Sunday, April 28, 2013

[Rant] Nerf public image, part 1.

Came across this post:

Jump if you want to see this.

I will start off by saying that this is an excellent post by MLD and Remedy Metal about aftermarket vendors, presence and popularity in the NIC (of the sort I probably will never have and don't necessarily want) and professionalism.

I have absolutely nothing against it or what it is proposing. In fact, its message only goes along with some thoughts of mine overall.

I do have a somewhat trivial beef with it though, one that happens to be a good spark for a rant. It lies in this:

RM: Blasters not guns. You need to erase "gun" from your Nerf vocabulary.

I am sick and tired of how hard the "blaster" lingo is being pushed.

Let's get it straight: Guns are not firearms.

"Gun" is a broad technical term.

Many Nerf blasters, or nerf guns, shoot projectiles from barrels by means of pressurized gas.

Anything that performs this action is a gun. It doesn't matter whether the pressure comes from burning propellant, a pressurized tank rapidly exhausted into the barrel, or a spring driving a piston into a cylinder.

So aside from flywheel launchers and direct spring throwing devices (Vortex), all nerf guns are guns.

That is indisputable fact. Anyone claiming otherwise is wrong. End of story.

End of mechanically minded hair splitting about terminology.

Now let's look at "blaster" from the standpoint of purpose.

The term "blaster" to describe a dart gun was originated by Hasbro in the 1990s and has been used since as a trademark of sorts for their product lines involving shooty-things: Nerf Blasters. Since then, other industry players have picked up "blaster" as the preferred term for nerf-like offerings, and the use of the term has been popularized in HvZ and other communities as a less charged alternative to "nerf gun" with more distance from ideas of firearms.

Don't get me wrong, I fully understand why the term "blaster" can be helpful to nerf hobbyists. The term is an indisputably useful public relations tool. I do not wish to come off as trying to shoot it down. I want to see people succeed with their game hosting and positive image to the outside world.

It remains nothing but industry lingo and obvious euphemism, though.

"Blaster" has a near-identical status to the terminology "paintball marker" used by the industry and many others in that field. Yet, there is no desire there to criticize or even flame other people in the hobby for not using this alternate term outside of situations where it might be necessary to do so.

So let's all just take it down a couple of notches, OK?

Call it a "blaster" when "blaster" is called for. Taking whacks at people for calling it a gun just makes you look immature, obsessed with political correctness and ignorant of technical precision.

Now to change gears:
RM: We as a hobby have to distance ourselves from real guns, paint ball, and Airsoft. Those industries are heavily regulated because of justified safety concerns.
It's a complex subject.

I myself have conflicting thoughts here.

On one hand, yes: the nerf hobby is some things paintball and airsoft are not. Nerf offers a variety of solutions for situations airsoft and paintball do not apply to - because airsoft by nature is dominated by replica firearms that cannot be used in public without causing concern, because paintball uniformly involves high-energy projectiles that can cause injuries and deface property, and so on.

Nerf is different. Nerf is not so narrow in focus. Nerf covers nearly everything - it's versatile. It adapts perfectly to the situation.

And the sheer majority of the nerf guns on this planet are MUCH, MUCH safer and more benign than paintball guns. Want to have a skirmish on a college campus? Nerf does it with an astoundingly high level of safety AND fun.

That is valuable and unique. And yes, that needs to be emphasized in how nerf appears to the world. It needs to be clear that we are not just airsoft or paintball 2.0 - and personally I have been hanging around with nerf guns on campus and am asked if what I am carrying is a "paint gun" or "soft... BB... air whatever the hell it is" many times. That is a risk, nerf getting lumped in with those other two fake gun hobbies that wouldn't play nice under the circumstances. It could be a real problem if people don't KNOW that nerf is DIFFERENT and generally capable of NOT causing trouble.

On the other hand: There is no reason to fear safety concerns.

That attitude and approach... it is almost as if there is some desire to deny the applicability of safety concerns to nerf.

That is a bad idea.

There ARE safety concerns in nerf. If we are shooting 1.2 gram objects at 230fps, we are shooting 1.2 gram objects at 230fps. There is no way around it. Keeping it underground will get us nowhere - especially as companies like Remedy Metal continue to advance the industry well past the point of some warranty-voiding makers souping up toys. Modding is only going to get bigger and more mainstream. The nerf aftermarket is already a booming industry. It's not underground anymore. If you still think it IS underground, well, what is undeniable is that those days are drawing to a close.

Sooner or later, critical mass will be reached, perhaps incidents involving irresponsible nerfers and commercial high-performance nerf products will occur, and we will get bad press.

And the one thing even worse than red tape, is bad press.

So what am I saying? Well, it's better to acknowledge any risk, or lack thereof. I think we should be as transparent and honest as possible.

Dare I say, I don't think it is responsible to try so hard to make high-performance nerf gear look totally safe. That is not smart.

I have, and have always had, a very clear stance on this: A modded nerf gun is NOT A TOY. We need to all have some respect for this stuff. It would not be responsible to just hand a 100fps retal build to a random 5 year old. Nor would it be responsible to go out on a college campus and sling stefans around as bystanders walk past.

Responsibility begins with ACKNOWLEDGING the risks. And to that end, I see the "Careful, don't let people think there is any safety concern at all with nerf" attitude which pervades the hobby as a major roadblock to achieving the sort of responsibility the same post advocates in the sentence after that above quote.

Personally I think it would a GREAT thing to see more objective attention in that regard - I want to see chronographs at events and such. That could only be a good thing in the long run, and it sends a positive message to the world to see people in nerf paying attention to safety.

1 comment:

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