Gaming: Swords, Guns and all that Jazz.

Ever since Snow Crash, a lot of futuristic world contain some silly cyberpunk antihero with a katana in one hand and a semi-auto in the other.

(This a big move from the older Gibson-style with a guy doing clearly criminal activities, working for a something much bigger than himself, and trying to find his was in a world reminiscent of a Hunter S. Thompson novel. Anyway, that is for another post down the line somewhere. So now back to your regularly scheduled post.)

Sword and Guns – are exceptionally polar styles of weapons, and I’m not thinking simply of the range. This applies to most Cyberpunk 2020 and similar, in which “classic” forms of fighting are rubbing shoulders with gunplay.

The classic styles have a much higher requirements in term of skill, training and body. A novice with a blade will be skewered by a master with the same weapon. He probably won’t even be able to land a single hit, and the fight would be over quickly. Now compare that to a bloke with an Uzi vs. a soldier with an Uzi. Chances are both people will hit each other, and its good odds that both would die. Anyone can pick up a gun and cause some serious havoc. If you try to do that with a knife, you will realise that a) range is useful; and b) the sheer stopping power of a firearm is fantastical. A single bullet wound is deadlier than a sword blow, because if you stab someone to deep with a blade, it sticks when you try to pull it back out, meaning his friend can revenge him. However, if you shoot someone in the chest, you don’t need to worry about that. Range and damage have always made ranged weapons better – just look at Agincourt. When a longbow can piece plate, and you are firing 10-20 a minute, 7500 longbowmen and small contingent of men-at-arms can defeat upwards of 50,000 swordsmen and knights.

Using a sword makes no sense, nor a kama, nor nunchucks, swordchucks or woodchuck-chucks. However, the unarmed martial arts do. High-tech society means high-tech weaponry. When a handcannon can shoot through 6 feet of concrete, it makes sense to have scanners in most places. Unless you have ceramic or plastic weapons, then hands, feet and foreheads are the way forward. Also they are just generally useful, even without some exceptionally keen x-ray police force. You don’t have to reach for a weapon, nor carry one, and you will have the element of surprise. And as long as your clothing doesn’t impair your movement, then it doesn’t matter what you wear at all.

However, if there are no scanners, then projectile weapons are probably the best bet. Stand 20m away and ventilate the idiot who comes running towards you with a bit of sharp metal. All those silly gamebooks that put swords at the same level as a sub-machinegun need to stop and look back at history.

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