Looking back, this was in all likelihood not the best week to show off a virtual reality first-person shooter at a big event which was news-making especially one where the National Rifle Association (NRA) unloaded intense rhetoric about gun rights.
However, Facebook showed and pulled Bullet Train, an Epic Game irrespective of concept VR demonstration for almost 3 years, from a booth it was staffing at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
The Chief Executive of NRA on Thursday responded to the national outrage over the mass killing of 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, with a noncompliant address stating that proponents of gun control were using those deaths to denudate individual freedoms. The statement was not welcomed heartily by the general public and neither did the remarks of spokeswoman, Dana Loesch, who had said the night before that mainstream media “love mass shootings,” because of the content and viewership concern that they provide.
Former Oculus VR executive, Hugo Barra, who is currently Facebook’s Vice President for virtual reality, gave a statement in a bid to explain the game’s presence at the CPAC booth, and then why it was pulled. He said:
“There is a standard set of experiences included in the Oculus demos we feature at public events. A few of the action games can include violence. In light of the recent events in Florida and out of respect for the victims and their families, we have removed them from this demo. We regret that we failed to do so in the first place.”
This started drawing attention after Sean Morrow, a producer for Now This (a website covering CPAC), tweeted a short video clip of Bullet Train being demonstrated on the convention’s show floor.
It however was bad timing for Facebook to demonstrate this VR experience at the CPAC where video games are habitually demonized by the kind of VIPs who attend and speak at the conference.
Bullet Train, which we’ve described as “ultra-violet” VR experience, appears to be less intense for the type of video games often blamed for turning young people into mass killers. The last time a school shooting attracted this much attention for this long – the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012 –LaPierre lashed out on video games, calling them part of “a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sows violence against its own people.”
February 21st, Governor of Kentucky Matt Bevin blamed video games for fostering a “culture of death,” and on Thursday, Donald Trump also blamed video games for the nation’s problem of gun violence.