Headshots: The Video Game Experience and Reality

One conceptual structure introduced in the Phillips article is the idea of a head shot. Concerning the head shot, Phillips makes a distinction between head shots in reality and head shots in video games in two areas: associated feelings, and the experience. Concerning associated feelings, head shots in history and literature are seen as symbols of anxiety and brutality while head shots in video games are seen as symbols of skill and accomplishment. Concerning experience, Phillips notes that head shots in video games cannot possibly reflect the real experience of shooting a gun. Phillips points out occurrences such as breathing and the recoil impact of shooting a gun as part of the real life experience while occurrences such movement of the mouse and the twitch of clicking a button as part of the video game experience.

A conceptual structure in Stauffer’s article is settler colonialism. Settler colonialism is defined as colonizing of land with the intent to stay, and consequently the natives may be displaced or eliminated. Stauffer focuses on the way settler colonialism is maintained, which is through tradition and ignorance of other viewpoints. Stauffer makes a connection between settler colonialism and drones in the debate over drone usage. In the United States the debate over drones focuses on how to reduce casualties and precision, and Stauffer points out that a completely bigger issue concerning the fear felt by the native inhabitants that are terrorized by drones is suppressed because it’s not a part of the established “tradition”.

The unifying point between the two author’s arguments relates to the disconnect created by an interface. The interface of a video game completely changes the experience of a head shot, and the reward system of head shots also trivializes the fatal act and makes it desirable. Similarly, for a drone, an operator looking through a screen will have immense difficulty understanding how the people on the ground feel, and thus the interface of a drone dehumanizes its targets. Phillips and Stauffer both point out the unsettling ways in which virtual interfaces associated with video games have the power to make us forget the consequences of many of the acts we preform through them.


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