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From Real-World Shooting Sports to First-Person Shooter Games
First-person Shooter (FPS) games have been a staple of the gaming industry for decades. Ever since gaming entered the online age, first-person shooters have been steadily at the top of the charts.
Today, the first-person shooter market is doing better than ever. The two best-selling games of 2017, Call of Duty: WWII and Destiny 2, are both first-person shooters.
What’s so enthralling about the FPS experience? The games mentioned above, Destiny and Call of Duty, present very different games on the surface.
Destiny is an RPG, where the player kills mobs and bosses to gather loot. Call of Duty, on the other hand, is more of a stripped-down game that focuses primarily on the multiplayer experience.
FPS games are more about the core mechanic than anything else. There’s a reason these shooters are so popular, as their roots date back to one of the oldest sports humans created.
Shooting Sports: The First FPS
Shooting is one of the oldest sports known to man. People have always practiced shooting through sport, with roots in competitive shooting dating back to ancient Egypt. The Germans created the first shooting clubs in the 13th and 14th century. They used bows and muskets before moving on to more advanced firearms.
Shooting sports originated out of necessity. People needed to be able to fire a gun efficiently, and marksmen began to compete as a way to stay sharp. In the American frontier, people had to protect themselves and hunt for food. Eventually, the best shooters began to compete to see who had the most accurate shot.
As the world became more stable and the need for an accurate shot lessened, shooting gravitated towards sport. Many people hunt with a gun to this day, but most of them are hunting for fun rather than food.
Competitive shooting developed as the practical need for shooting diminished. The best shooters entered competitions, and some even made it to the Olympic games.
Now, some of the best shots in the world will be shooting at inanimate targets far more than they’ll shoot animals or other people. They display their rifles on hold up displays for everyone to see.
The Skills of Shooting
Although real-life shooting requires more physical skill than a first-person shooter does, FPS games need a similar skillset. To be one of the best, a player has to have good decision making, superb judgment, situational awareness, phenomenal reaction time, and a quick trigger finger.
In fact, the skills of firing a real gun transfer to skill in a first-person shooter video game. Real-life accuracy means you’re a better shot in the game.
Even more surprisingly, video game skill translates into real-life shooting skills. Police departments and military personnel use FPS video games as one of the ways to train their staff in situational combat. These games depict real-life scenarios, which can be a better training tool than a session at the firing range.
A Competitive Balance
Shooting games and shooting sports both offer something that competitors love: balance. Not every first-person shooter is this way, but the most successful ones offer a level playing ground for all competitors.
The reason games like Star Wars Battlefront failed is because some people could pay money to get a competitive advantage. Games that put their competitors on a level playing field often win-out.
The Battlefields, Halos, and Call of Dutys of the world have survived for so long because players know that they won’t be at a significant disadvantage because they haven’t played for over 100 hours. Some guns and classes are locked behind progression, but that only makes the player want to play more.
Games like Counterstrike just make the player want to get better. They test your skills at every turn and force you to adapt to each situation. The skills challenges is a lot like real0life shooting in that way.
A First-Person Shooter Borrows From Real-Life
There are two different kinds of first-person shooters. There are games like Destiny, Halo, and Overwatch, that are futuristic and even completely fictional at times. Then some games trend more to the realistic side of shooting.
Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds is one of the most recent examples of a hyper-realistic shooter. In this game, you have to lead your shots and account for bullet drop, just like you do in real life.
Games with this level of realism are rare but are becoming more popular lately. FPS games are borrowing elements from real-life shooting sports to give the player a more realistic battle experience.
Even when games trend towards the unrealistic experience, they borrow elements from real-life guns as well. A lot of games aim to make the rate of fire, spread, range and recoil realistic to the guns they’re recreating. Developers often change some of these mechanics to balance their games, but they begin from a place of realism.
Creating a Community
One of the ways shooting sports and first-person shooters are similar has nothing to do with the shooting. They both include a community atmosphere that’s exclusive to the specific group.
Those outside the gaming world seem to think it’s an isolated activity. This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. One thing gamers love more than anything is playing with their friends. Gamers meet new people online and establish relationships that translate into the real world.
The same is true with shooting sports. They create a community of people with a shared interest who may otherwise never have met.
Competitive Shooting and Video Games
People have shot competitively since the beginning of civilization. Now, video games give the public a way to compete without ever having to fire a weapon. These games give players a way to escape from their boring, mundane lives for a few hours each day.
We no longer live in the adrenaline-packed era of the past. While our ancestors spent their days fighting to stay alive, we sit in front of a computer screen typing away or making calls for eight hours.
These FPS games give us a chance to make split-second, life-or-death decisions once again. They might just be games, but they can serve a much greater purpose in our lives.
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