Tom Endo has an interesting musing up over at the Escapist on the subject of guns, games, and game design โ€” the issue at stake is what guns really mean in video games (his answer is 'not much, especially not compared to movies'). Dirty Harry may be a love letter to the .44 Magnum, but it's a more nuanced picture than we get in, say, Grand Theft Auto. Endo says we are not producing 'images of consequence,' and an overemphasis on pure mechanics has meant a stunted approach to violence:

Videogame developers view guns through a profoundly two-dimensional lens. The gun is still a power-up, too practical in its uses to be the object of much emotional tension. When games were confined to two dimensions and only a handful of pixels, it was difficult to portray a firearm in any convincing way other than a fantastic ray of light spewing from the barrel. Players went through games amassing guns like so many mushrooms and fire flowers. Little has changed in this regard, as players run through any first person shooter scooping up weapon after weapon, discarding one in favor of another. For many, this is the purpose of games - to provide a concrete experience grounded in gameplay mechanics, as opposed to an exercise in symbolism and iconography. But in putting this goal before all else, videogames concede their ability to produce images of consequence. In a vain attempt to tack meaning onto an otherwise meaningless image, developers have placed an inordinate emphasis on technical details.

We can probably extend this idea to gaming weaponry in general: I'm not much for FPS and the like for a variety of reasons, but I do have a soft spot for samurai-themed hack 'n slashes as well as RPGs of various stripes. Do those shiny, shiny swords mean much beyond a means to a gameplay end and upgraded stats? And should they? From the Barrel of a Gun [The Escapist]