Science in Gaming: Firing Guns in Space

Futuristic guns, deep space battles, bionic arms, and military experiments gone wrong. These are typical things you see in many video games, but how farfetched are they? Do games have the inside track when it comes to future advancements? We take a look at the science of games and how plausible they are, because at The Dadcade, we do science because we care.┬áToday’s topic, firing guns in space.

Call of Duty is one of the most successful franchises in game history and is generally applauded for the detail it puts into making each gun look, feel, and sound like it’s real life counterpart. So when the series jumped out of the present and into the future they were bound to slip up, right? I mean shooting guns in space can’t happen. Everyone knows you need oxygen for combustion to happen and you kind of need combustion to fire a bullet. If you’ve played last years Call of Duty:Ghosts you know what I’m referencing. Towards the climax of the game you take the fight to space to reclaim control of a space station. You’re out in space with your suit and a rifle fighting your way into the station, just a regular old bullet shooting rifle not a pew pew laser or anything special. Shouldn’t work, right? Wrong, this part of the game is actually pretty plausible.


Modern ammunition is made with its very own oxidizer allowing it to create the spark necessary to expel the cartridge from the casing (and we aren’t talking muskets anymore.) Now, once the round leaves the barrel is something else entirely and that is where the game falls off the rails scientifically. Let’s start with the basic concept of physics. Any force exerted to get the bullet to leave the chamber will also be exerted on the gun itself in the opposite direction. This is always the case when firing a gun and is generally referred to as recoil or the kickback. Being that most guns are shot on good ol’ earth gravity it really isn’t a problem to control, but take it to zero gravity and suddenly each bullet fired is sending you backwards. In the game you could empty a magazine and remain in the same spot while Newton spins in his grave. While on the subject of gravity let’s talk about the ejection port for spent casings. Typically the force from the bullet being fired forces back the bolt opening up the port on the side of the gun allowing the casing to be removed from the chamber. Since this system is designed to work with gravity, it could cause jams especially when firing 30 rounds in 20 seconds.


So while Ghosts does get the fact that you can fire a gun in space correct there are too many other variables that make a scenario like the one depicted pretty far-fetched (and I didn’t even touch on what would happen if a bullet ruptured a space suit.) While we may someday have epic battles in space it won’t be with what we know as firearms today because try as you might you can’t escape science unless it’s in a game.

Any other absurd science in video games? Let us know in the comments and be sure to head over to our Facebook page

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