Fantastic video game weapons vs their real-life equivalents

There are certain things we just accept in video games. An overweight pipe technician can jump five times his own height. A first aid kit will instantly heal bullet wounds and replace lost blood. And any theoretical physics model can be cleanly packaged into a lightweight, handheld weapon with the minimum of fuss. But in certain cases, that last one isn't too far off the truth.

As guano loopy as most game weaponry is, some of it definitely isn't implausible. In fact some of it exists already. Kind of. Stick with us, and we'll talk you through the exciting/mortifying truth of what could be just around the technological corner.


In games:


Popularised by the Quake series, particularly Quake III Arena, the railgun is the undisputed daddy of high speed, pin-sharp, long-range dismemberment. Pull the trigger, listen to the elegant ‘Pschoom!’, bask briefly in the beauty of the dayglow plasma trail, and then cackle like a bastard as some poor fool repaints a wall with guts and yesterday’s dinner four miles away. Truly, the gentleman’s death tool of choice.

In real life:

Video game railguns are indeed based on existing technology, but the real thing is a little less portable than the type used in everyone’s favourite low-gravity deathmatch. Like, in the same way that Denmark is less portable than a pencil.

A railgun uses electric current and magnetic fields to launch a projectile from between two metal rails at ludicrous speeds. The problems come with the huge amount of electrical energy needed to whip up the necessary force, as well as the current size of the equipment needed to bring it all together. And the fact that unless super-heat resistant materials are used, the electric charge and friction involved in a 5km per second shot (seriously, experimental Navy set-ups are doing that now) tend to melt the gun to uselessness. Also, reloading one takes a long time and a whole team of boffins to perform.

In a real-life deathmatch:

If firing the thing didn’t instantaneously blind and melt you, you’d get shot to mince during the four-day reload.

Laser guns

In games:


God said “Let there be light”. And there was. In concentrated beams of hot smouldering death, burning through bad guys’ faces like a power drill through cake. Lethal, accurate, and tricky to dodge due to their endearing habit of literally moving at the speed of light, lasers also come in a variety of attractive colours and finishes, making them a must for the flamboyant dandy mass-murderer-about-town.

In real life:

Laser power has a tendency to dissipate with distance travelled, essentially dispersing into the air as it goes. And if there’s fog, dust, or basically anything else in the air other than air, you’ve got even bigger problems. Lasers also waste a shedload of energy in heat and need mammoth power supplies and cooling systems in order to operate.

However, technology has been coming on leaps and bounds in recent years, and the US military is working with Boeing to create a truck-based anti-air laser and an apparently terrifyingly precise gunship mounted sniping laser weighing around 40,000 lbs. The former is scheduled for battle-strength demonstration in around two years time and the latter was successfully tested this very month.

In a real-life deathmatch: 

You’d do pretty well as long as you didn’t mind circle-strafing really slowly in a 35-ton truck.

Plasma rifles

In games:


Mmmm, tasty tasty plasma. Is it a goo? Is it a gas? No-one really cares, because it’s blue, it’s pretty, and it’ll simultaneously slap a man hard in the face and evaporate his head right off.  Plasma is actually a form of stinking hot, highly energised, electrically conductive, partially-ionised matter, but in video game terms, all that’s really important is that it goes ‘Blat blat blat blat blat!’ really fast and people usually die immediately afterwards.

In real life:

Right now the portable fusion reactors needed to power plasma guns just aren’t happening. Plus atmospheric resistance would reduce any plasma beam we could muster with our current puny Earthman technology to naught but a blow torch, and regardless of that, plasma has similar dissipation problems to lasers. Speaking of blow torches though, industrial plasma cutters do currently exist, including some hand-held models, but they’re essentially just arc welders with big dicks.

In a real-life deathmatch:

You could do a hell of a lot of damage, but only if you could remain within a couple of inches of your opponents without getting shot. And ideally, persuade them to fight in a mechanic’s workshop.


  • ShitMittensShittyKittens - February 15, 2010 4:54 p.m.

    First! And yes i read the article. Anywho, great article, yada yada yada. Mech. Want. Kthnxbai. reCAPTCHA- gasser Tho. Yes a gasser would be nice in a mech
  • GrandTheftAuto - February 15, 2010 5:03 p.m.

    I didnt really understand the HAL-5 thingy. What you do it will recognize and send out signals to ur muscles and make you ten times stronger or?
  • Hobojedi - February 15, 2010 5:09 p.m.

    Lighting gun mounted on a truck? Wow. They should clear that thing for military use.
  • GR_DavidHoughton - February 15, 2010 5:18 p.m.

    GTA: It recognises the movements you're making and then reacts fact enough to copy those movements with the suit's arms and legs at the same time, with extra strength and support. You basically use your brain signals to control it like a wearable robot.
  • onewingedantista - February 15, 2010 5:30 p.m.

    Awesome. We're getting closer to current sci-fi, but as technology evolves, so will the sci-fi. Recaptcha: debunk years. Jamie and Adam (Mythbusters) say that years are just an illusion!
  • Yeager1122 - February 15, 2010 5:38 p.m.

    In game ones are so much better.
  • chunko97 - February 15, 2010 6:02 p.m.

  • GameManiac - February 15, 2010 6:34 p.m.

    Yet another great reason for me to love being an escapist. Although current technology is getting to this point.
  • Bossco - February 15, 2010 7:09 p.m.

    I want a robot leg
  • Cyberninja - February 15, 2010 9:23 p.m.

    what i want to know is how the uk has so much United States infomation and i want a power suit imagine playing dodgeball with that you vs everyone else and i could single handedly win a war if games are to be believed
  • RebornKusabi - February 15, 2010 10:10 p.m.

    I recently did a thesis on Power-Armor for school so I already knew the minute I clicked on this article that Power-Armor not only exists but it actually has working PROTOTYPES lol Good stuff.
  • RebornKusabi - February 15, 2010 10:12 p.m.

    Oh and I forgot to mention, my thesis was based on the medical applications of Power Armor for the handicapped and disabled. reCAPTCHA- Asks prozac (lolwut)
  • MaynardJ - February 15, 2010 10:44 p.m.

    "That shiny skin-tight plating will really lift your buttocks", lol. I love the irony in this article.
  • lovinmyps3 - February 15, 2010 10:58 p.m.

    I'm really looking forward to mech suits! =)
  • matt588 - February 15, 2010 11:29 p.m.

    so how does the power armor displace the weight? the only way the suit in the video can work is if the suit has it's own spine(or machine equivalent) I wasn't as impressed by holding 100lbs (or what ever 40kg is) because that means the 1st thing crack is the long bones of the arm. call me when the suit has jump/ landing jets; hmm, seems like jump jets would have made this list recaptcha: "cramps found" fitting for my comment
  • skynetiscoming - February 15, 2010 11:42 p.m.

    Hopefully the HAL will lead to the end of missing limbs so we can have robotic ones that read our brain waves instead of fake plastic ones. :/ Great article BTW.
  • CH3BURASHKA - February 16, 2010 2:46 a.m.

    HAL5 seems awesome, yet dangerous in the wrong hands. I sincerely wonder whether or not such an exoskeleton will be available to plain consumers, and not reserved just for military and construction consumption.
  • Vagrant - February 16, 2010 2:53 a.m.

    That minefield lightning thing was really interesting.
  • speno93 - February 16, 2010 9:16 a.m.

    yeah i agree with skynet. The next step from that HAl exoskeleton is real replacement limbs that read your nerves and muscle movemnt in order to recreat a real arm. And that will lead to a bionic arm, which as you guys have stated before, would be awesome.
  • oryandymackie - February 16, 2010 10:51 a.m.

    I just want to kill things. 'Kay?

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