GoldenEye blazed a trail

With gun control and related violence a topical subject in the U.S. and among interested parties and spectators worldwide, the role of video games has faced its own level of scrutiny. Major publishers had a meeting with vice-President Joe Biden as part of his gun control task-force work, while a number of moderate and extreme — occasionally provocative — commentators have had their say.

While it can be tempting to brush the link off as irrelevant, deeper investigation suggests that the industries of powerful weapons and video games are tied, through licensing deals and realistic portrayals in games. Interestingly, in an extensive investigative article published by Eurogamer, an early link to the emergence of realistic 3D gun representation in games is highlighted as GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64. Martin Hollis, the creator of the game, said the following about the gun models and, ultimately, the licensing issues that gave them iconic new names.

Most of the guns in the game were modelled on real weapons. The Walther PPK, Kalashnikov AK47, FN P90 and so on.

I was not pleased [on hearing real names couldn't be used] because it would decrease the realism, or at least verisimilitude. I assumed novelists and filmmakers have no compulsion to license. We removed the real gun names, replacing them with fictional ones - sometimes based on team members' initials and sometimes on a sense of authenticity. So we have the DD44 Dostovei named after [GoldenEye designer] David Doak, the Klobb after Ken Lobb and the PP7 because... It just sounds good.

The industry has evolved a great deal since then, with franchises such as Call of Duty and Battlefield using real guns, while EA's Medal of Honor Warfighter notoriously marketed real gun and knife manufacturers on a dedicated website. Money passes both ways between some video game publishers and gun manufacturers, a reality that makes debate about gun violence in games at least relevant.

We strongly recommend reading the full article on Eurogamer, Shooters: How Video Games Fund Arms Manufacturers. We'll be sharing our own view on Nintendo's current place in this area of the video game industry, and related issues, tomorrow......