Archery may no longer be a core component of modern warfare, but the bow and arrow is alive and well in popular culture.
By most estimates, the bow and arrow combination dates back to 25,000-30,000 years ago, and yet it’s never entirely gone away.
“No other weapon fills such a broad role, nor is any other ingrained as deeply into human culture,” explains Stuart Brown in his new video [above: 20:10] about the history of the bow and arrow. “Such a simple thing, and yet its effect could not be more profound. The bow and arrow [is] elegant, effective, [and] eternal. ”
Brown’s bow and arrow history video was posted on the Ahoy YouTube channel, and it uses footage from several different video games to chart the evolution of archery from the prehistory era to the present and beyond. It turns out that video games are well suited for this, as the bow and arrow remains a popular weapon of choice for gamers and developers.
Part of the appeal of the bow and arrow is that it is a remarkably efficient way to hunt and kill, despite being a relatively low tech weapon. As Brown notes in the video, the design and material of the bow and arrow has drastically changed over the years, but the basic function remains the same. The bow and arrow is such a versatile weapon that it appears in almost every genre of gaming, from role playing games, to fighting games, adventure games, and even a few first-person-shooter titles that allow players to equip bows and arrows that are just short of science fiction.
“On a very basic level, it’s just a fun weapon to use, even if most players would struggle with an actual bow and arrow in real life.” – Blair Marnell
This video is just over 20 minutes, and worth every minute. [Be aware that there is a good deal of computer game violence.]
It drives home the fact that The Hunger Games, Brave, and The Avengers were only exclamation points in the eternal story of our fascination with archery. Other ancient weapons have faded in proportion to their decline in actual hunting and combat utility.
Bow hunting is an anachronism, and no army has been issued bows and arrows for hundreds of years. Our attachment to archery is primal… meaning not only historic, but basic… essential.
That message is deeply communicated not only by the narration, but by the illustration, which is almost entirely done with clips from modern computer games… not historical documentary film… computer games.
We have the opportunity to eliminate the violence, but to maintain and actually increase the competitive excitement and athleticism of computer archery.