updated 11:00 pm EST, Mon January 14, 2013
Game poorly disguised effort to present gun factoids to players
The National Rifle Association has released its own iOS target practice simulation app, despite its critical reaction to the video game industry in reaction to the Newtown CT school shootings. NRA: Practice Range (free) offers players a virtual shooting-gallery, tips on safety training, and a database of gun laws sorted by state. The app is rated 4+, meaning it is cleared for child use because it contains no objectionable material, according to Apple's classification guidelines.
"There exists in this country a callous and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat, and Splatterhouse," said NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre during the group's press conference following the school massacre, which shocked the US despite a plethora of school shootings in recent years.
Developed by MEDL Mobile, Practice Range lists itself as an official NRA-licensed product. The game offers multiple firearms for "training," with several other models -- including an M-16, and AK-47 among others -- available as in-app purchases.
The app contains no graphic depictions of violence, with the player shooting at paper (though human-shaped) or clay targets. The app seems in-line with the NRA's guidelines of educating the public on gun safety, despite the hypocrisy of the NRA releasing a video game after its condemnation of the industry as a whole a month ago.
MacNN examined the "game" a bit earlier today, and we found it to be rudimentary, with poorly implemented tilt controls. The shooting range feature felt interstitial to the NRA-curated factoids presented during loading screens between range sessions. Clearly, the factoids and gun law database are the main point of the game, but poorly presented in the framework of an entertainment app. Several free apps by developers not openly associated with the NRA exist which present the same data in a clearer and more usable fashion.
The iOS app isn't the NRA's first foray into video gaming. In 2006, the lobbyist group partnered with Crave Entertainment to develop the NRA Gun Club program. The PC game was poorly received, and IGN reviewer Ed Lewis wrote that "if anything else, such as fun or variety or not wanting to bang your head on the floor should appeal to you, then avoid this like the plague."