The Marketing Link Between Gun Manufacturers and Video Game Makers

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 25 2012 12:12 PM

The Marketing Link Between Gun Manufacturers and Video Game Makers

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A gamer looks at the display for 'Call Of Duty: Black Ops II' as she waits for midnight to buy Activision's news release in the 'Call of Duty' series, at a Game Stop store in Universal City, California on November 12, 2012

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

Turns out NRA CEO and executive VP Wayne LaPierre's attempt to blame video games for mass shootings might cause complications for some of the organization's sponsors: video game manufacturers and firearms makers have a quiet but symbiotic marketing relationship.

The New York Times did some digging into that relationship after Friday's half-hour speech by LaPierre. While there hasn't been a proved link between violent games and actual gun violence, they did find one between the makers of some violent, shooter-based games and the manufacturers of the guns featured in them. We'll let the Times explain:

"Makers of firearms and related gear have come to see video games as a way to promote their brands to millions of potential customers, marketing experts said...
...Assault-style rifles made by Bushmaster Firearms have a roster of credits that any actor would envy, including appearances in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, a part of the popular Activision series. The gunman in the Connecticut killings, Adam Lanza, used a semiautomatic rifle made by Bushmaster, which is a unit of the Freedom Group. The most recent entry in the Call of Duty franchise, Black Ops II, featured models of weapons that are also made by Barrett and Browning. Another popular game sold by Electronic Arts, Battlefield 3, depicts assault rifles and pistols similar to those made by Colt, Heckler & Koch, Glock and Beretta. The American military also uses Call of Duty and other video games for recruitment and to train soldiers.
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That marketing affinity isn't without problems of its own, however. Both gamers and gun enthusiasts don't seem to be terribly happy with the association when it rears its head too obviously. While video games often license the image of the firearms used, manufacturers don't necessarily want their products associated with illegal activity depicted in some games. And gamers have previously gotten Electronic Arts to remove links on a promotion for Medal of Honor Warfighter that brought users to the websites of a gun maker and a gun accessories manufacturer.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.