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Columbine Game Kicked From Slamdance Festival

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the pressure-brought-to-bear dept.

Censorship 209

Imaria writes "A Kotaku post has the news that Super Columbine Massacre RPG! has been kicked out of the Slamdance Gamemaker Festival. After reaching the finals, the organizers were forced to remove the game from the running to appease mounting external pressure. According to the post, this is the first time in the Slamdance Festival's 13 year history that they have removed either a game or film due to criticism. From the article: '[Game creator] Ledonne said that he bears no ill will toward the festival, but that the decision to pull the game does raise concerns about freedom of speech and video game development. "I don't want to paint them as the villain in this," he said. "I don't think the real issue is a couple of guys at Slamdance who decided to reject my game, it's the larger pressures placed on them."'"

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209 comments

Taste (1)

supersonicjim (1043458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17472784)

It doesn't sound like a very tasteful game.

Re:Taste (1)

brouski (827510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17472836)

Agreed. But then neither is Grand Theft Auto.

Re:Taste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17473592)

GTA isn't based on one real event - its based on police blotters and nonsense. How many people do you see hijacking cop cars and shooting tanks with BFG's?

Re:Taste (1)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474246)

How many germans do you see die to RPGs and WW2 assault weapons.

Re:Taste (1)

1_brown_mouse (160511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17472880)

When has taste ever entered into it? Is it cool or have good graphics or fun game play or excellent sound track?

Is GTA tasteful? Good lord.

Re:Taste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17472906)

Neither did BMX XXX, it still got released.

Re:Taste (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473090)

It doesn't sound like a very tasteful game.

Neither did Elephant [wikipedia.org] , but it won a Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Or Zero Day [wikipedia.org] , which also won several independant film awards.

If a movie touches a controversial subject, it's considered avant-guard and the director worthy of praise for daring to tackle such a "hard" issue. If a serious game that uses an interactive medium to try to do the same (SCMRPG is basically Zero Day in RPG form), it's not even worthy of consideration?

Re:Taste (1)

Atheose (932144) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473268)

If a movie touches a controversial subject, it's considered avant-guard and the director worthy of praise for daring to tackle such a "hard" issue. If a serious game that uses an interactive medium to try to do the same (SCMRPG is basically Zero Day in RPG form), it's not even worthy of consideration?
The festival felt that this game would offend more people than it interested, which would be bad for them both in the short run and the long run. It was a sound business decision.

Re:Taste (2, Insightful)

Attrition_cp (888039) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473450)

I believe the complaints actually come from it being a business decision.

Re:Taste (2, Insightful)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473534)

The sponsors felt that this game would offend more paying customers than it interested, which would be bad for corporate PR both in the short run and the long run. It was a sound business decision.

Just felt I had to clarify that. The sponsors basically told Slamdance that they were pulling out just because of the controversy surrounding the nomination. The judges clearly felt that SCMRPG was a worthy selection, or they wouldn't have chosen it in the first place.

Ironically, the author initially resisted the idea, because he forsaw the media circus it would cause. I guess he knew that an interactive quasi-documentary wouldn't get the same respect as a "real" quasi-documentary.

These festivals are supposed to be for celebrating artists who dare to tackle the issue the mob-friendly mass-production studios won't touch. That's the whole point.

Re:Taste (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473526)

It doesn't sound like a very tasteful game.
 
Neither did Elephant [wikipedia.org] , but it won a Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Or Zero Day [wikipedia.org] , which also won several independant film awards.
 
If a movie touches a controversial subject, it's considered avant-guard and the director worthy of praise for daring to tackle such a "hard" issue. If a serious game that uses an interactive medium to try to do the same (SCMRPG is basically Zero Day in RPG form), it's not even worthy of consideration?
If Elephant had been named "Super Columbine Massacre" most people would never have considered screening or viewing it. If the game developers really want to convince people that they've produced a game that assists people in thoughtfully examining the nature and causes of school shootings, they should try re-releasing the game with the respect, decency, and gravitas that anything dealing with those events deserves. I see know reason to sympathize with people who claim to be producing thoughtful content but treat it in a way that is inexcusably sophomoric.

Re:Taste (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473676)

I see know reason to sympathize with people who claim to be producing thoughtful content but treat it in a way that is inexcusably sophomoric.

I'll grant you that it may have been a poor choice of title. But isn't it also a commentary on the fact that a) people judge a book by it's cover (would you play "Super Gory Nazi Slaughter Simulator, now with Extra Blood!", aka Castle Wolfenstein), b) people who can't get past the title maybe shouldn't be judging it at all, and c) possibly to make you think about how some games overhype the fact that they are "ultra" violent. It's tongue in cheek, just like Bowling for Columbine isn't really about how Columbine was caused by bowling...

Re:Taste (1)

Thraxen (455388) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473568)

There's rather big difference between addressing a tough subject matter and not using a real event or even turning a real event into a movie and turning a real event into a game. I haven't played the game so I don't know how it actually plays, but it really doesn't sound like it crosses a line that should not be crossed. Should it be deemed illegal or prevent from distribution? No. But if I was head of an event like I'd kick their ass out on the street too. That would be MY right just as much as they had the right to create the game. Some of you seem to lose sight of the fact that freedom works for both sides.

Re:Taste (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473752)

There's rather big difference between addressing a tough subject matter and not using a real event or even turning a real event into a movie and turning a real event into a game.

Forget game. Try wording it as follows: "There's rather big difference between addressing a tough subject matter and not using a real event or even turning a real event into a movie and turning a real event into a interactive movie."

MTV can tackle the horrors of Darfur through interactive flash animations, why can't an interactive RPG walk you through the events of that day? Why is it less deserving than a movie that does the same? Or is it just that you don't consider "games" as capable of tackling serious issues? Is it just the use of medium that you object to?

Re:Taste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17473908)

Nor would a game about eating Irish babies [wikipedia.org] .

Fools. (5, Insightful)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17472826)

If they didn't want to deal with this sort of thing they should have never accepted the entry. But letting it get to the finals and then kicking it out?

Cowards. I am losing respect for almost every aspect of today's society and its dogma propped institutions. If it negatively affects our commercial viability, our image, we must condemn it. Never mind what the game is actually trying to do, move the medium forward by using it as a means to address complex social issues - not just shoot space baddies.

Re:Fools. (1)

DeeDob (966086) | more than 7 years ago | (#17472988)

Arn't there better ways to "address complex social issues" than in a game where people are supposed to have "fun" with it?

If it was an educational game that actually teached something, i'd have less problem with it, but this one was clearly meant for the entertainment value.

Like someone else said: it is of poor taste.

In other news on /.: a game maker is making a game about nazis gas chambers: a simulator of people choking to death and a second game about kidnapping and raping people. When confronted on the controversy of it's games, the game maker said: "it is freedom of speech, it gives me the license to do whatever i want".

Re:Fools. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17473056)

If it was an educational game that actually teached something

I heard it had a level that teached spelling and grammar.

Re:Fools. (3, Insightful)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473200)

Arn't there better ways to "address complex social issues" than in a game where people are supposed to have "fun" with it?

There's a new type of game out there, Serious Games. The flash games MTV sponsored to raise awareness of Darfur are another example. They're not meant to be "fun", they're meant to explore their subject material using an "interactive medium".

If it was an educational game that actually teached something, i'd have less problem with it, but this one was clearly meant for the entertainment value.

Have you tried playing it? Or have you just decided that it's "clearly for entertainment" just because NBC said so? Please don't fall into that trap. As I mentioned in an above comment, think of this as an interactive documentary, with some fictional elements added in (the trip to Hell for one) in an attempt to walk you through the thought processes of the killers. You're not meant to have "fun", you're meant to understand what happened. Demonizing the killers and leaving it at that does nothing to prevent the next crisis. Understanding their emotions, their thoughts, what they were going through, will help you to better figure out WHY.

When confronted on the controversy of it's games, the game maker said: "it is freedom of speech, it gives me the license to do whatever i want".

I disagree. I read it to say "Freedom of speech allows me to discuss controversial issues that would otherwise be banned by the mob." Besides, movies doing the exact same thing (Elephant, Zero Day) got film awards for walking you through the exact same material. Were they "fun"? Of course not.

Re:Fools. (4, Insightful)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473552)

Mark Ames recently wrote a book, called Going Postal. One of his theories about the phenomenon of "Going Postal" both in the schoolyard and the office, is that there are powerful, institutional forces at work that have a vested interest in people NOT understanding this phenomenon. If they can't get people to drop it with, "they were just kooks," (which becomes difficult when it becomes a trend) they have to come up with an excuse (video games, antidepressants, etc.) to explain the trend without getting to actual causes.

Basically, these events are an inevitable result of certain situations that are allowed to go unresolved, relentless pressure that causes a mental breakdown in certain people in our society, leading to these kamikaze missions. Demonizing these killers is useless, many of them intend to die either by their own hands or at the hands of the authorities. It's not like even the ones who survive get off with light sentences.

The plaintive "Why" at then end of one of these massacres is an important question that needs an honest, rational and thoughtful answer. However, such an answer will lead to calls for reform, which the people who push irrational, demagogic explanations for these events want to avoid.

Slamdance is supposed to be a place for controversial media that is to hot for even Sundance, so being too hot for Slamdance is something of an honor.

Re:Fools. (4, Insightful)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473202)

Arn't there better ways to "address complex social issues" than in a game where people are supposed to have "fun" with it?

If it was an educational game that actually teached something, i'd have less problem with it, but this one was clearly meant for the entertainment value.

Have you played the game? I have, and let me tell you something - it has zero entertainment value. It's entertainment level is just enough to keep you progressing through it. Also, this is an attempt to move the medium forward. You need to get off the nomen of "game" as it is outdated. A lot of these things aren't "games" anymore. Using your mentality we never should have let the "talkies" move into a training or education tool. We never should have let radiotelegraphy and spark gap transmissions move into the realm of entertainment.

Like someone else said: it is of poor taste.
Poor taste is not a viable criteria for art or education.

In other news on /.: a game maker is making a game about nazis gas chambers: a simulator of people choking to death and a second game about kidnapping and raping people. When confronted on the controversy of it's games, the game maker said: "it is freedom of speech, it gives me the license to do whatever i want".
Welcome to the downside of free speech. Deal with it. Seriously, if you don't like it - don't view it - but the opinion that you should be able to categorize and then subdue some content based on your fragile sensibilities is not only fascist, but downright ignorant. Free speech comes with the requirement that people can self regulate what they choose to consume.

Re:Fools. (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473292)

Poor taste is not a viable criteria for art or education.

That explains a lot about modern society.

Re:Fools. (4, Funny)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473218)

I face complex social issues in video games every day. Silent Storm [gamespy.com] presents me with difficult situations: should I sneak behind him and empty my pistol into his back, or should I kill him with a frag grenade? Where should I place this anti-personnel mine to maximize casualties? There are no easy answers.

Re:Fools. (1)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474330)

I do recall people having fun with an JFK shooting re-enactment game.

You don't pull a finalist. They should have committed.

Re:Fools. (0)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473780)


Never mind what the game is actually trying to do, move the medium forward by using it as a means to address complex social issues

I played the game. I never got the feeling I was "addressing complex socal issues", it felt more like the message was trying to somewhat glorify the Columbine nutjobs. I don't think it should have been banned however. Frankly it wasn't a very good game and I'm a bit surprised it was chosen for anything. Then again maybe all the games they selected were crap, and this was just typical crap.

I guess I'm more than a little suspicious of the whole "addressing complex social issue" dodge. Can someone who's actually played the game tell me how exactly it does that?

Re:Fools. (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474100)

I guess I'm more than a little suspicious of the whole "addressing complex social issue" dodge. Can someone who's actually played the game tell me how exactly it does that?

Did you come away from the game understanding more about what kind of pressures and personal decisions helped shape the events of that day? If so, then the game did it's job.

Simply demonizing the participants does nothing to prevent the next crisis. Understanding the motivations (and remember, that's different from sypathizing with them) helps you to understand WHY. Without WHY, you are only left to guess, and guess motivations leads to solutions that fail to address the actual problem. Solutions like kicking out problem students instead of offering them counseling. Columbine led to a lot of stereotyping and zero-tolerance policies, which completely failed to address the root problems.

Re:Fools. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474832)


Did you come away from the game understanding more about what kind of pressures and personal decisions helped shape the events of that day?

No. I also don't believe that some game developer could know any of that. This isn't a biography of the Columbine nuts, it's just a dumb game portraying them.

Simply demonizing the participants does nothing to prevent the next crisis. Understanding the motivations

Sure, but the game did nothing in terms of that. Frankly I think that's probbably an impossible task. What makes the game developer think he understands the motivations of the Columbine nuts? Maybe by some miracle he does.. but I got zero understanding of them from that game.

Solutions like kicking out problem students instead of offering them counseling. Columbine led to a lot of stereotyping and zero-tolerance policies, which completely failed to address the root problems.

Those are nice ideas, however none of them are addressed in the game.

Re:Fools. (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474436)

It was made by a 24 year old film school graduate, a class of people that are not known for their subtlety or artistic refinement, but are known for their healthy opinions of their own abilities. I'm sure he meant it to be social commentary, but he wasn't experienced enough to pull it off.

I say "good" (2, Insightful)

bilbravo (763359) | more than 7 years ago | (#17472908)

The article didn't give much of an overview of the game (as stated that they did not get a chance to get the storyline), but I'd say "good" from what I speculate the game is about. I'd imagine it's about being the killers, and that is just sick. Everyone hates that video games are "the cause of violence", per certain lawmakers--but this type of game just fuels that fire.

In a very sensitive area of school-related violence, Columbine is one of the biggest--and also happens to have a violent video game associated with it--DOOM.

I'm not against violent video games, I happen to enjoy quite a few myself. But the idea of an RPG where the player is becoming one of these 2 kids is sickening. It's not "too soon", it will never be time for a game like this. I guess it's a double standard to say that reliving WW2 in so many FPS games is the same idea, but to me being a kid going through a school killing your peers is something nobody should WANT to do...

Re:I say "good" (2, Insightful)

mdozturk (973065) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473010)

I agree it is tasteless, but this kind of thinking is what causes things to eventually be banned. It is never OK to ban creativity because you think that it is "just sick".

I wonder how long it is going to take Clinton to come out and say something about this game?

Re:I say "good" (1)

bilbravo (763359) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473078)

I agree, censorship is a touchy area--but nobody banned the game, they just removed it from their competition. It's a slippery slope to say that removing games from a competition is going to lead to them getting banned... but maybe you are correct. Maybe they shouldn't have bowed to the pressure, but I can understand it. Peer pressure is a big deal, don't you remember high school? :-) Just kidding...

Re:I say "good" (1)

mdozturk (973065) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473214)

Sadly Columbine is a taboo subject in our society. Banning something should really be whats taboo. We need to shame this contest not for allowing a game like this but for NOT allowing it.

Re:I say "good" (0, Flamebait)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473464)

I think the game is wrong. Something like this should never be produced. Never. But you're right that stifling creativity is generally wrong. Usually, people will do that with their $'s. But often times it doesn't work. Often times you get your Tim Robbins and your Susan Sarandons and other relatively mindless do-gooder's [wikipedia.org] trying to save the world promoting crap and the mindless drones that follow them are perfectly happy to accept this too. I only mention Tim and Susan because they scare the shit out of me when they appear together, like Lord Vader (Sarandon) with the Emperor(Robbins) silently standing behind watching. If they ever got elected to office.... woah...

Re:I say "good" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17473012)

Except you're dead wrong.

The title of the game is somewhat tongue in cheek. Google it, you'll find it actually has somewhat significant literary/artistic merit...

Re:I say "good" (1)

psiclops (1011105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473088)

but if i were feeling the frustrations of school life, wouldn't you rather i vented via a game, instead taking my frustrations out on fellow classmates?

Re:I say "good" (1)

bilbravo (763359) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473128)

Actually, I'd prefer you get therapy. I was a geek in high school, and picked on a lot. Some nights I would cry myself to sleep over it (yes, I'm man enough to admit that). However, I never dreamed and/or fantasized about killing my classmates though. Maybe tripping them in the hallway, but not mass-murder!

Re:I say "good" (1)

psiclops (1011105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473256)

yeah but not everyone's you. and few are going to go out and get therapy.

Re:I say "good" (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473492)

yeah but not everyone's you. and few are going to go out and get therapy.

Especially since guns are cheaper.

Re:I say "good" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17473110)

I'm pretty sure freedom of speech was never meant to be used by people who show total disregard for
human tragedy, that happend so recently, in the name of entertainment and/or profit.

Shooting school children in a game is not a social study unless your studieng how to effectively desensitise
people against the murder of children.

Re:I say "good" (4, Insightful)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473738)

Pretty sure it was.

You don't need any sort of "freedom of speech" to agree with the general consensus-- Nobody is ever going to stop you from parroting their views and agreeing with everyone. Hell, at worst you'll just end up being elected to an office.

Now, if you want to actually go against the grain and vocalize something controversial that most people wouldn't agree with or find acceptable, THAT is when you need freedom of speech protecting you.

As for this game specificially, I don't know enough about it to say anything. If it really puts you in the kids mindset by telling the story and really putting you in the experience it could be a great thing to help people understand something few can.
Or maybe it will be a really bad game hidden under the veil of some columbine references. Too early to tell. Think of it like this: Theres a world of difference between what most would consider child porn and Taxi Driver, but "a movie about a 12 year old prostitute" could cover them both and if you immediately discard it based on it being a touchy subject, you'll never know.

Re:I say "good" (2, Interesting)

projektsilence (988729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473168)

But it's cool to play as the Nazi's in some of those WWII FPS games? Or it's ok to play GTA and kill cops and hookers? Most people don't object loudly to these games because we're relatively desensitized to this type of violence, but when it hits so close to home, something we all read about or saw on the television, then the games is WRONG! I don't know what the game is about so I can't say whether or not it's a game that should be condemned like this. I think it is impressive that someone is pushing an envelope of this nature with the government in the position it's in. How many other people would have the balls to do something like this? I can only imagine the sort of email they get about this game. We do still live in a free country, right?

Re:I say "good" (0, Troll)

Atheose (932144) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473370)

Those hookers deserved it... bitches need to give daddy his money on time.

Re:I say "good" (1)

cHALiTO (101461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473918)

I wonder if someone did something similar but relating 9/11. Like going all the way from joining al-quaeda to the final sequence with a flight sim over manhattan.
And I don't mean a simple flash thingy, I mean something serious like this 'game'. What do you think would happen?
(or maybe it already exists and I haven't seen it?)

Re:I say "good" (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474140)

I wonder if someone did something similar but relating 9/11.

The commission that made the 9/11 report authorized a comic-book version, because the visual medium made some discussion of timelines and events easier to follow...

There is also a "game" where your job is to try to escape from the Towers after the attack. Some missions you "win" by escaping, others you are forced to either perish in flames, or jump. The idea was to illustrate what people had to go through on that day.

Re:I say "good" (1)

cHALiTO (101461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474308)

Yeah, well, the idea was to 'play' it from the terrorists perspective.

Re:I say "good" (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474596)

How do you understand the terrorists' perspective if you don't see it through their eyes?

Why is it acceptable to roleplay the bad guy/opposition as a training tool, but not when done through this kind of medium? Is it just the medium that causing all the grief?

Re:I say "good" (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474010)

I think this would be more similar to a GTA mod/clone where you are a specific real-life serial killer, and your victims are the real-life cops and hookers killed by that guy.

Re:I say "good" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17473250)

You have no idea what the game is about, but you're glad that it has been censored. That's a nice informed decision you're making there. I hope you don't make all of your decisions based on speculation.

but to me being a kid going through a school killing your peers is something nobody should WANT to do...
Why did you post it if you realized that it was a double standard? So what you're saying is that you WANT to kill Germans in all of those WW2 FPS games? Why stop there? Why would anyone WANT to kill aliens, or demons, or robots? Did you think Postal [wikipedia.org] was sick when it came out? It is based on sensitive [wikipedia.org] events that occurred.

The "sensitive area" justification is often abused by people who are trying to limit free speech. How many times do we hear "Think of the children!" as justification for EVERYTHING?

Well, you find this game offensive and so you're happy it was removed from the festival.. Well, Jack Thompson finds many games offensive.. if we listened to him all the time, we wouldn't have some of the most popular games out there. The fact that they are so popular should tell you that there are large numbers of people who do not believe the same things you believe.

Taboo (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473966)

I guess it's a double standard to say that reliving WW2 in so many FPS games is the same idea, but to me being a kid going through a school killing your peers is something nobody should WANT to do...
Yes, it is a double standard because the reality is, being a kid going through a school killing your peers is something quite a lot of people would like to do.

There's a lot of posts in this thread about how this game is tasteless, has no merit, has only shock value. That no one would want to play it. Is that really tue? Think about it. There are people who think about doing this kind of thing everyday. So how is this game any more wrong than street racing simulations or computer generated pornography? What's the essential difference?

I tell you exactly what the difference is. Debate on Columbine is taboo.

Stray outside the accepted interpretation and you are "dishonoring the memories of The Children(TM) who died". Just ignore the fact that the average second level school is closer to The Lord of the Flies than normal society. Just ignore the millions of young people who waste their time day in day out in an institution they loathe. Just ignore the fact that the institution most closely resembling secondary schools is public prison. If you dare to highlight such things, you're "no better than the killers".

So, no; running through the corridors of Columbine High School killing your fellow students is not really much more morally repugnant than killing American or Chinese soldiers in BattleField 2, or launching nukes on cities in Civ 4. It's just more politically incorrect, because that is how the media have decided to treat it.

If Slamdance wants to follow the media/party line, that's their business. But they should stay off the moral highground when they do. That's for people with actual beliefs and integrity.

Re:I say "good" (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473986)

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but yours is by your own admission an uninformed opinion. You haven't played the game and you say that the article didn't give a very good overview of it and yet you can feel justified in opposing it?

This reminds me of the people who protested against Kevin Smith's film Dogma before it was even screened. I'm not comparing Dogma to this game, but in both cases people were against it without even knowing the details about it. Jack Thompson the anti-videogame lawyer filed a public nusance complaint against the game Bully and denounced it to anyone who would listen that the game was glorifying bullying and he hadn't played it either. There is certainly a big difference between saying that the game is bad and lobying for it to be outlawed, but the both situations start with an uninformed opinion.

Re:I say "good" (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474762)

I guess it's a double standard to say that reliving WW2 in so many FPS games is the same idea, but to me being a kid going through a school killing your peers is something nobody should WANT to do...

So who should want to go to war?

At least the Columbine shooters were killing people they personally hated. I think there's something far sicker about going about killing people you have no personal quarrel with, on the orders of politicians thousands of miles away...

Re:I say "good" (0, Flamebait)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474800)

From the game's site:

DESCRIPTION: This game delves into the morning of April 20th, 1999 and asks players to relive that day through the eyes of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, those responsible for the deadliest school shooting in American history. Preview pictures can be found below.

Yeah, you get to play 'the killers'. They feed you a lot of crap about them being instrumental in opening the eyes of the world, but it's just sick.

artists statement (4, Informative)

rednuhter (516649) | more than 7 years ago | (#17472948)

artists statement
http://www.columbinegame.com/statement.htm [columbinegame.com]

excert

  Somewhere between April 20th, 1999 and September 11th, 2001, America entered into a new, terrifying, and desperate era. Citizens can no longer afford to believe the necessary illusions of modern society. In an age when hastily-formed scapegoats and false dichotomies of "good" and "evil" run rampant, SCMRPG dares us into a realm of grey morality with nuanced perspectives of suffering, vengeance, horror, and reflection. In the words of Harris' friend Brooks Brown, there are "no easy answers" to such a socially indicting tragedy. As humanity teeters precariously on the threshold of collapse--politically, ideologically, and environmentally, the days of comatose media coverage and a subservient populace cannot remain. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, through their furious words and malevolent actions, can be understood as the canaries in the mine--foretelling of an "apocalypse soon" for those remaining to ponder their deeds. With 'Super Columbine Massacre RPG!,' I present to you one of the darkest days in modern history and ask, "Are we willing to look in the mirror?"

Re:artists statement (1)

brouski (827510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473186)

This subject has been discussed ad nauseum on /., but every time I read that page I gain more and more contempt for this "developer", and I hope that one day he seeks psychological help for his issues.

Re:artists statement (1)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473538)

What issues would those be?

The content on that page doesn't point to any classifiable mental illness. Maybe you would just like him to go to reeducation camp so he will only touch on things that you agree with.

Re:artists statement (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17474556)

So your answer is "no, I am not willing to look in the mirror."

No problem with that, but at least be honest about it.

Market Pressure == Censorship? (5, Insightful)

andphi (899406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473120)

FTA: Ledonne said that he bears no ill will toward the festival, but that the decision to pull the game does raise concerns about freedom of speech . . .

I'm confused. How is the decision by non-governmental entities that something is undeserving of their support or attention a threat to freedom speech?

The game developer did his talking when he made the game. If Congress was directly shutting him down, that would be a problem. Other people deciding that his game is in poor taste or too soon or just plain wrong, and taking their money with them when they leave, is perfectly normal and legal. There is no constitutional right to be heard, only to speak freely. The intended audience can blow the speaker off at will.

Re:Market Pressure == Censorship? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473514)

There is no constitutional right to be heard, only to speak freely.

Even that is debatable. The original text of the constitution was that "Congress shale make no law..."

That doesn't mean you have some inalienable right to run your sock. It means that the government has no right to shut you up. Society as a whole on the other hand, can largely do as the like to promote or bury your words. 200 years of case law have altered the exact interpretation of that line, and I am not a case law expert, but I agree with your general statement that the game getting dropped from a private sector competition is not a constitutional issue.

-Rick

Re:Market Pressure == Censorship? (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473848)

I disagree that it's censorship in the legal sense. But market pressure can cause "chilling effects", and it's disappointing when the market refuses to support indie artists just because they're afraid of complaints from the mob, most of whom don't even know what the game is trying to do.

Did any of these sponsors equally threaten Sundance financially when it aired/nominated Elephant or Zero Day?

Re:Market Pressure == Censorship? (1)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17475068)

I have to agree with the sentiment that this is not government affecting free speech.

My problem with this whole thing is that corporations and private interests have the ability to decide what speech is made widely available due to their economic influence. Everybody here was playing by the rules, so I'm not crying foul there.

But Slamdance courted columbin for this game to be entered. Not the other way around. Then, when the money was about to walk - Slamdance not only kicked the game out, but comprimised their own stance.

Either have the balls to stand for your convictions or don't state them at all. The whole festival is now suspect moving forward. Did all the entries this year get sponsor approval before evaluation? If so, how can I take you seriously if sponsor approval is now part of the criteria. Sponsors are usually non human corporate entities with profit as thier motivation.

Re:Market Pressure == Censorship? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17473746)

Freedom of speech is threatened by attitudes of the public. Censorship doesn't have to come from the government. Censorship can come from a society who stops believing in freedom of speech and pressures media and commercial outlets into censorship.

The government can either fight it, by educating the public on why freedom of speech is important, or they can condone it- as out government does, which creates a feedback loop that amplifies the societies intolerance for it.

Freedom of Speech needs to be treated like a minority. If someone gets pressured to censor something simply because its content is not politically correct, then it needs to be the same as discriminating based on color or race. If the government doesn't assign such value to ensuring our freedom, they should drop the pretense of a free country and take such nonsense out of the constitution.

Re:Market Pressure == Censorship? (1)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473804)

I agree fully and hate censorship being thrown around like that, but it does show what the general population's consensus is, and all these people get to vote.

Re:Market Pressure == Censorship? (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474022)

but it does show what the general population's consensus is, and all these people get to vote.

But did they? They never even got a chance to vote, because it got pulled from the ballot, essentially by PR departments. Isn't that short-circuiting the voting system, by allowing corporate interests to decide what candidates even get to be heard in the first place? I know it sounds hokey, but it's something to consider. If the population truly rejected the nomination, then it should have gotten to the vote, and lost miserably (granted it would have been judged by judges, not the masses, but still, should every Sundance submission be subject to popularity votes with the general public, or rather judged on artistic merit?)

Re:Market Pressure == Censorship? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17474058)

I'm confused. How is the decision by non-governmental entities that something is undeserving of their support or attention a threat to freedom speech?

Because the festival, where strange / challenging / non-mainstream titles are supposed to find voice, had to cut the title due to financial pressures from sponsors. Essentially, they were forced to either cancel the game's entry, or cancel the festival due to sponsorship withdrawl. That means that corporate interests get to decide what is shown to the public. Frequently this is the case anyway, but this is exactly the sort of situation an independent festival is supposed to prevent.

Threats to free speech don't just come from governmental organizations.

Re:Market Pressure == Censorship? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17474554)

You're confusing the first amendment, the right of free speech, the constituion, with the CONCEPT of freedom of speech.

The developer isn't concerned about the governament at all with his statements.

Freedom of speech is a good idea despite if it's written in a hundreds year old piece of paper or not.

Balancing the thin line (1)

Ozzeh (954692) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473124)

I think this game was rightfully taken out of the competition, it's just taking it a step too far. I'm a big supporter of freedom of speech, but people tend to abuse the term to justify about everything. What if I wanted to make a Hitler RPG, would that be freedom of speech?

Re:Balancing the thin line (1)

CheechWizz (886957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473308)

Yes.
If freedom of speech was easy, they'd use it everywhere.

Re:Balancing the thin line (2, Insightful)

mdozturk (973065) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473346)

What if I wanted to make a Hitler RPG, would that be freedom of speech?

Yes. There are tons of content (movies, songs, etc) that feature Hitler. Some even don't portray him as a monster [imdb.com]

Re:Balancing the thin line (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473380)

Depends.

The Columbine game did not glorify the violence that occured there, instead it does the opposite.

Would your Hitler RPG glorify him? Besides, isn't any WWII game in a way about Hitler too?

One question that the Columbine game raises is whether games can only have value as entertainment or whether it can be an art-form, able of dealing with non-entertaining subject matter. You seem to be thinking the former.

Re:Balancing the thin line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17473386)

Yes.

Re:Balancing the thin line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17473498)

What if I wanted to make a Hitler RPG, would that be freedom of speech?

Yes, any other questions?

Re:Balancing the thin line (2, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473672)

There's no real freedom of speech argument to be made here, because no one has stopped these guys from making the game, no law was passed to restrict or bury it, and no one has been arrested for being involved. The developers have been able to make their statement, and another group of individuals has decided that they don't want to help the developers spread that statement. Your freedom of speech does not require that I, or anyone else, or even the government help you spread your message. Only that the government cannot stop you from expressing that message yourself (with a few sensible exceptions).

Re:Balancing the thin line (2, Insightful)

Joe U (443617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474442)

I figured I would take the time to correct your statement.

The developers have been able to make their statement, and another group of individuals has decided that they don't want to help the developers spread that statement by threatening a third party financially to stop the game creators.

Putting it simply:

I don't like what you're doing.
I can't take action against you because I have no direct involvement with you.
I am, however, involved with someone who also is involved with you.
I pressure that third party to stop supporting you or I'll ruin the third party.

Now, lets come up with a hypothetical scenario:

I'm Intel, I don't like AMD.
I can't take action directly against AMD.
I can pressure Dell, by telling them Pentium chips will now cost twice their normal price if they continue using AMD.
Dell drops AMD.

Granted, it's not quite the same, but the point is made.

Back to the original case, there is a freedom of speech issue here, but it's not a first amendment issue. As you correctly pointed out, this doesn't involve the government.

Re:Balancing the thin line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17474036)

"What if I wanted to make a Hitler RPG, would that be freedom of speech?"

Look it up kid, I think you'll be surprised to find people have freedom to do many things here in America that you might find disgusting/repulsive/evil/etc....

Good for Slamdance (0, Flamebait)

visionsofmcskill (556169) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473170)

I know all our immediate reaction is to say "censorship!" and "oppression!", etc...

But the truth is, these guys have made a truly offensive game that is super deliberatly made to be offesnive/controversial... and/or heartless. Note that these descriptions are all my "feelings" / opinion... and therefor the government should have no place or right to ban such items... as that would be a transgression of free speech.

But that doesnt mean i have to listen to or play their game, and it doesnt mean slamdance has to admit their game or allow it in their contest.... and it also means slamdance can at their descretion change their minds on the admissibility or PR of a game.

If someone made a game called "nigger killer" that placed the gamer as a Klan leader... or Jew Burner where you follow the exciting role of a Nazi Furnace operator... guess what... chances are no matter how well developed that game was... 99% of people wouldnt want anything to do with them... and free/private gaming organizations would likely reflect those views by choosing not to entertain those games.

Its the devlopers free speech right to make the game, and thankfully its slamdances right to choose to axe it... and my right to choose to think slamdance did the right thing.

THAT is free speech and freedom.

Re:Good for Slamdance (1)

mdozturk (973065) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473518)

Its the devlopers free speech right to make the game, and thankfully its slamdances right to choose to axe it... and my right to choose to think slamdance did the right thing.

Cool. It seems like you understand where your rights end. Some people take another step and try to stop me from playing it.

Re:Good for Slamdance (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474976)

But the truth is, these guys have made a truly offensive game that is super deliberatly made to be offesnive/controversial.

More "truth" from someone who hasn't even tried the game.

How the hell do you know the truth when you haven't even experienced the truth? Why do you think it is OK to go around spouting off about things you have no understanding of? Sure its your right to make a fool of yourself, but in what warped universe is it personally a good thing for you to actually preach from ignorance? Is that how you make decisions about everything else in your life?

What's worse is that there is no reason for you not to have found out the truth yourself - the game is freely available from the author's website:

http://www.columbinegame.com/ [columbinegame.com]

Double Standards (2, Insightful)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473232)

I find it interesting that when a hyper violent game was made to poke fun at Jack Thompson, it was widely applauded here on Slashdot despite begind grotesquely violent and rather lacking in artistic merit. Meanwhile, someone else's attempt to confront us with the horrible but murky truth of Columbine is labeled as "just sick" and "going too far".

I wonder how many of us here played either game.

Re:Double Standards (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473666)

The Jack Thompson game was purely fictional.

This is a recreation of actual events.

Re:Double Standards (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474208)


Meanwhile, someone else's attempt to confront us with the horrible but murky truth of Columbine is labeled as "just sick" and "going too far".

Ha! The thing is it's not a very good game, and nowhere did I see it "confront us with the horribly but murky truth of Columbine". It was a poorly conceived game that has no real redeeming artistic, entertaining, or social value. Maybe if it was better made it could have somehow done those things, but IMO it fell completely short.

I wonder how many of us here played either game.

Obviously from my comments I did. I think the only redeeming value of the game is it shows how afraid of a dumb game some people are. Are people really afraid that kids are going to turn into the Columbine assholes just because of a game?

Re:Double Standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17474392)

The point is, a game about Jack Thompson is pure fantasy and therefore acceptable. A game based off of a historic event, where you commit the atrocity(ies), is not acceptable. /NT

Sound business decision (1)

Atheose (932144) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473302)

The festival felt that it would offend more people than it interested, and would push away more visitors than it would attract. This is a private game festival making a sound business decision about one of the entries. It has nothing to do with free speech.

Re:Sound business decision (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473824)

You're right about it being a business decision, but it is ironic that the very thing which contributed siginificantly to those killings (social alienation) is then used again on the game about those killings.

Emulation (1)

Saburo (1047298) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473358)

I personally agree with the fact that it may not be "tasteful", but that may be only something personal, cultural.. whatever. The real point, I think, is that a responsible "adult" behaviour could be just to "reject" the idea of impersonating one of the two kids. But the opposite reaction, indeed not responsible and not "adult", could be to "give emulation a try. I know it is probably a very remote (and sick) chance, but still I think it could be extremely dangerous, no? "Weak" minds may sometimes confuse reality with games and it is unfortunately too easy (and Columbine really teaches this) to get our hands on a real weapon. Finally, I do not completely agree with the comparison with violent movies (which I do not like either), as in games, even if only virtually, you pull the trigger yourself.

Re:Emulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17474776)

The game itself extremely stresses what the repercussions of their actions at Columbine... ... if anything, it ought to dissuade people from doing it.

Games (1)

Ravengbc (1013269) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473444)

I am not a huge gamer, but I do play some. Even violent games. I am not one to think that violent games are the cause of violent actions in kids. I think that the games can potentially add some fuel to violent actions in kids, but I think the root cause is f***ed up parenting. With that said, the thought of a game based off of that tragic event at Columbine is a gut turning, sickening thought. Who in their right mind would want to play it? Chances are, and I may be jumping to conclusions here, the only people who would want to play it are people who are already messed up in the head and not far off from doing something similar. Sure, there are a lot of WWII games out there, and seems like more and more are coming out. There are also a good bit of Vietnam games out there. The difference between the WWII and 'Nam games vs. the Columbine game is that the WWII games especially, and the 'Nam games to a degree, are based off of tragic wars in our history that had a very significant meaning to them. I say this more so for the WWII games. The Columbine game, on the other hand, is a bad attempt to make money off of a tragedy. There are not many things that I take a strong stance against. But that game would be one of them. I took major insult at the true event, even though I live in the Southeastern US. I have been one to wear a trench coat for some time now, not because of the 'trench coat mofia' but because I like the style, yet, I still got criticized for wearing a trench coat. I still get odd looks to this day when I walk into a public place during the winter, because I usually tend to wear all black and one of two black trench coats. Again, not because of anything other then the fact that that is what I prefer to wear. There are two things that usually get people to lighten up a little- they see the Cross and Crucifix I wear openly to show my faith in God and Jesus, or they actually talk to me and find out I'm a pretty nice guy. If these game makers were able to release this pathetic attempt at a game, I would join in with Christians, and others to protest it. I don't see how any good can come from a game like that. Bad taste on their part.

WTF? (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473512)

I want to know how a shitty RPG maker based game even got to the finals, it looks terrible and I doubt it plays any better.

Super Columbine Massacre RPG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17473548)

Was there a need for the exclamation mark at the end? Makes it look like: "Super Hyper Fun Fun Happy Columbine Massacre RPG!!"

Re:Super Columbine Massacre RPG! (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473910)

Was there a need for the exclamation mark at the end? Makes it look like: "Super Hyper Fun Fun Happy Columbine Massacre RPG!!"

That's the point. It's poking fun at the fact that game titles hype up violence. It also pokes fun at the fact that some people are unwilling to get beyond the title to serious look at the game, essentially judging the book by it's cover...

whatever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17473692)

...no, it's not really an issue of free speech, nor is it an issue of censorship. It is an issue of cowardice. If the game was good enough to make it into the competition and place in the finals, taking it down because a bunch of people are "offended" by the content doesn't really seem like a good reason to remove it. Generally, if something offends you personally, the thing one does is respects the other person's right to be a jackass and go about your business. Instead, pressure has been exerted upon a private forum to change their "offensive" behavior. If someone had formed a group to ban rock music that was deemed offensive, and pressured companies to stop making the product they found to be distasteful, this forum would be full of angry listeners decrying the music companies in question for cowing to a bunch of whiny ingrates.[oh, right. somebody DID do that already.] Why have a sacred cow? Because we looooove the children. Of course we do. We love them so much that we don't look at the underlying problems that created the situation we find so horrifying, we simply ban videogames that offend our sensibilities. I have no particular love for the perpitrators of the Columbine massacre, nor have i any specific spite for the victims. i don't really enjoy violent video games, nor do i think this game has much to say about the why and how of the tragic event,[that is, it isn't making a "statement" other than "hey look how offensive we can be"] but i don't think that backpedaling in the face of whiny mothers with too little to do is a noble thing. If the game was offensive, it should have never been allowed into the competition, but it was, which means that the judges didn't find it offensive until someone told them that they should. That is bullying, and it is less than admirable to cower in the face of bullies, even if they claim some moral authority that may or may not exist.

Re:whatever... (1)

Thraxen (455388) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473806)

Meh... as others have said it was a sound business decision and has nothin to do with cowardice. Music labels drop bands everyday for lots of different reasons, or simply never sign them, and no one cares.

Re:whatever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17474754)

however, those reasons generally are not "because a bunch of people whined at us." and as far as not getting signed, that's not what happened here, the festival "courted the developer" as the article says, which means they KNEW DAMN WELL that this game wasn't really a good idea, but grabbed it to be "edgy." All i'm saying is, if you're gonna be "edgy," stick with your guns, otherwise you look like a chump when you have to backpedal out of the mess you CHOSE TO MAKE. You're right, lots of bands get dropped every day, but rarely is that because someone has told the record company that those bands are offensive, more often it is because those bands don't make money. Economic rationale are usually based on actual market forces, not someone's feel-good-about-pretending-to-care-false-empathy-B S.

Is PTFG a proper acronym? (3, Insightful)

gregtron (1009171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473862)

The major problem I've encountered with the replies above is that no one seems to have actually played the game before labelling it as an afront to morality.

I found it to be insightful, in the least, and at points disturbing. It didn't glorify the actions of anyone, but went great lengths to take information that most people have become jaded to, and present it in a light that inspires us to avoid the sort of finger-pointing that wrongly accused Marilyn Manson and ID Software of corrupting our youth.

If we can't use certain media to portray catastrophic events in a way that helps us gain better understanding of why we do the things we do, then what good are they? This type of thinking reduces video games to neat electronic parlour tricks, not the viable form of entertainment and and education that it could be.

Re:Is PTFG a proper acronym? (1)

bateleur (814657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474224)

Well to start with, if the game maker wanted to make a serious point he could have chosen a better title. I haven't played the game, but I have a lot of sympathy for the idea that Slamdance needed to do something simply because of the impression the title gives.

Re:Is PTFG a proper acronym? (1)

gregtron (1009171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474438)

It seems like giving the game a properly distressing title would've cheapened the overall effect. Like I said, PTFG.

How Ironic (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473976)

Slamdance was created partly as a response to Sundance, when a lot of people felt that they couldn't get their films into Sundance because they were too edgy.

This was caused by the growth of the Sundance Film Festival, and no doubt influenced by their acceptance of donations from large sponsors.

Now Slamdance is rejecting a piece because it's too edgy, and their sponsors are putting pressure on them. So much for the "independent" scene.

Re:How Ironic (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 7 years ago | (#17474804)

More irony, people are complaining that the game is called "Super Columbine Massacre."

No one is complaining that the festival is called Slamdance [answers.com] .

Not that they should be complaining about either one, but the name of the festival is just as offensive and irreverant as the name of the game.

RPGMaker 2000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17475004)

Does anyone know if he is using a licensed version of RPGmaker2000?
I doubt it since it never came out in the US, unless the creator can read japanese.

Concerns about freedom of speech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17475228)

Did the government suppress this game? Sounds like a private entity doing it within the confines of their own contest, so it's hardly suppression of free speech. This has got to be one of the most misused terms ever.

I've actually played this game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17475338)

As someone who has actually played this game, as opposed to everyone else who seems to have posted so far. I can say this game should definitely be considered. It spends a lot of time exploring what happened the morning of the shooting, before they got to the school. In their houses, in the park, in the parking lot. I admit I didn't finish the game, I got distracted and moved on right before going upstairs in the school, but from what I saw, killing people was actually rather secondary and only there because it is a necessary element. Every bit of this game seemed to be focused on understanding the abuse, the hatred and the personality of the killers, whether fictionalized or not I can't say.

Sorry, I'm at work so I can't actually login right now.
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