If there is one genre consistently dominating my playtime over the years of being a gamer, it's the First Person Shooter. I have easily played more shooters than all of the other genres combined. I suppose the first one I ever played was Wolfenstein 3D, which some might be surprised to learn is technically not the first FPS even though many claim it to be. Anyway, I've been playing them ever since and loving the significant improvements that have come about due to advances in technology. I'm not going to bore you with a long list of shooters I've played, nor will I suggest that I've played them all...there are simply too many of them to make such a bold claim. I will say this though - the ones that have defined or revolutionized the First Person Shooter (FPS) genre, well chances are I played it; or if it uses a current generation military theme, then chances are I've played it.

Given I have such a tendency to play shooters, I can't help but speculate how these games will grow and evolve in the coming years. I say that because so many of these games are modeled after our real world military forces, which if you haven't noticed, has undergone some significant transformations in the past few years. The time of conventional warfare using waves of fighter and bomber aircraft, columns of tanks and formations of soldiers has kind of been relegated to the history books. Many of our shooters have already abandoned this theme too while adopting the asymmetrical warfare often associated with the Special Forces. But even that mission set is beginning to witness a paradigm shift as many military experts speculate about the next big war being waged in cyberspace, which might leave some gamers wondering...

"Will this real life shift in military presence and posturing affect my FPS games, and if so, how?"

Now, before you dismiss this concern as absurdity - the thoughtless ramblings of an old gamer - just look at the current generation of shooters and how closely they seem to model the real world. I mean heck...Medal of Honor Warfighter recruited actual members of the SPECWAR community to contribute to their game and based many of the missions off of real world events. But that's certainly not the only element. Look how many shooters have incorporated drones into their game play, and think about how often the subject of drones comes up in the news. Games like Future Soldier showcase next generation technology and weaponry...being developed now for our military forces of the future. Even the plot and threat types in many of our games are loosely based off of real world equivalents; from terrorist attacks on the streets of London to the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Regardless of how big or small the correlation might be, a link exists between real life military operations and the make believe worlds found in some of the games we play.

Those developers, especially those developers with a reputation for creating games emulating real world operations, will likely find there is a whole lot less gun battles and a whole lot more infiltration and stealth tactics being employed. It's certainly not the first time we've seen this mechanic at play. I recall a particular mission from Rainbow Six requiring you to infiltrate this lodge undetected - bug the phone and retrieve some files off of the computer, and then leave the premises without ever being detected. It might not sound all that difficult, but when there are a half dozen or so guards patrolling inside and outside of the lodge, requiring you to take cover in empty rooms while waiting for the threat to pass. It was pretty tense, and zero shots were ever fired. I'd say that's true of a lot of real world missions that happen today - the ones we never hear about on CNN or Fox News.

Is that the future of our shooters?

I guess one of the matters concerning me the most is all of this attention being given to the potential for civil unrest, and dare I say...civil war. I'd like to think civil war is an impossibility we would never be faced with again; an abhorrent and detestable action limited to third world countries rooted in chaos, but not the United States. I'd like to think that...but can't help but not think that. It wouldn't be the first time we've seen a game incorporating a theme surrounding the fall of the United States.

Consider the following...

Homefront is a first-person shooter video game developed by the now defunct Kaos Studios and published by THQ, in which players play as members of a resistance movement fighting against a near-future North Korean military occupation of the United States.

The game's backstory begins during the early 21st century, with tensions between North Korea and global powers running high due to North Korea's military aggression, including its successful testing of nuclear weapons and the sinking of a South Korean ship. In 2013, one year after the death of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il (which, incidentally, came in December 2011, several months after the game's release), his son and successor, Kim Jong-un, reunites North and South Korea to form the Greater Korean Republic (GKR), a technological and economic global power. By 2015, a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, both now nuclear-armed states, has devastated the global oil supply, causing prices to skyrocket. This precipitates extreme economic turmoil and massive social unrest in the U.S. Subsequently, in 2017, the U.S. military recalls much of its overseas presence, particularly in the Pacific. A year later, Japan is easily conquered by the GKR and joins the Greater Korean Republic.

It's kind of eerie how close some of those fictional plot lines are to reality, don't you think?

Now, I've often said I'm not a conspiracy theorist, and quite frankly I think some who are do so simply for the attention, especially those who are in a position to draw national level interest. I don't think Sandy Hook was a government sponsored attack with the intent on passing gun control legislation, although I do wonder why we've never seen any of the surveillance video leading up to the attack. I'm not a 9/11 truther who thinks the U.S. government was behind some elaborate conspiracy to blow up the World Trade Center and Pentagon, but I do think the dialogue, specifically the comment about "pulling it", regarding WTC 7 (the other building that collapsed that day), is troubling.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist but I wonder about some stories I've read here lately and how it could be used as the inspiration or model for future military themed shooters. Two of the most concerning stories are included below. The first stems from military leaders being groomed based on their response to whether they could carry out orders against the civilian population.

Snopes says the story is probably false, which probably isn't very encouraging.

The second story involves the Department of Homeland Security...not the fact they are ordering thousands of weapons and billions of bullets (yes, billions)...but something even more alarming - they are ordering paper targets depicting seemingly normal citizens, albeit normal citizens that are armed. According to the company contracted to make these items, the spirit and intent was to prepare and expose law enforcement officers to these types of "threats".

In a time where guns and games are coming under heavy fire for the rampant violence we see occurring in the United States, it seems a little unusual the government would not only condone, but order such a shocking target for its agents to practice firing at.

Now before this potentially volatile topic bubbles over and erupts into a full blown political debate, I'm not really here to discuss my thoughts on those concerns and whether they are true or not - that's a blog for a different time and a different website...but I am here to apply that train of thought and line of reasoning to video games, specifically military first person shooters.

If many of our shooters are pre-cursors of what is to come, can we expect, or more importantly should we be concerned, with any game that would have us pick sides and take up arms against our fellow Americans? If we do see such a game or games, should we chalk it up as coincidence, or as a creative way to prepare and de-sensitize us to this bleak future? Would you play a game that required you to pick sides and shoot civilians, even if they were armed? If we look at the history and similarities of real world military operations and how they are often emulated in video games, I don't think it's much of a stretch to see a game that tap dances the fine line of what's acceptable and what's inappropriate and includes this sort of sensitive subject matter.

The only question or questions left is who will develop it, and what side you're going to be on.