Shoot 'Em Up: 8 Games Based on Shooting Things

Posted on April 08, 2011
Views: 5,483

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There's something built into the American psyche that makes a significant proportion of the population interested in guns. Maybe it's just because it's built into the constitution that we have the 'right to bear arms.' This has probably lead to countless illiterate people wearing sleeveless shirts and more than one Grizzly with a glock. But we digress; we're not saying that other countries don't have a fascination with guns, just that sometimes Americans take it to the extreme.

And regardless of whether or not they like real guns, lots of people like games involving guns. Perhaps it's something genetic that drives us to want to hunt for our food. Perhaps it's an innate competitive urge. Perhaps it's just a latent need to see (or imagine seeing) things go boom. Games involving guns come in many forms, including the following.


Gun Fights With Imaginary Guns (a.k.a. Sticks, Fingers, etc.)


There are studies that show that from a very young age, boys especially will treat objects like sticks as weapons such as swords or guns. Not to say that girls never pretend-fight, but boys are known to be more discriminating with their real and imagined toys. Is this genetic or cultural? No one is sure - although there has been play-fighting with inanimate objects observed in other species - but the fact of the matter is, the phenomenon exists.

Because children haven't yet fried their imaginations, they can create whole universes with the simplest of tools. They don't need anything fancy, just something vaguely gun-shaped to have fun. Whether they're playing old-style cowboys vs. Indians, or they've graduated to cowboys vs. cultural group of the moment that is politically acceptable to hate on, they enjoy pretending that they can shoot things and kill them.


Gun Fights with Toy/Cap Guns


Plastic, non-functional toy guns and cap guns add an extra level of believability to gun play. Sadly, children are learning to turn off their imaginations at younger and younger ages as time goes on, and when your imagination is off it's easier to play with literal objects such as guns that actually look like guns.

These toys are generally safe, except for the fact that cap guns can, in rare cases, cause serious burns. Well, we guess if you're going to play with guns, you should learn sooner or later that there's really no way to shoot things without risk of injury. Happy gun games!


Water Fights


Who doesn't like a squirt gun fight? As long as it's not the middle of winter, and the squirt gun is filled with water and not something offensive such as honey or ketchup, there's tons of fun to be had by the whole family.

The colorful plastic bodies and the fact that these guns shoot water tend to make us forget that they are, in fact, guns. And a lot of the thrill of them comes from out-manning your opponent, either by using the element of surprise, or by having a gun that can shoot farther or with a bigger blast. The one downside is that one person who always gets upset and complains after getting wet. Spoil-sport.


Soft Projectile Fights


There's a whole artillery worth of guns that are designed to shoot soft foam or rubber projectiles. Once upon a time, you basically only had the option of hand guns with enough power to push the projectile out of the barrel before gravity promptly overtook it, sending it crashing to the floor. Now you can get everything from bazookas to fully-automatic rifle equivalents with souped-up magazines and FPS ratings that rival airsoft and paintball guns.

Again, when it comes to this type of gun game, it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye, or runs to his or her mommy.


Laser Tag


Do you like guns? Do you like running around? But you don't like pain at all? Then laser tag is for you! Unlike some of the items on this list, there is very little chance of pain involved in this type of gun-game. Instead of shooting actual, physical projectiles, you're just shooting little beams of light that are incapable of doing damage. Except possibly to your eyes. Once the light is picked up by a vest, you get marked as 'hit,' and then have to leave the game for good or take a break for a certain amount of time.

There is, however, quite a bit of movement involved. It's amazing how motivated and involved people get when they're being shot at, even if it's just with beams of light that are undetectable to the sense of touch and absolutely incapable of causing pain.

Also, expect a little more structure from the games here on out; we're not talking about your free-for-alls here anymore.




If you don't mind occasional stinging, then you can graduate to airsoft. In airsoft, you use guns that are often quite close representations of actual guns. There's a whole thing about getting guns that look like AK47s, G4s, Glocks, and early-to-mid-century Thompsons.

Like many games on this list, there are different levels of play, depending on how much time, effort, and money you want to put into the sport. For example, you could pick up a gun and some ammo from your local sporting goods store for next to nothing. You really shouldn't, but you could. If you do, expect to suffer getting shot at a lot while your gun falls to pieces in your hands. Don't say we didn't warn you. On the other end of the spectrum, you can buy a decent stock gun and upgrade the hell out of it. Of course, in the end, your shooting ability will depend largely on your actual skills, but having a decent gun helps.




Paintball is like airsoft, except you shoot balls of paint instead of plastic BBs. The guns tend to be less expensive, but the ammo more so, especially because you go through much more of it. Paintball games are basically not considered successful unless the entire field ends up looking like the image above.

Unlike airsoft, in which the hits are called on an honor-based system, paintballs indelibly mark those hit. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. You do get the occasional airsoft player who won't call hits, which is very annoying, although they don't tend to last for long. However, it means that in general, people attracted to airsoft are more willing to accept their obvious defeats.




Do you not want to risk physically feeling any sort of impact from getting shot, and also not want to move anything more than your fingers and thumbs? Then you've got the company of millions of gamers around the world.

Don't think, however, that playing videogames qualify you for other types of games on this list; just because you crushed Black Ops doesn’t mean you have what it takes to survive out in the real world of gun games. Many a beginner has made this mistake.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that there has been progress in the video-game shooting world. For example, there are now controllers that require the players to at least stand while shooting, instead of spending countless hours sitting on their butts. Because what's the point of pretending to shoot something if you're not going to get at least a modicum of exercise?

Emma Larkins is a freelance writer. To learn more about her work, follow her on Twitter or check out her blog.

Written by Emma Larkins – Copyrighted ©

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