniper rifle. The game includes a handful of tips on gun safety." Former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, himself no stranger to controversy, defended the game on CBS This Morning saying, "My understanding is that it's a gun safety app, and it's for young hunters to learn gun safety ... But I would just recommend that people watch the entire app before they render judgment."

video game designer and theorist Ian Bogost, professor of interactive computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said: "The NRA blamed violent media instead of gun ownership for the tragedy, singling out video games in particular. But from the NRA's perspective, the practice range game is not a violent game. The player only discharges firearms at paper and clay targets. For the NRA, it offers a model of responsible gun use,"

In case people haven't noticed, most first person shooter video games are quite violent ... even many designed for mobile platforms. For instance, IGNentertainment's Frontline Commando features blood spray and splatter and allows players to engage enemies with "head shots" or to target a shot to the head.

By comparison, NRA: Practice Range is not only quite tame in gameplay, but the graphics are quite dated (the late-80's called, they want their game back).   

Once again, it seems that it's not a matter so much of what was done (or said) as who did (or said) it, and criticism of the NRA in this case is largely due to the fact the NRA's name is on the game.