I don't like guns. I recognize their usefulness, of course, but I don't much care for them. My brother and I shot BBs at targets and had popguns that we used to lend some gravitas to our neighborhood games of Starsky & Hutch, but when it comes to real world firearms, I cringe. They make me uncomfortable, and I try to avoid them as much as possible, which I found extremely difficult to do at a recent gun show held on the State Fair grounds.
I was there to keep a friend company and also to experience something I'd never seen before. For the record, a gun show is pretty much like a sci-fi memorabilia or videogame show, just with more ammunition and rules about not distributing racist propaganda. There was also far more fudge than I had anticipated; I meant to pick up a pound of the mochaccino flavor from the vendor between the booth selling body armor and the one with the tasers, but never got around to it. The people examining the thousands of weapons were a combination of hunters, enthusiasts, and the simply curious, all perfectly ordinary and well-behaved, but I was still very unsettled as I walked the aisles. I'm honestly not sure what disturbed me more, the child-sized pink rifles that may as well have had "Barbie's First Firearm" stenciled on the side, or the bullets that looked big enough to punch a hole in the moon.
Just as I was debating the extent to which bolting for the door would ruin my façade of cool, I spotted an automatic shotgun straight out of Left 4 Dead. Further down the row was a pistol that I'd used in one Resident Evil or another, and didn't I wear something like that tactical vest in F.E.A.R.? This wasn't a gun show, it was a videogame scavenger hunt! Never did find a Lancer or BFG, but it's probably just as well.
In this week's issue of The Escapist, we examine those instances when the lines between games and reality begin to blur. We'll leave it up to you to decide which world is better - the one in which we choose to play or the one in which we have to live. Me, I'll pick the one with the best fudge.
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