Ego shooter

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First-person shooter or FPS (from ancient Greek ἐγώ ego or modern Greek εγώ ego and Latin ego "I" as well as English shooter "shooting game", English -person first shooter , abbreviated as FPS ) are a category of computer games in which the players from the first-person view acts in a freely accessible, three-dimensional game world and fights other players or computer-controlled opponents with firearms. The character controlled by the player is human or human-like. Ego-Shooter is a word creation from the German-speaking area, in the English-speaking area one speaks of the first-person shooter .

Typical characteristics

The game world is perceived through the eyes of the player character, an exception often represent scenes is that tell the background story, but not part of the interaction are.

Field of view

Field of vision in the first person shooter (OpenArena): the weapon on the right, the life energy and ammunition display on the left, crosshairs in the center of the image
Aiming with notch and front sight (pictured: Red Orchestra )
Rifle scope (pictured: Red Orchestra )

On the PC , the field of view for first-person shooters is 90 ° by default, and 65 ° on game consoles . The player has a status display ( HUD ) at the edge of the field of vision , which provides him with basic information, for example the current state of life energy , armor or ammunition supply.

As a rule, the game character has life points that are reduced by enemy hits, falls or other environmental influences and can be regenerated using appropriate healing items (medi-kits) . The loss of all life points means the death of the player character. An automatic regeneration of the life energy can also take place (e.g. Call of Duty or Crysis ). In addition, more complex damage models are used, which take into account various aspects of the state of health (e.g. endurance, poisoning, hunger, fatigue, blood loss) and are represented by further symbols or bars.

While in the early first-person shooters the weapon was shown in the middle on the lower side of the field of vision (see Doom or Wolfenstein 3D ), it later became common for the weapon to protrude into the field of vision from the right in order to simulate a lifelike view. In the meantime, it is often possible to change the position of the weapon in order to give the impression of a left-handed protagonist.

Another common part is the crosshair ; it sits firmly in the center of the screen and is used to aim at the target. Some games such as Battlefield 4 simulate different degrees of accuracy using a dynamically changing crosshair. In some first-person shooters, where in addition to combat, interaction with the environment and with allied characters is an essential part of the game, the crosshair can turn into an interactive element such as a mouse pointer (e.g. in Doom 3 ). Current games in this genre offer the opportunity to bring the firearm used to the ready. The display of the weapon changes, so that the player now looks over the barrel of the weapon and any aiming aids ("rear sight and front sight", telescopic sight), whereby the image section is zoomed in depending on the aiming aid. The target cross is replaced by the replica of the sighting device. In addition to the better visibility of the target for the player, the precision of the weapon specified within the game mechanics also increases when attacking.

Movement and control

Until about 1996, first-person shooters were primarily controlled with arrow keys on the keyboard or joysticks . This made it possible to make forward and backward movements and rotations to the left and right. At the beginning of the 1990s, sideways evasion (punishment) was added. When the pseudo-3D game Duke Nukem 3D and the "real" 3D game Quake came on the market in 1996 , the player also had to be able to aim up and down. This was most likely possible with the mouse . In addition, further movement options and additional functions were added over time, which were assigned to various keys on the keyboard (e.g. crouching, jumping, activating special objects, selecting or putting down weapons). Since there weren't enough keys within reach around the arrow keys, the control pad was moved to the WASD keys . In modern shooters, the key assignment is freely configurable via a menu .

The mouse takes on several functions at the same time: it steers the line of sight (at the same time the target direction), rotates the body axis of the character and fires the weapon via the mouse buttons. In this way, the player can perform complex movements with high agility.


Game scene from the first person shooter Nexuiz

The use of weapons is a central element of the game. Accordingly, there is always a need to improve one's own weapons or to obtain better weapons, as the opponents usually become more numerous or more powerful as the game progresses. Typically, the player character initially only has a simple weapon, such as a weapon. B. a pistol with limited ammunition supply and as a reserve or for close combat an edged weapon available. In Wolfenstein 3D this was, for example, a knife, in Doom a brass knuckles and additionally a chainsaw , in Quake an ax and in Half-Life a crowbar. As one of the first games, Unreal broke this tradition. The so-called "Dispersion Pistol" was a weak ranged weapon with an infinite supply of ammunition, which replaced the otherwise common pistol and melee weapon. The special feature was the possibility of adapting the weapon to the increased requirements through upgrades later in the game. This game principle has now been implemented frequently. Wear and tear and thus a possibility of failure or even loss of the weapon can also be found in some representatives of these game genres.

The classic weapons are machine guns or rifles (bullets hit without delay instant hit ), automatic weapons with flying projectiles (eg., Plasma guns or nail guns ) and shotguns or pump guns , later eventually follow more powerful weapons such as sniper rifles and rocket launchers . In many games the player also has hand grenades or the like available. In classic first-person shooters (such as the Quake or the Unreal series ), the weapons are designed in such a way that they differ significantly from each other in terms of the rate of fire, dispersion, elasticity, explosion effect or speed of the projectiles and other properties without to reproduce the physical effects of the weapon too realistically and therefore, depending on the combat situation, another weapon is most useful. This weapon balance is particularly important in multiplayer mode , as the advantages and disadvantages of the weapons of all team members are balanced out depending on the situation. In first-person shooters of the newer generation, a realistic representation of the weapons and their effects is often aimed at. Due to the specifications of the game program ( engine ) or for reasons of game balance, however, there are significant deviations.

While in Wolfenstein 3D all weapons still shared a uniform type of ammunition, it has been standard since Doom (1993) that a separate ammunition type is required for each weapon (or at least each weapon group) and thus an economical use of these is another aspect of the games has been. Occasionally, different types of ammunition are available for the same weapon. For example, the ammunition for particularly powerful weapons or particularly high-quality ammunition is often limited for reasons of balance. Taking into account the limited magazine capacities brings another tactical aspect into play due to the different reloading times and frequencies. Usually, the player character only carries a few pieces of equipment with them that they can be used at any time without having to switch to an inventory screen. For this purpose, these objects are placed in certain places in the player's inventory and can be called up by pressing a key (e.g. numeric keys). In tactical shooters in particular , the player can usually only carry a limited selection of weapons with him. A melee weapon (edged weapon), a primary weapon (e.g. a rifle) and a secondary weapon (e.g. a pistol) are common here. This principle was best known through games like Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six or Counter-Strike .

The total number of items that the player character can carry in the inventory, as well as the possible effects on movement speed, stamina or other parameters can be regulated very differently in the game.

A typical problem with some games is to deprive the player of all or part of his equipment or to significantly limit its use in some other way.

Game modes

Japanese players wait in front of the cabins of the arcade first - person shooter Kidō Senshi Gundam : Senjō no Kizuna

A basic distinction must be made between the two game modes, single and multiplayer . While the single-player mode leads the player through a set sequence of locations within a narrative framework and a kind of interactive story is unfolded through the player's actions (combat, exploration of the environment and solving of environment-based puzzles), the different variants are involved the multiplayer mode is a virtual sporting game in which several players come together via the Internet or a network in order to compete in group fights, duels or team games. See also game mode (computer game) .

The original game mode is single player; since Doom , multiplayer modes have been developed for most first-person shooters. Finally, pure multiplayer first-person shooters such as Quake III Arena or Unreal Tournament appeared .


Over the years the genre of the first person shooter has increasingly differentiated, so that sub-genres have emerged. The so-called tactical shooters turn away from the fast, skill-based gameplay of the classic first-person shooters and integrate strategic aspects in which the fighting requires careful planning. Stealth shooters make the secret and quiet approach instead of open combat the principle of the game. So-called arcade shooters go in the opposite direction, staging mass battles against hordes of monsters in emphatically fantastic environments, in which reaction speed is once again the top priority (examples: Serious Sam , Painkiller ). In hero shooters, which work similarly to MOBAs , the players control a hero character who has special abilities and characteristics, and fight against other hero characters, usually in teams in which the heroes support each other through their mutual skills. (Example: Overwatch ). In so-called arena shooters, the players play in a demarcated area, which is usually characterized by fast movements, long jumps, wall runs by the players and the use of explosive weapons (e.g. Quake ). Some first-person shooters also incorporate role-play aspects, such as: B. Deus Ex . Ego shooters can also belong to the genres Survival Horror (example: Left 4 Dead ) or Battle Royale (example: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds or Fortnite ).

Although the first person perspective can also be found in flight simulators , racing games , mech games and games with other vehicles, they do not belong to the genre of first person shooters because they lack the characteristic that is essential for a first person shooter, the human or human-like shape of the character . Also Adventures and role play are partly played in first-person view, but there are no first-person shooter, unless makes the fight with firearms the majority of the game action.

There are also third-person shooters , which often play in a similar way to first-person shooters, but show the character from the perspective of the pursuer .



The first games that implemented the basic gameplay of first-person shooters were developed in 1973 with Maze War and Spasim , although even the developers no longer know which one appeared first.

With Battlezone of Atari 1980, the first appeared arcade game with a 3D central perspective. Here you controlled a tank and had to shoot other tanks on the virtual battlefield, the entire landscape was shown as a wire frame model. In 1982, Stellar 7 appeared on the Apple II, a clone for home computers . However, since both games are controlled by tanks, they are rather indirectly early first-person shooters. A number of games followed, first in a wireframe model, then with objects made up of solid-colored areas, but in which one only ever controlled vehicles. Textures were only introduced in the course of the development of the first-person shooter. The basic technology is also very similar to today's 3D graphics, while the first games that became known as first-person shooters technically go back to the racing games of the time.

The Eidolon , produced in 1984 by Lucasfilm Games (now LucasArts ) for Atari 8-bit and Commodore 64 , also shows elements that are familiar from today's first-person shooters.

1987 appeared with MIDI Maze for the Atari ST not only the first full-fledged first person shooter, but also the first multiplayer game that was played via networked computers - albeit via a MIDI interface. In addition, the game renounced any representation of violence, the exaggeration of which later played an important role in the genre. As a result, there was also a first form of quasi- LAN parties , albeit far less often than z. B. 1995, as there were far fewer computer users at the time.

In the form as it is known today, the genre was prepared by id Software with the title Catacomb 3-D . This appeared in 1991 and contained many essential elements that were also to be found in the following games of this type. However, first-person shooters first became known through Wolfenstein 3D (1992) and above all through Doom (1993), both of which were also developed by id Software. Since in Wolfenstein 3D the player fights against Nazis in the role of an American agent, the game uses numerous Nazi symbols in the design of the game environment, which is why it was confiscated nationwide in Germany in 1994 because of the use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations . Doom was indexed by the federal inspection agency for media harmful to minors because of its depictions of violence .

Doom gave the genre its breakthrough and gave id Software (and especially John Carmack and John Romero ) a legendary reputation. Many basic elements of the first person shooter gameplay , which are standard to this day, were introduced by Doom , for example separate types of ammunition for each weapon (in Wolfenstein there were still standard ammunition). Since then, the history of id Software has been closely linked to the history of the first person shooter. Contrary to what has been claimed, none of id Software's games was influenced by the role-playing game Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss .

From this point on, a large number of first-person shooters came onto the market. In 1994, Rise of the Triad , which was originally planned as the successor to Wolfenstein 3D, and in 1996 Duke Nukem 3D by 3D Realms . In contrast to previous first-person shooters, in which a mostly nameless player character was filled in by the player himself in order to achieve greater immersion , Duke Nukem appeared for the first time as an independent character by making himself noticeable during the course of the game through spoken, ironic comments made.

In the same year, i.e. 1996, Quake by id Software appeared and took the genre to the next level: For the first time, not only the level architecture, but also all characters, objects and weapons were displayed in three dimensions (one of the first games to feature the floating Point unit of the processor, later with OpenGL interface support, glQuake ). This was not only visually more appealing, but also opened up a new dimension in terms of play. The Quake engine allowed a really complex architecture for the first time: While in the previous engines only vertical walls were possible and two rooms could not be on top of each other but only next to each other, inclined surfaces and any nested room constructions could now be realized.

Subsequently, around 30% of all first-person shooters in the next few years were based on Quake technology or can be traced back to it. Quake was also one of the first games that already featured comprehensive multiplayer functionality in the delivery state , the support of the Internet protocol (IP) was rarely found at that time, slow modem-to-modem, serial Laplink or at best IPX / SPX connections supported. For the first time, IP opened the door to the Internet a crack. Thanks to the modular structure of the engine (3D models, sound data, scripts / keyboard layouts), the player was able to easily change his game for the first time without extensive programming knowledge - modifications were already known and common in the times of the first Doom part, but with the simple one As the Quake engine was built, there was a first big boom of new modifications, which have since been adopted as game modes in many other first-person shooters, such as Capture the Flag , Rocket Arena or the class-based Team Fortress .

While so far mostly very gloomy horror and science fiction scenarios have been used as a background, Unreal inspired many players in 1998 with an often fairytale-like setting and a level design that set new standards in terms of graphics as well as the monumentality and size of the landscapes and architectures sat. Also in 1998, Half-Life was released , which brought the development of the plot in the game to a new level through the skillful integration of acting characters in script sequences . This development has continued, and so you will find an atmosphere in many later games like Doom 3 or Far Cry that comes close to that of a movie. The modding scene also gained another major boost thanks to Half-Life. At the same time, the multiplayer functions continued to gain in importance, which was also promoted by a user-friendly “in-game server browser”. Counter-Strike is currently the most famous multiplayer game of the tactical shooter and attributes its existence to a half-life mod.

In the second half of the 1990s, other sub-classes of first-person shooters slowly began to emerge. A distinction is now made between tactical shooters, pure multiplayer shooters, action adventures and many other sub-groups. In addition, there are now a large number of scenarios in which the games are set and which often incorporate suggestions from literature and film. From fantasy to science fiction to the time of the world wars, everything is represented.

The financial success of the first person shooter led many game manufacturers to try their hand at this genre. This is also could graphics engines such successful game companies. B. id Software or Epic Games . As first-person shooters gradually became known to a wider public, the violence often discussed in this genre also became the object of criticism.

In 2004, the software company Crytek was the first German developer to have international success in the genre with Far Cry . The Cry engine made it possible to display very large outdoor areas with no or only short intermediate loading sequences. The graphic representation of the landscape and vegetation was outstanding in Far Cry . During the level design, emphasis was placed on non-linear elements by providing the player with different paths to the next goal in many situations. With the supplied sandbox level editor, it was very easy to create game environments directly in 3D. With other editors it was previously only possible to work with floor plan, elevation and cross view and a small 3D preview - Far Cry's Sandbox Editor is, so to speak, the first WYSIWYG editor for complex 3D engines.

The publication of Half-Life 2 in November 2004 is worth mentioning because of the innovative handling of the new physics engine. The physics engine, which is mainly based on Havok , took interactivity in the game to a new level and was used both in combat and in some puzzle tasks. Many new game modes were created on the Source Engine , in particular the modification Garry's Mod is an outstanding example here. In a team-oriented style of play, the purpose of the game is no longer primarily to eliminate the opponent by force of arms, but rather to eliminate him in a skill competition with several disciplines to beat.

Player Numbers

Sales and player numbers are very rarely published by the developers and distributors.

Valve / Steam

With the Steam client, Valve regularly determines the latest statistics that can be used as a guide. At peak times in 2007, an average of over 250,000 players played Counter-Strike and 100,000 players played Counter-Strike: Source. All the evaluated Steam games together result in almost 500,000 players who are logged into 250,000 game servers via Steam. These play (with a few exceptions) first-person shooters with or against each other, single player games are not included in these numbers.

At the beginning of 2011, the number of players in Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Source fell sharply (around 80,000 each at the same time). This can be explained by the fact that games in the Call-of-Duty series as well as Left 4 Dead and its successors now take up significant parts of the statistics. However, the absolute number of players in all games has risen to around 3.5 million simultaneously registered players. The ten most played games include seven first-person shooters; among the 100 most played games, around 30% of the games can be assigned to the first-person shooter genre.


Often discussed: Depiction of violence in first person shooters (in the picture OpenArena)

The connection between virtual violence in computer games and real violence is scientifically controversial. The spectrum of the discussed effects goes from no effect to an increase in aggression / brutalization to a reduction in aggression ( catharsis effect ). In more recent summarizing studies, for example by Bielefeld University or the Canadian psychologist Jonathan Freedman , it is pointed out that no direct, causal connection between the media representation of violence (e.g. in first- person shooters or so-called splatter films ) and acts of violence can be identified. A number of those skilled in the art consider depictions of violence to be associated with a risk of effect, i.e. H. in certain groups or individuals, these, in conjunction with other factors (such as social or family environment; predisposition ), could lead to increased propensity for violence or aggressive behavior; whereby the role of media violence seems relatively small here. Many players themselves do not see any aggression encouragement from such games. As one as bad but perceived film can also as bad trigger perceived's aggression and strengthen.

Nevertheless, computer games and especially first-person shooters are often cited as causes of extreme acts of violence by young people. The reasons are, on the one hand, the explicit representation of violence , on the other hand, acts of violence such as the school massacre in Littleton (April 20, 1999) at Columbine High School in Colorado, USA, the rampage at Gutenberg High School in Erfurt in April 2002 or in Winnenden in March 2009 called. In all three cases, the assassins owned first person shooters. In a controversial discussion, this has repeatedly been presented by some parties as being decisive for the acts of violence.

A ban on such "violence-glorifying games" - Bavaria's then Interior Minister Günther Beckstein coined the term " killer games " - was a particularly controversial issue in the 2000s . In this discussion in 2002 Beckstein spoke out in favor of an absolute ban on distribution and production of films and computer games that glorified violence. However, at this point in time, the glorification of violence had long been a criminal offense in the German Criminal Code ( Section 131 StGB). The current provisions on the protection of minors in the media that were subsequently adopted came into force on April 1, 2003. In its coalition agreement, the CDU / CSU / SPD coalition announced in November 2005 a legislative initiative to ban “cultural goods glorifying violence”, but not implemented it afterwards.


Some studies support criticism of violent computer games such as first-person shooters, mostly with regard to possible negative effects on children and adolescents. Manfred Spitzer argues in his book “Beware of the screen”: “Computer and video games actively train entire sequences of action through many repetitions via identification with an aggressor without a break and with the reward of aggression and violence. […] So when young people play violent video games, they change their perception that others are more likely to be viewed as opponents and enemies. You practice aggressive feelings, thoughts and behaviors. "

However, many of the studies have come under fire because measuring aggression in laboratory conditions poses some problems. It can be a problem that too dissimilar games are used for the tests - for example when a group is playing Counter-Strike and a comparison group is playing Tetris - so that in the end it is not possible to conclusively say whether violence was actually the decisive factor. The biggest problems, however, only arise during the actual experiment. Almost all research is based on post-game tests to measure any increased aggression. The most frequently used test is the so-called Competitive Reaction Time Task (CRTT), which, however, is available in different versions that also have a strong influence on the result. In the extreme case, one version of the CRTT could favor the result that violence in computer games makes you more aggressive, while another leads to the conclusion that gaming has no effect or even makes you more peaceful.

There has so far been no clear evidence of the thesis that violence in computer and video games leads to violence in real life. 2011 summed Supreme Court of the United States in the case v Brown. The Entertainment Merchants Association put together studies that were supposed to prove such an effect in such a way that they did not prove that violence in games provokes aggressive acts by minors. In addition, the studies are based solely on correlation , which is no evidence of causality (see Cum hoc ergo propter hoc ). Furthermore, most of the studies would suffer from significant methodological flaws.

In addition to this criticism, studies are also carried out at irregular intervals by various institutes that prove that ego shooters, e.g. B. can improve comprehension, eyesight or reaction speed of the player:

Well-known representatives

The following titles had a significant influence on the development of the first-person shooter genre in terms of gameplay or game mechanics , technology or game culture:

for more first-person shooters see: Category: First-person shooter


  • Matthias Bopp, Rolf F. Nohr, Serjoscha Wiemer (eds.): Shooter. A multidisciplinary introduction. LIT Verlag , Münster 2009, ISBN 978-3-643-10189-1 .
  • Christoph Bareither: Ego-Shooter game culture. An online ethnography . (= Studies and materials from the Ludwig Uhland Institute at the University of Tübingen; 45). Tübingen Association for Folklore, Tübingen, 2012, ISBN 978-3-932512-75-9


In April 2014 at the 10th Fright Nights in Vienna, the German horror film " FPS - First Person Shooter " by director Andreas Tom premiered. FPS is the world's first film that is told entirely from the first person and mimics classic first person shooters. The action film Hardcore from 2015 is based on the perspective of a first-person shooter.

The film Gamer is dedicated to a futuristic first-person shooter esports tournament in which prisoners are remotely controlled as real people.

Web links

Commons : First-person shooter video game screenshots  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: First person shooter  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. The representation of a sheaf of shot is often not done by calculating all the individual pellets, but as a particularly large projectile, which moreover only loses its energy and thus damage effect linearly with the distance. Due to the continued fanning out, however, the damage effect would have to decrease by the square of the distance. As a result, the sheaf of shot appears to be fanned out to the maximum immediately after the muzzle of the weapon and does not lose enough intensity by the end of its range.
  2. The best hero shooters that you absolutely have to play. August 6, 2016, accessed June 7, 2019 .
  3. Return of the Arena Shooter - Why the good old gameplay is coming back in 2017. March 28, 2017. Retrieved June 7, 2019 .
  4. The Maze War 30 Year Retrospective at (English)
  5. ^ Steam: Game and Player Statistics. In: Retrieved October 24, 2013 .
  6. ^ Steam: Game and Player Statistics. In: Retrieved October 24, 2013 .
  7. Manfred Spitzer: Beware of the screen . Klett Verlag 2005, ISBN 3-12-010170-2 , pages 216 ff.
  8. Christopher D. Fiorillo, Philippe N. Tobler, Wolfram Schultz : Discrete coding of reward probability . 2003, Science, Vol. 299, pp. 1898-1902.
  9. Violence in Computer Games: Methods of Impact Research
  10. SCOTUS, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Assn., 564 US 08-1448, pp. 12 f.
  11. Florian Rötzer: Computer games improve attention - Telepolis. In: Retrieved October 24, 2013 .
  12. Psychology - With first-person shooters against fear of spiders - Panorama - Sü (No longer available online.) In: Formerly in the original ; Retrieved October 24, 2013 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  13. Half-Life - wonder game now also cures arachnophobia - In: Retrieved October 24, 2013 .
  14. Behavior Research & Therapy, 1998, Vol. 36, Issue 2, page 239 ff. "Virtual reality treatment of claustrophobia"
  15. Study - Unreal Tournament better than Tetris? - In: Retrieved October 24, 2013 .
  16.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Study: "Action video games sharpen eyesight"@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /