Games

Elegance Is a Shotgun

There is nothing more elegant than punching a button and watching something die.

Taking at least one thing off before going out, the little black dress, the black tie, the shotgun. What do these things have in common? Obviously, their elegance.

I have been groping around for years for a way to convey to others the pleasure that I get from using the shotgun in a first person shooter. And it has finally come to me, it is the very definition of elegance.

I first noticed my preference for the shotgun playing Doom 2. There was something purely pleasurable about loading up, pressing the trigger, and watching really ugly critters die. As I have continued to play FPSs, I continually note my tendency to eschew nearly all other weaponry for a double barrel.

While first person shooters often offer the player about eight different options of weapons to use, I can't imagine that any player divides their time equally among those selections. I don't. When in doubt, I choose the shotgun.

It is simplicity itself. Get close, squeeze the trigger, no fuss, no muss. Certainly, the pistol is a challenging selection, requiring precise aiming, generally a head shot if you want to get it over with quickly. However, more often than not, you're going to have to fire a number of times to achieve the desired effect. The machine gun is messy, the very definition of wild fire, spraying bullets everywhere. The rocket launcher might seem as elegant as the shotgun, since it can achieve that one shot kill, but it isn't. You have to worry about collateral damage, often that damage is incurred by you. Grenades are likewise inelegant with trajectory issues and that same fear of splash damage. Maybe, the sniper rifle comes close to the stopping power of the shotgun, but it again requires the kind of patience and precision that the shotgun allows one to avoid.

Beauty is a term often difficult to define. Indeed, many claim that it is undefinable.

Nevertheless, elegance is a description of beauty that is useful as it has a measurable quality. Scientists especially prefer the term as it suggests simplicity and “basicness.” Occam's Razor, for instance, suggests that the simplest answer is usually the best answer. Put another way, the most elegant answer is usually the best one.

That elegance and refinement (indeed, consider the idea of “being refined,” boiling something down to its most basic components) are terms equally quantifiable as related to taste is a common enough notion. Trailer park attitudes towards beauty are gaudy, decadent, but tastefulness is best represented by dialing back on decoration and sticking to the cleanest modes of décor and dress.

The shotgun is the little black dress of video games or the complex engineering problem resolved in the simplest of ways (in attempting to describe engineering elegance, the aviator, Antoine de Saint-Exup'ery said, “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.").It is the easiest way to resolve a problem, be that problem a horde of Nazis or a horde of zombies. It provides the simplest form of the kill and even often kills two (or three) birds (or the aforementioned zombies) with one stone.

If beauty is something that produces pleasure in us and if elegance is that which pleases us due to its simplicity, I feel that the satisfaction (frankly, the near sublime joy) that I derive from using the shotgun as my weapon of choice might best be described as a result of an exposure to elegance. There is nothing more elegant than punching a button and watching something die.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image