I was reminded of that sordid scene recently in Las Vegas while holding a shotgun against my shoulder and aiming at a deer galloping through the woods. I lined up my eye to the gun’s barrel, put the buck right between my sights, and pulled the trigger. I felled it with one shot. Proud of my handiwork, I stepped back and smiled. The hunter next to me, a young woman in a neon-yellow tank top and very short shorts, did not stop shooting. She fired off dozens of shots, dropping bucks and raccoons and all manner of beasts that piled up on the ground before us. When it was all over, she put down her gun and said, “Good game.” The score: 4,000 to 700. I had lost a round of Big Buck Hunter, and badly at that.
All around us inside the Hard Rock Cafe on the Vegas Strip, clusters of spectators had gathered around other arcade machines to watch players shooting lights at the digital deer, elk and bear that appeared on the screens. Like me, they were here for the Big Buck World Championship X, held during the last weekend of October, where 64 of the best Big Buck Hunter players from the United States, Australia, and Canada were competing to win a $20,000 first prize. I may have been a real hunter once upon a time. In this room, my deer-heart consumption would earn me no truck with these competitors. In this room, a good hunt was rewarded with beer and wings.