This week I’ll examine many different examples of hunting in video games and how it is regulated. First up is Duck Hunt. Duck Hunt was a launch game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. You got to use a light gun to shoot at your television and try to shoot down ducks in the video game. If you hit the ducks your hunting dog would go fetch them. If you missed, your dog would get on his hind legs and laugh at you.

In real life you need a license to hunt, there are certain hours on certain days that you are allowed to hunt, and you need to only shoot the animal you have a license to hunt. Duck Hunt takes place during the day, and the only animals you encounter other than your dog are the ducks you are hunting. No problems so far. It also seems safe to assume that the game takes place during the designated hunting season. You don’t use any decoys or bait, so we don’t have to worry about regulations there either. The area where Duck Hunt seems to differ from the real world is the amount of ducks being hunted. Each state decides what the daily bag limit will be during their duck hunting season. In the game you just keep shooting ducks until you’ve missed too many times. They don’t care about the ecosystem in this game. Hunting is a privilege that you lose when you are no longer a good hunter. Shoot all the ducks you want, but if you miss a few times you lose your license, your dog laughs at you, and you cannot hunt anymore. In real life we don’t mind how many times you miss, you just have to follow the regulations and you’re in the clear.

Your dog, politely giving you hunting tips
Your dog, politely giving you hunting tips

Next up is the Oregon Trail. This game was created by the wonderfully named Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium. It is played on the home computer. You travel with your settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon, for a new start. You cross the wild frontier, ford rivers, and importantly for me, hunt bison, bears, rabbits, and the like.

Because you have to travel cross country in a wagon you do not have the ability to bring a lot of food with you. Hunting is necessary to get to your destination. In each hunting trip you can shoot way more meat than you are able to bring back to your wagon. When you are done hunting you just pack up what you want to take with you and leave. You don’t dispose of the leftovers in any way. You do this in multiple states, in multiple times of year. Hunting laws were a bit different back in 1848. Some states had laws on the books restricting hunting of certain animals, but these laws were rarely enforced. State legislatures only started passing tougher laws and regulations that were actually enforced when people realized that animal populations were getting low. In Oregon Trail, the game, the laws don’t seem to exist at all. You have a lot of freedom to hunt whatever you want, wherever you want to do it. Either you have complete freedom, or you’re leading a felonious hunting trip across the country. Some sort of American safari. You don’t even have to leave the area in a nice condition. You can just leave behind animal corpses that you aren’t interested in.

A normal hunt on the prarie
A normal hunt on the prarie

The third game I’m looking at is Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. This game was released for the PlayStation 2 and there weren’t many games released for the system that were better than it. While you’re playing the game you have to maintain your stamina bar. Eating food will replenish your stamina. Food can be found in the game include rations, instant noodles, and Calorie Mate. You can also capture animals and eat them for food. Animals that can be caught include snakes, frogs, fish, and birds. Snake is infiltrating Soviet land in Metal Gear Solid 3. No matter how fishing and hunting was regulated in the Soviet Union, Snake is there illegally. Him taking wildlife from the area, let alone killing the wildlife and then eating it is illegal. But Snake is a spy of sorts. If he were to be caught by Soviet officials and actually charged with some crimes, his acts against nature would not be his biggest problems.

Finally, I’ll look at Big Buck Hunter, an arcade game you’ve seen in every bowling alley you’ve ever visited. You use a bigger version of the gun from Duck Hunt to shoot different animals on the arcade game’s screen. Sometimes you get to do a bonus level of clay pigeon shooting or normal bird shooting. Big Buck Hunter actually seems like it has the most in common with our legal system. You travel to different states for your different hunting experiences. This likely means that you are observing the limit on how many animals you can hunt in a given season. It just so happens that all the states have the same limit in this universe, but that is a simple thing to ignore. You get in trouble when you shoot animals you are not supposed to kill like doe. Big Buck Hunter offers you one of the most realistic hunting scenarios, as to legality, which you can find.

Hunting shows up in all sorts of video games and takes all sorts of forms. It is mostly portrayed in a more entertaining manner than real hunting, but that’s true of most any action portrayed in a video game. The reason why you are hunting can change from game to game, but the mechanics are all kind of the same. The most common difference between games and the real world is that in games you are allowed to shoot way more stuff than you can in real life. Also you don’t have to wake up early or wear certain gear or wait in one spot for a long time. Once again video games beat real life in a head to head contest.


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