This Company Specializes In Designing One Specific Thing: Video Game Guns


#1

This article is part of a special series on the intersection of guns and games. For more, click here.

Most video games have weapons, and lots of those weapons happen to be guns. Some are based on real-life firearms, others are pure fantasy, and often it’s somewhere in the middle. It’s also common for developers to seek outside help for very specific tasks—art, writing, etc. Rmory, founded in 2008 by former German ground forces soldier Kris Thaler, specializes in something very unique: designing weapons. If you need video game guns, you come to him.

“Believe it or not, I actually did not set out to start a company specialised in weapons,” he told me over email recently.

Years back, Thaler uploaded some concept art to a message board he lurked on, looking for feedback. A few of the images included guns, and he was later contacted by a developer, interested in having Thaler work up ideas for their game. Thus, he doubled down on guns.

Since then, Rmory has worked on everything from small independent projects like the XCOM-like strategy game Xenonauts to the biggest crowdfunded game ever, Star Citizen.

A gun Rmory designed for Star Citizen.

“We focus on realistic feeling armaments for our clients that look cool and don't break the immersion in their product,” he said.

Though Rmory does provide contractual services to drum up concepts for other military items—tanks, mechs, etc.—the primary reason companies seek Rmory out is firearms.

Generally speaking, Thaler told me, the process begins with a company approaching Rmory about a game, sometimes asking for them to come up with a specific weapon they have in mind, or to fill in the details on a weapon they’re working on but need Rmory to flesh out.

“For example, a client comes to us and says, ‘Hey we need a rocket launcher,’” he said. “We then work out details like ammo capacity, animations, alternate firing modes, etc. We then provide the client with all the visuals he needs to give the weapon to the next member in the production pipeline.”

Even in fantasy settings, Thaler said Rmory tends to pull inspiration from the real-world. His favorite real gun is the German HK G3—”it has a lot of oomph”—while his favorite game gun is, shockingly enough, the Groovitron from Ratchet & Clank, which makes enemies dance.

Thaler started shooting guns at 12-years-old, as soon as legally allowed. (That wouldn’t fly today. Germany has since adopted incredibly stringent gun control laws, in the wake of various mass shooting incidents, and in 2009, the country started a government database.)

He later joined the German military, where he was trained on everything from pistols to missle launchers. Thaler credits his time in the military with giving Rmory an edge.

“I personally think it [my experience] makes or breaks believability,” he said. “You can read all you want about guns, but having handled them in different situations gives you a totally different perspective on them. Almost everybody can make a cool looking gun, but as soon as it feels unbelievable in game it breaks immersion, providing both is key.”

Besides gun design, one of the services Thaler offers is “gun tactics,” in case a client “wants to know explicit use scenarios for guns or what calibre to use where, we got him covered.”

When I pitched Thaler on talking to me, I mentioned this was part of a larger set of stories Waypoint was running about the relationship games have with guns, timed to the ongoing conversation the United States was having about mass shootings involving children. Given his profession—making virtual weapons— I wondered if moments like that gave him pause.

“Of course,” he said, “any tragedy especially involving children do give you pause, and your thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the bereaved. But to bring it back around to our conversation—guns are not the problem, video games are not the problem. Crazy people are the problem, and, unfortunately, there will always be crazy people.”

Though mental health is an important consideration when discussing how to deal with America’s gun problem—it comes up every single time this debate returns—new research suggests there’s not as much of a link between mental illness and gun violence as society generally presumes. According to The New York Times, a recent analysis of 235 mass killings, many of which involved a gun, revealed only 22 percent of attackers would have been classified as mentally ill. It’s even lower for annual gun homicides: 1 percent.

In the case of Rmory, though, they’re working with and designing virtual guns, not real ones.

“One is a piece of a cultural good, the other is for self-defense,” said Thaler.

Rmory is just one link in the larger relationship between games, guns, and firearms manufacturers—both real and imagined. A still shocking 2013 investigation by reporter Simon Parkin explored how gun creators co-op the popularity of games to increase awareness of their creations, often without players being aware. We know games don’t cause violence, a topic we explored in an interview with a research psychologist yesterday, but it remains true most of us spend a lot of our time running around killing fields. And because of companies like Rmory, the weapons we’re running around with are, for better or worse, surprisingly authentic.

Follow Patrick on Twitter. If you have a tip or a story idea, drop him an email: patrick.klepek@vice.com.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoints forums to share them!


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/bjpx8q/this-company-specializes-in-designing-one-specific-thing-video-game-guns

#2

THANK YOU for this paragraph following Rmory’s quote concerning [sic] “crazy people.” It’s nice to see Waypoint doing the right thing by not just letting quotes hang in the air when they present a falsehood of some sort.


#3

oh weird, the man professionally trained to wield weapons, and whose entire career path is predicated on the existence and proliferation thereof, believes that guns are not the problem. huh wow, glad he weighed in


#4

Wheres that hot takes Twitter account.

E: Honestly it’s not a surprising viewpoint for this person to have, given the context of who he is and what he does, I’m just happy Patrick immediately followed this up with his paragraph on Mental Illness in relation to homicides, because while it is interesting to actually hear the perspectives of people who design the guns we shoot in games it’s important to remember that the people who design the guns we shoot in games maybe really like guns and would rather blame anything else but guns for problems that guns cause, which of course is a perspective we coming out of a lot of people outside of video gaming in the US and isn’t exactly anything new or interesting.


#5

just in case this is in response to my post, I edited it, cuz it certainly wasn’t meant to be a neutral “actually this is, in fact, not surprising” take. I think he’s a shithead like the rest of the gun-likers who spout the same prepackaged line that basically amounts to a big ol “i’unno” shrug.

I do however think it says something about the piece that all anyone has commented on thus far is the dude’s take on ‘the gun problem’. The long and short of his story is “i shot guns, i like guns, now i model them. i think it’s valuable that i shot guns before cuz i know how they feel, whatever that means”. He’s a profoundly boring dude who somehow has no real insight into what he does. It’s weird, too, because the guns he is apparently responsible for are neat. What gives his company direction in creating an aesthetic? Does he choose the types of sounds? How does he imagine the combustion element when designing how they fire? There’s just a lot left unexplained. Oh well, at least he left us with something to think about!!


#6

Worth touching in this dude’s perspective, I suppose. If only just because it’s a great feeling seeing his ableist nonsense immediately declawed by the actual facts.


#7

We can almost definitely find someone better to design the guns in the games. There must be someone with an interest in the design of firearms without scumholery on the side. Hell, the Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture & Design at the NY MoMA has expressed a pipe dream of putting on exhibit of guns in the museum.


#8

It’s clear here that people arent happy with Thaler’s take, certainly not with his language.
Granted, “crazy people” is not the greatest choice of words, he is making a valid point that shouldnt be ignored, and im glad Patrick added a paragraph on the matter.

And I will play devils advocate here because I think it is fair to hear his view and try understand it whether I agree with it or not (I dont). Also I think by using the words “crazy people” he has damaged his argument.

That being said, I understand what he means by “crazy people”. People who commit these crimes are few and far between in the grand scheme of things, and they arent ‘normal’ at least by virtue of the crimes they commit. Add to that, that not everybody with access to firearms or weapons of any sort commit the same atrocities. Whilst only 22% of recent mass killings would have been classified as mentally ill, there must be a reason for the acts they commit, so it is much easier for someone to attribute it to “craziness” than address the actual problems at hand.

It isn’t the biggest surprise the an ex forces man is a gun advocate, but it’s an interesting view to listen to because he has actually been trained how to handle firearms, he isn’t just some bloke who likes to hunt and play army men in the unlikely event the government decide to tread on him.

I dont agree with his stance at all, but I dont think it’s helpful to just brush him off.


#9

I’m not sure how else to say this: his take didn’t need to be explained. It’s not that we haven’t considered his take solely because the ableist language got in the way; rather, those of us who roundly and immediately dismiss it, do so because it’s a thoughtless, anecdotal, surface-level take that is easily debunked.

As an American who has been fucking drowning in guns discourse on a monthly (sometimes daily) basis for over a decade now, I assure you that the mutual exclusivity of “it’s not guns, it’s crazy people” is the single most-discussed argument in the entire conversation. I (and probably lots of others here) have researched it, and have concluded it is complete bullshit that I am happy to dismiss out-of-hand every single time it is presented.


#10

Ok, fair enough. Maybe his view doesn’t need to be explained to an American who has done the research. In your opinion what does he mean by ‘crazy people’? Or is it simply a tactic to take the focus of guns?

I ask this because I’m not American, but from Liverpool in the UK. Where you say the ‘it’s not guns, its crazy people’ argument has been debunked. It’s interesting as the take in the UK when theres a terror attack usually turns to ‘it’s not a weapon problem, its crazy people’. Why do you think that is? Is it just the lack of guns and availability of them in the UK?


#11

Honestly, I am exhausted by this subject and don’t want to have this conversation again. Maybe someone else will. Here’s an article about Japan’s gun laws: http://www.businessinsider.com/gun-control-how-japan-has-almost-completely-eliminated-gun-deaths-2017-10 I also encourage you to compare your country’s gun laws and gun deaths per year to the United States’.


#12

Ok, so I was being sincere asking to hear your view. Just because you understand doesn’t mean everyone does.
However I probably completely agree and am on the same side as you, but never mind.

I’m aware of the drastic difference between the UKs laws and gun deaths vs America and the link between strict gun laws and gun deaths but that doesn’t answer any questions I had.

You just spat your dummy out the pram for no reason


#13

I wasn’t being sarcastic, I was completely sincere. I literally did not know what you did and didn’t know about this subject. Sorry for any confusion.


#14

That’s alright mate, no worries


#15

“Thoughts and prayers” fucking hell.