It's one of the greatest fears among parents and politicians the world over—video game violence spilling out into reality. The shooting at Columbine and the more recent tragedy in Utøya, Norway have touched deep nerves in Western consciousness. And that's why there's a giant pink, juggling elephant in the corner of every production meeting and press conference for each shooter game that comes out.
What if everyone starts acting like they do in shooter games?
Research into whether that already has or is likely to happen is voluminous and contadictory, as early scientific research into any given topic tends to be. One man, the mostly anonymous FPS Russia, has set out to show the world that shooters and reality can get together for both fun and profit—and no one has gotten killed or corrupted along the way (that we know of).
The first Call of Duty: Black Ops video went up on the FPSRussia YouTube channel in April, 2010. During the first few months, the series was mostly entertaining gameplay videos and walkthroughs of popular shooters, and already featured the excellent faux Russian accent that has become the channel's hallmark.
The host made his first in-person appearance in June, and by September 1st, real-life firearms had made their debut. From that day on FPSRussia was no longer just one of the millions of YouTube channels devoted to Call of Duty heroics. It was destined for greatness.
Over the ensuing year, gameplay footage had come to be replaced almost entirely by videos of FPS Russia himself test firing all sorts of bombastic and hard to come by armaments (depending on your state and nation of residence). Often these tests are performed in video game inspired situations, sometimes not. Almost all take place outside in a large empty field, and FPS Russia himself has taken a lot of flack for never wearing eye or ear protection while he shoots. As he seems to be mostly alone in the great wide open, where massive noise from the guns is less likely to damage his hearing, I don't see the harm.
Since he switched from game demos to gun demos, FPS Russia's popularity has exploded. His new videos take only days to pass 1 million views, and his most successful (featuring a fully automatic 12-gauge shotgun) is at the lofty height of 15 million views. Apparently, that's popular enough to sell T-shirts. Judging by how frequently the vids come out and how ludicrously large their gun budget is, it seems likely that YouTube video creation has become a full-time job for FPS Russia. We applaud them, and wish them the best in their good works.