A manufacturer in China is poised to mass-produce the gun.
The gun is so realistic, two defense contractors who produce virtual training systems contacted Kotkin through Kickstarter. On the other hand, Kotkin believes concerns about controversy have scared away some potential partners, like programmer Arduino and a public relations firm whose owner cited “moral reservations.”
“There’s a red line in the sand, but there’s another extreme where you cut off creativity and get into censorship,” he said. “I’d say this is pushing it a little bit. But I don’t think this is going too far.”
Some disagree, and strongly.
“This is so over the top, so extreme, you’ll probably see legislation at the state or federal level to outlaw this kind of thing for sale to civilians,” said Jack Thompson, a disbarred Coral Gables attorney who is among the country’s foremost critics of violent video games.
Even Kotkin’s wife, Melissa, is uncomfortable. She has refused to let their sons, Matthew, 11, and Ethan, 8, play with it.
“I’m proud of him for all the accomplishments of his creativity,” said Melissa. “But when it comes to the gaming gun, you look at all the violence that’s occurred and it’s really difficult for me to say this is a great idea.”
Kotkin is unapologetic. In October, he pulled his gun off the market after taking what he called unfair media criticism. At the time, he said he was going to make the Delta Six less realistic. But he said he began to lose support, so he’s going full bore, and marketing the gun to all ages.
Christopher Ferguson, a Texas A&M associate professor whose studies show violent video games may actually relieve stress, sides with the Delta Six.
He said there’s no evidence to prove that a more realistic toy gun makes for a deeper psychological influence.
“Otherwise, simply playing cops and robbers, and cowboys and Indians decades ago would have sent people over the edge,” he said.
A video Kotkin directed and used to market the Delta Six suggests that gamers are on board. Using a vinyl-clad model to display the gun might have helped, too.
“I’m dying to play it again,” one gamer says.
It may just be that technology like Kotkin’s gun is the future of the industry.
Other inventors are producing gaming products that further immerse gamers in a world of virtual reality. Kotkin is partnering with several, including the Omni by Virtuix, a treadmill that allows gamers to move their characters by running, and ARAIG — an acronym for As Real As It Gets — which is creating a sensory suit that reacts to game play.
Michael Stanfield of ARAIG said it’s all about sensible entertainment.
“We all want to create a virtual world that’s a little deeper than it is today, to move the technology further,” he said. “But I do think there’s a line.”