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What We Owe the Columbine RPG

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the games-as-art-as-games dept.

Games 66

Gamaustra's Soapbox this week touches on the lessons learned from Slamgate and the Super Columbine Massacre RPG!. Author Patrick Dugan explores the ways in which SCMRPG challenged the media and gamers alike to think about what the medium of games is all about. Covered by everyone from Newsweek to Game Informer, it opened the eyes of non-gamers to the possibilities of the format and forced gamers to rethink their assumptions. "Game Informer's benchmark of game-specialized print journalism may very well inspire other major publications to follow suit with their own coverage, and in the capacity of Game Informer's readership, paints a symbol of solidarity. The twelve year old kid who thinks Gears of War is the best thing going can take a look at these graphics, popular before his birth, and get a sense that his beloved past-time is part of something greater, something he can defend to non-gamers as being inherently valuable." This issue is also explored in the final part of N'Gai Croal's interview with Jamil Moledina, which we talked about last week.

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66 comments

"Nothing to see here", or is it? (-1, Offtopic)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334305)

The first time I clicked on this I got the following. Makes a change from the normal "Nothing to see here" that new stories get.

404 File Not Found
The requested URL (games/07/03/13/1616214.shtml) was not found.
If you feel like it, mail the url, and where ya came from to pater@slashdot.org.

Re:"Nothing to see here", or is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18335709)

I get that about once a week

never emailed pater

Controversy for controversy's sake. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18335885)

There can't have been much to see here; it's a waste of time.

The only reason to make a Columbine game would be to stir controversy. Yes, it's true--games can be a medium for whatever sort of story people want. Just as anime shows that "comics" can be used to tell any story people want. As we know, they range from serious literary works down to slapstick and porn (and sometimes, combinations thereof). Games are the same; the only question is whether someone wants to make such things into games. I mean, I think that Planescape: Torment probably qualifies as a literary work in its own right, for example.

But I honestly don't think a Columbine RPG has anything to do with that. I think it's mere attention whoring. And I really, really hate attention whores. You can debate the question "Is it art?" But I say, "Who cares!" No matter whether it is or isn't art, neither case requires that I (or anyone else) like it or respect it. And neither do I have to like or respect the one who created it.

Maybe gross-out contests like this were fun when I was 5, but I really wish these tools would grow up a little. As it stands, I wouldn't deign to give their game the time of day.

Stay Tuned for my New Game - "Subjugation!" (1, Insightful)

Petersko (564140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334395)

"Welcome to the new online gaming sensation, "Subjugation!" As leader of a team of unsullied white merchants, you will work to maintain the status quo on your plantations. By utilizing tools as whippings and the occasional draw-and-quarter, you will strive to keep your cotton production up, and your workers underfoot. Be the first in your virtual area to stomp down on the evil menace of literacy! Design your transit system with appropriate "back-of-the-bus" rules! And how will you respond when you catch your daughter with a worker? Only you will know!"

Now I could claim that such a game is "art", but is it really? Maybe, maybe not. Personally I think shock for its own sake isn't enough. Would the game be a success if it didn't have the name Columbine stuffed in the title? If not, then I would submit it's riding shock value alone.

Re:Stay Tuned for my New Game - "Subjugation!" (4, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335725)

I can tell you didn't actually play the Columbine RPG. The game was packed with enough info to make a Biography for both of the boys, not to mention exploration into what made them do what they do and why they felt the way they did. It was pretty interesting for someone who got tired of the original media frenzy pretty quickly and tuned out.

Re:Stay Tuned for my New Game - "Subjugation!" (4, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335961)

Well, Im played the game and I will tell you it doesn't have the effect most people think. It still keeps a sence of morality, senclessness of the ordeal and ends with a poetic justice.

I does present what was going on in the minds of the killers but it doesn't justfy it. It shows them with their feelings hurt but doesn't gain sympathy for them. It makes them look like a couple crying punks. You start buy trying to sneek in and plant some bombs. Then after they fail to go off, you just kill people going from room to room untill you look out a library window. The killing quickly becomes borring and you think there is a point to it but later get let down hard. Then it asks you if you want to goto the next level. If you do, one of the boys kill the other and then kills themself. It shows them lifeless, bloody, and leaves you with the distinct vision of death isn't a do over.

After all that, you proceed to what appears to be hell with doom like charectors comming after you. You lost most your weapons that made you so incincable in the real world and now suffer death quite often. I have played it many times and you quickly get to a point were it is too hard to go any further unless you run around like a scared little bitch but it doesn't help. There doesn't seem to be a way out of hell!

Now, I'm sure it will leave different impresions on different people. But my impresion is that it show how stupid killing everyone was. How dumb killing your self was, and in the end, how it hurt you just as much as everyone else.

I suggest everyone play it.

Re:Stay Tuned for my New Game - "Subjugation!" (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#18348001)

The part in hell (did you see the island of lost souls? I'm guessing not) is interesting. If you don't basically clean out the school (which is a level grind, no doubt about it), you'll get your butt kicked in hell. But if you do kill most of the students in the school you will be able to hold your own against the demons in hell (I guess it makes you evil enough) and eventually you'll talk to some of the dead philosophers and thinkers that the boys agreed with. Eventually you even fight the devil himself (played by Satan from South Park) and if you win you get a bird to fly around hell with.

However, because it is Hell, you can never escape. Death is final.

Re:Stay Tuned for my New Game - "Subjugation!" (1)

shoor (33382) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335761)

Actually, Ithink you may be on to something. I didn't RTF but the idea of putting people into a
historical situation of one group abusing another group might have some merit. Something that
smacks of the Milgram Experiment. The question is, would it harden people into becoming dominators
or make them more acutely aware to the manipulations of the power elite on them?

sounds good (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18336063)

SimPlantation, I'd play it.

If you've played X:Total War you've already commanded slave soldiers.

Re:Stay Tuned for my New Game - "Subjugation!" (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18337837)

Design your transit system with appropriate "back-of-the-bus" rules!

Buses? In my Colonial Times?

Apparently, it's more likely than I think.

Get over yourself (0)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334427)

If you have to try that hard to 'explain' something then it's clearly not the population at large that dont get it, someone is just reading way too much into their play time.

I have to agree with you (3, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334847)

In my younger days I volunteerd at a local television station as a cameraman. It was fun to do, going out to events and make reports. Part of it was to report on art events, local stuff so for instance the art students giving a show. God what a load of crap that was.

Being a cameraman is a great way to see things without actually having to show any interest. You get into places you normally never would go into and can "stare" as much as you want without anybody coming up to you and asking for an opinion.

What struck me most was how disconnected these people were from real life, taking their art WAY to seriously. You can use your art to send a message but if you think a piece of performance art is going to chance the world you need to get out more.

This game is a game that uses an event for shock value. Using such stuff is an easy way to rouse emotions. It is simple really, if I need to show that someone is baddy I have them kill someone, a male if they are just a little bit bad, blonde female if they are bad and a brunette if they are truly evil. You do NOT kill redheads.

So a lot of movies use this trick because it is the easiest way of showing that the baddie is the bad guy. You could use story elements to show that, but hey, that takes time and the audience has a 5 second attention span.

Therefore I don't consider this game to be art, it is a simple exploitation game, perhaps a new angle for games but we already know it all to well from the movies.

It is a simple formula, examine what is keep society busy, use that as your maintheme and make sure to emphasize the controversy as much as possible.Is that art? Well perhaps but that don't make it special.

This game is nothing more then any of those movies with taglines like "too shocking for tv", "the story they didn't want you to see", etc etc.

Am I saying games should NOT use subjects such as this? Not at all, go righ ahead and make all the exploitation games you want, it is not new. Remember GTA Hot Coffee? Tell me that is not a black exploitation game.

Just don't expect me to give you any special credit. All games are art in the same that movies and books and painting and photos and etc etc are art. They are somebodies form of expresion and you get to experience it.

But using shock value doesn't make it any better.

If you have not been moved by a single game before this game I would suggest you have either been playing the wrong games OR lack empathic capabilities.

On the other hand, I am increasingly worried that games are dumbing down to satisfy puritans. NWN2 and its lack of the chainmail bikini is an excellent example. I don't mind exploitation movies and I don't mind PG movies made by disney, but there should be a nice middle ground were adults can simple play games made for adults and not constantly have to worry that some 12 yr old might see a nipple. Or god forbid a Wii.

Re:I have to agree with you (1)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335061)

Very insightful Post. Thank you.

  as to this phrase "You could use story elements to show that, but hey, that takes time and the audience has a 5 second attention span." all I have to say is..

{opens browser to new page...}

Re:I have to agree with you (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18335197)

So a lot of movies use this trick because it is the easiest way of showing that the baddie is the bad guy

A lot of everybody uses the trick. A lot of the people who use the trick take it to the next level, demonization. They go out of their way to make sure that the bad guy is as disgusting and bad as possible, not only does he murder people, he's a drug dealer, child rapist, and a jaywalker. God forbid someone ever get just that nagging feeling that the "bad guy" isn't really bad at all, perhaps he's been thrust into events that he no longer has control over. Maybe they're just afraid that if there's even a tiny little sliver of good left in the bad guy, someone will accuse them of ripping off Mary Shelley.

Or maybe they just can't write about people who do bad things without them being vile monsters.

Remember GTA Hot Coffee? Tell me that is not a black exploitation game.

The first game in the series that ever had a black lead, and suddenly GTA is blaxploitation? What were the other GTA's? Whixploitation?

Re:I have to agree with you (2, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335635)

> NWN2 and its lack of the chainmail bikini is an excellent example.

Not using the same idiotic juvenile cliche that's been in virtually every other CRPG is hardly the apogee of puritanism.

It is annoying though that the unarmored models in most CRPG's always has some kind of underwear. I always wanted to play one of my favorite D&D characters (under some custom rules), namely a barbarian character that wore woad. And nothing but.

Re:I have to agree with you (1)

Yuan-Lung (582630) | more than 7 years ago | (#18337405)

It is annoying though that the unarmored models in most CRPG's always has some kind of underwear. I always wanted to play one of my favorite D&D characters (under some custom rules), namely a barbarian character that wore woad. And nothing but.


Maybe you are looking for this [ign.com]?

A new record? (1)

pi_rules (123171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334535)

Gamaustra's/blockquote.

Four whole letters before an editor mistake.

I think we have a new Slashdot record!

Look at me! Look at me! I'm famous! (1, Troll)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334561)

Ugh... The Gamasutra article starts with a quote, apparently from the creator of this game, claiming to be the world's second most famous game designer, and gets worse, spiraling into a narcissistic look-at-me diatribe about what an important cultural phenom this "work" is.

Nothing but a self-aggrandizing piece of tripe. Sorry, but I wasn't even able to make it to pages 2 and 3. Someone else will have to read the rest of the article. I can't believe this was actually published on Gamasutra. The interview was no less irritating. "The Artist's Way"? Gag.

Did I just wake up grumpy today, or is the article really that annoying? Bah... Get off my lawn!

Re:Look at me! Look at me! I'm famous! (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335271)

Well he is the world's most famous game designer, the first is of course...Derek Smart.

Oh wait that's infamous aint it?

Re:Look at me! Look at me! I'm famous! (1)

AlwaysHappy (951252) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335857)

From TFA:

"It's weird being a "celebrity;" I get autograph requests and death threats... all for an 8-bit videogame."

-Danny Ledonne, possibly the second most famous game creator on Earth.
The end portion, "-Danny Ledonne, possibly the second most famous game creator on Earth." is not a part of the original quote, it is the place where the quote is attributed to somebody. It is the author of the article who wrote it, not Ledonne.

Re:Look at me! Look at me! I'm famous! (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18338229)

Thanks for the clarification - I stand corrected.

Still - assigning that moniker to Ledonne is the height of chutzpah, when there are so many talented game creators out there who just quietly make great products for everyone to enjoy. I'm a professional game developer, and so maybe it irks me more than most, but I've never heard of this game or the creator before. It's just that the author is using Gamasutra as a soapbox for self-promotion, oh-so-cleverly masked by promotion of his "discovery" by proxy and his claim of high art, and that's irritating to me.

I'd better be careful before I get modded -1 Troll again. Sheesh.

No, just another case of Gamasutra slide... (1)

gmezero (4448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18336547)

The ratio of crap to good articles IMHO has become alarming of late and I've really started to loose respect for the staff given their poor editorial decisions. It's a shame really.

Re:No, just another case of Gamasutra slide... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18336815)

loose, huh?

Re:No, just another case of Gamasutra slide... (1)

gmezero (4448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18336933)

Yeah! Loose :) damn it, I need a better spell checker that knows what I'm intending to write, not what I wrote.

Pathetic. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334565)

"The twelve year old kid who thinks Gears of War is the best thing going can take a look at these graphics, popular before his birth, and get a sense that his beloved past-time is part of something greater, something he can defend to non-gamers as being inherently valuable."

Inherently valuable? What does the game media provide to this story that a book, movie, or news report does not? Nothing, except the ability to become numbed by it.

"When it came time to pull the trigger, she felt demonstrable remorse for the act, but then wondered if she'd feel the same the second time.

The repetition lessoned the humanity of the action, until she reported feeling like she wasn't killing people but simply scoring points in a game. Eventually she got bored, went to the library, and "ended" the game. "

Yes, she got so numb that killing people bored her. Oh yeah, way to go!

No, this game would have just disappeared if not for having been dropped from the contest.

Re:Pathetic. (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334685)

Hey, we could end all violence in the world if we just let everyone kill whoever they wanted to at any time. Eventually, everyone would get bored of killing and go to the library. Well, if they could make their way over the piles of rotting corpses in the streets.

Re:Pathetic. (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334799)

If you read wikipedia's description [wikipedia.org] of the shootings it sounds like even Eric and Dylan got tired of shooting people. "At this point, several witnesses heard Harris and Klebold comment on how they no longer found a thrill in shooting their victims."

Re:Pathetic. (2, Informative)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335527)

"The repetition lessoned the humanity of the action, until she reported feeling like she wasn't killing people but simply scoring points in a game. Eventually she got bored, went to the library, and "ended" the game. "

"Yes, she got so numb that killing people bored her. Oh yeah, way to go!"

What's your problem with that? Isn't it a Good Thing that the murders in Super Columbine Massacre aren't portrayed as fun, the way murder is in every other computer game out there? I suppose you prefer games where you're rewarded for killing people.

Not only that, but this is actually a good demonstration of the mindset of the Columbine killers themselves. Don't believe me? It's actually true that after the last shooting in the Columbine massacre, that of Corey DePooter, Harris and Klebold were overheard complaining that killing people didn't give them a thrill anymore. The gamer in your quote is going through the same thing. Your complaint is actually a tribute to how EFFECTIVE this game is, at making murder suck, while the Grand Theft Autos and all those Rainbow Six Death Squad simulations and military flight simulators are in the business of making murder fun...

Super Columbine Massacre RPG is one of the few games that is actually saying something ABOUT violence and what violence is, as opposed to merely mentioning it...

Re:Pathetic. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18336149)

I think this is a point if the game. It shows how pointless killing people like this is. And after all the killing? yo goto th libvrary to end the game but it doesn't stop there. It shows you how they ended the real game. Then it puts you in a position that you cannot win from. can someone say hell?

Oh oh oh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18334637)

What next? Super Beslan Massacre? Maxis Simsuicide-Bomber 2001?

Re:Oh oh oh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18335153)

better, Hiroshima!

Re:Oh oh oh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18337655)

Not just Hiroshima... Ultra-Hiroshima 19XX!!!

Re:Oh oh oh! (3, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335403)

As for the latter, likely so when the terrorist fad passes. Look at previous "cowardly tactics" that likely have games which focus on them prior to their acceptance as legitimate tactics:

Musketry (Late middle ages)
Cannons (Later middle ages)
Landmines (sometime around here)
Guerilla warfare (revolutionary war)
Remote artillery fire (Late 19th century)
Machine guns (Early 20th century)
Air strikes (World War 2)

I'm sure if you went to a British noble in 1780 and suggested that eventually his descendants would be roleplaying soldiers hiding in alcoves and ambushing the enemy, he would be appalled at what you were doing to the gentlemanly pursuit of war.

Re:Oh oh oh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18335891)

I'm sure if you went to a British noble in 1780 and suggested that eventually his descendants would be roleplaying soldiers hiding in alcoves and ambushing the enemy, he would be appalled at what you were doing to the gentlemanly pursuit of war.

This coming from people who built castles with tiny little slits for archers to fire down on people? The noble would have thought it was a perfectly good idea and proceeded to build tiny little cylindrical mini-forts with slits all around to shoot at any passing army. You probably should explain to him that in the future, one person will be able to shoot thousands of arrows at once, otherwise the opposing army would just overrun their little fortification and break in the back door.

Re:Oh oh oh! (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18336233)

Interesting that you pointed that out. I just realized the British lined warfare of the American Revolution was actually already a "dishonorable tactic" previously -- Oda Nobunaga introduced this to the Takeda cavalry by alternating his troops' firing and loading in an "mg hax!" moment.

Re:Oh oh oh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18346731)

Firstly, most of the methods you mention were never regarded as cowardly, rather they were enthusiastically used by all the armies at the time. In particular, the British never referred to the American tactics as "cowardly", but rather they regarded all Americans as cowardly.

Secondly, this is hardly one-way progression:

Machine Guns, Musktery: allowed, but most of the really useful types of bullets are banned.

Guerilla warfare: need for world acceptance often regulates what used to be completely unrestricted warfare.

Landmines: Haven't you heard of the Ottawa Treaty [wikipedia.org]?

Airwar: allowed, but wholesale bombing of civillians as in WW2 will get you into trouble.

We ow it NOTHING (0, Troll)

The Orange Mage (1057436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335113)

Since when did making a "game" using RPG Maker 2000 allow you to be famous? If anything, the game shouldn't have become popular because that program is so terrible, as are the games it is capable of making. This is as much of a game as those old terrible AOL Userpages (made using a drag-n-drop interface circa 1997) were web sites.

In Poor Taste... (4, Insightful)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335181)

It's worth remembering some of the other things humanity's put out in poor taste...

In 1612, there was the righteous outrage at questioning whether God's creation, the Earth, was truly the center of the universe. This was much worse than poor taste or glorifying killing... This was going against God's will and outright seeking damnation. To quote from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], "In 1614, from the pulpit of Santa Maria Novella, Father Tommaso Caccini (1574-1648) denounced Galileo's opinions on the motion of the Earth, judging them dangerous and close to heresy."

Also in poor taste, a self absorbed director made a movie that was little more than a pretext for ridiculing the life of one of America's most influential people - William Randolph Hearst. There was a massive media backlash against it, the film was a failure in the box office and it pretty much destroyed the career of the director. SCMRPG has nothing on the backlash against this "poor taste" project that tried to pass itself off as art. Of course, today we know it as Citizen Kane, arguably the greatest movie ever made.

Then there was the disgusting picture of Kim Phuc Phan Thi, a burned, naked child in Vietnam. How on earth could we ever describe a picture showing a child burned by napalm as anything other than in poor taste and utterly without merit on artistic grounds? In this case, it went on to be one of the most powerful photographs of the 20th century. wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

Time and again, we dismiss anything that makes us uncomfortable. Apparent attacks on powerful people, pictures of burning children, questions about our world's place in the universe. All of these have made us uncomfortable. All of these have been condemned as being in poor taste. It's usually only with the benefit of detachment that we realise that very discomfort they cause is where their value lies.

SCMRPG may be a lousy game. It may have many elements of terribly poor taste to it. But, if it makes us think and question even a little - be it about the massacre, how the massacre has been portrayed in the media, or even what we consider acceptable in an emerging media - then it has value. It's that kernel of value, even if in terribly poor taste, that the founding fathers recognized as so utterly important that they protected it in the first ammendment.

Ideas don't have to be good. They don't have to be well phrased. They don't have to perfectly encapsulate the idea. They simply have to be free to exist, to be judged for their own merits, for us to have a society raised up by daring to think rather than held back by censorship of anything that the majority doesn't find acceptable from their first gut reaction.

Re:In Poor Taste... (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335547)

If Citizen Kane was filmed in a garage with a cast entirely under the age of 16 whining about how their mom is suppressing their artistic style, then maybe it would have some parallel to the Columbine game. If someone made a flash game where you got to napalm a bunch of Kim Phuc Phan This, that might also be in the same league.

Making a bad game in poor taste then demanding the world respect you for only that might be a sort of performance art, but it doesn't give the game any merit.

Re:In Poor Taste... (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#18351299)

If Citizen Kane was filmed in [a garage] with a [cast entirely under the age of 16] whining about how [their mom] is suppressing their artistic style, then maybe it would have some parallel to the Columbine game.

Citizen Kane was filmed in [RKO's lot] with a [director who was the equivalent of a 16 year old*] whining** about how [the media**/RKO execs***] was suppressing their artistic style.

*Filming took place between June 29 and October 23, 1940. Welles, born on May 6, 1915, had barely turned 25. For the film industry, this is exactly the equivalent of a precocious 16 year old. That said, it's worth noting that, while I can't find an age for Danny Ledonne, it certainly appears he was older than 16 when he made the game.

**Welles' career suffered a crippling blow with the box-office failure of Kane, and he spent the rest of his life struggling to make films on his own terms. He lived long enough to see his debut film acknowledged as a classic, and late in life he famously remarked that he'd started at the top and spent the rest of his life working his way down. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_kane#Aftermat h [wikipedia.org]

***Much of the media at the time was owned by William Randolph Hearst. Because the movie was perceived as attacking his mistress, he directed his outlets to attack it.

****Welles prevented studio executives of RKO from visiting the set. He understood their desire to control projects and he knew they were expecting him to do an exciting film that would correspond to his The War of the Worlds radio broadcast. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_kane#Producti on [wikipedia.org]

So, in short: Precocious kid with no track record in the specific media makes a product that many people hate and then spends the rest of their lives talking about how they made a great example of the art form despite barely being able to work int he field again and how that's all the result of malicious people who just don't get it.

Re:In Poor Taste... (1)

gmezero (4448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18336699)

But to counter one of your examples, I don't think the photographer of that Vietnamese kid when around whoring his picture to everyone that it was the best picture ever and deserving of high-art consideration.

Re:In Poor Taste... (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 7 years ago | (#18342509)

Get a sense of proportion. This is an attention-whoring indie video game. Kernel of truth? It's the equivalent of writing "fuck" on the wall. The video game equivalent of porn - it's offensive, and appeals to nothing more than the purient interests. You compare it to the Western Canon, it's hilarious!

While I don't think it should be censored, big deal if it it. The only relevance is what it says about the US as a whole - its capacity for letting offensive juvenile shit to get a free pass, in the service of encouraging a more open culture.

Re:In Poor Taste... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18343399)

Quoting from Wikipedia: "He [Galileo] revived his project of writing a book on the subject, encouraged by the election of Cardinal Barberini as Pope Urban VIII in 1623. Barberini was a friend and admirer of Galileo, and had opposed the condemnation of Galileo in 1616. The book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was published in 1632, with formal authorization from the Inquisition and papal permission."

Re:In Poor Taste... (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#18344817)

Making the game wasn't the statement. Killing their classmates was the statement. That game just forces people to see it as such.

High school violence was largely ignored prior to Columbine. When I was a kid, jocks roughed up nerds all the time. It was a way of life. Most nerds never fought back.

Columbine should have forced teachers to address the issues that make people feel the need to shoot each other. Why were jocks allowed to torment? Why did they feel that the only answer was to shoot? Instead, it just made things worse. Now a jock can beat a kid and say the kid threatened him. Instant expulsion.

Personally, I wish that they had taken the time to address the media. I wish they would have communicated that jock X tormented them and teacher Y had ignored that. I wish they would have actually been able to shoot the jocks and teachers they had a grudge against.

When Columbine came on CNN, I was at work. I remember saying, out loud, that I believe they were right. The USian way has relied on superior force to intimidate an enemy for a long time. Unfortunately for the kids, MAD never ends well.

On a darker side note, how come they didn't kill more people? I always laugh when I hear about a madman with guns in an office taking out like 3 people and injuring 10 more. Anyone worth shooting is worth shooting again. How can two kids with guns walk into a school and only kill 12 people? Were they too stoned to shoot straight?

Re:In Poor Taste... (1)

VagueX (1047440) | more than 7 years ago | (#18347377)

(Sees the American flag waiving behind nick_davison while the national anthem is playing) I don't think anyone is arguing that he shouldn't be able create and show it. I think he's just another person that is capitalizing on a tragic event and the suffering of other people. The only difference in this case is the form he's presenting it under, i.e., a game. From playing it and reading what he says, I don't see any "hihger value" shining through. He's just an opertunist, one of many. A comparison of this to Citizen Kane is absurd. A better comparison is O.J. Simpson's "If I Had Done It." He has the right to create it, I have the right to condem him for it. Actions have consequences and he is deserving of most of the backlash he's getting. What did he expect?

Re:In Poor Taste... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18348229)

"The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses.
They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown."

P.S. While SCMRPM perhaps "makes us think and question even a little [about the massacre]", it isn't because of the game's merit, but rather in spite of it. It gives its own take on the massacre, and mocks all others (the recorded speeches). That's not thinking, that's preaching.

Missed the point (3, Insightful)

omnilynx (961400) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335267)

The article pretty much missed the point, here. First of all, the game was crappy. Horrible graphics, even for 'retro', a story that managed to be both simplistic and nonsensical, and bad gameplay. It was worthless as a game or art. However, it showed that games are a form of free speech, as well. Games are limited and lambasted in a way that other media would be shocked at. Far more depraved, gratuitously explicit stuff is shown every day on TV and in theaters than all but the most mature games, but games receive a lion's share of the blame for real-life violence and degeneracy. This game is a first strike back at that. And I like that trend, despite my contempt for the game itself. It's time for games to treat real subjects in a mature manner (by mature here I mean in depth, not necessarily in explicitness).

Re:Missed the point (1)

gmezero (4448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18336751)

Right, but it really needs to be a better game if it's going to carry that burden. I mean, this is like if I took a picture of a pile of human feces on the ground and called it "Columbine Fight or Flight", and touted it as a statement about the visceral fear inherent to the crises... it might be art. But it still a photo of a pile of shit.

Re:Missed the point (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18337105)

Games are limited and lambasted in a way that other media would be shocked at. Far more depraved, gratuitously explicit stuff is shown every day on TV and in theaters than all but the most mature games, but games receive a lion's share of the blame for real-life violence and degeneracy.

The typical movie runs ninety minutes and is seen from both a physical and psychological distance.

The movies, like all theater, began as a social experience, not a solo viewing. That is not irrelevant when you are trying to assess the impact at "Psycho," "Silence of the Lambs" or a crudely exploitative, blood-soaked, teen slasher flick like "Friday The Thirteenth."

The immersive first-person shooter or RPG presents a very different set of problems. Gene Wolfe's "When I Was Ming The Merciless" Endangered Species [amazon.com] is a must-read in this context.

The player with a copy of "Fallout" might begin by asking a deceptively simple question:

How do you respond to the presence of children in the game? Could you accept them being drawn more centrally into the story and action?

Re:Missed the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18338319)

This ajax moderation really needs some sort of a cancel button or something. I mis-clicked off topic for the parent post. Now, I have to comment somewhere to correct it.

There only one thing (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335477)

Opinions on the game itself aside, the ONLY thing we "owe" to it is exposing the idiots behind the "festival".

Like those they pretend to hate, the organizers of "arts festivals" are often in bed with large corporations.

Artists (2, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335515)

They're called "starving artists" for a reason. If you want to be an artiste , and you're going to rely on shock and things that people find distasteful to gain audience or instill emotion, then don't be surprised you're not going to get wonderful accolades and prizes and financial benefits.

You're... not just in it for accolades, prizes, and free swag, right? Not for interview time to push an agenda, right? You did it because you had a message to get out.

How you produce and handle backlash over this sort of thing is, I'll say, what separates the men from the boys.

Re:Artists (1)

Snowmit (704081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18336073)

You're... not just in it for accolades, prizes, and free swag, right? Not for interview time to push an agenda, right? You did it because you had a message to get out.

Err, having an agenda IS having a message to get out.

Poorly written and over-the-top article (2, Insightful)

ragingmime (636249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335889)

He described an example of a newscast in which the reporter was explicitly equivocating games with drugs and tobacco.
I think the word he's looking for is "equating."

Danny Ledonne, possibly the second most famous game creator on Earth
Really? I've heard of SCMRPG, but not Ledonne. Some game designers that I can name: Will Wright, Shigeru Miyamoto, Sid Meyer, Peter Molyneux.

Does Gamasutra have editors? Yeesh.

SCMRPG is an interesting idea, but I think it makes for a better conversation piece than anything else. That's fine and all, but a real work of art should be able to stand on its own. I'm not sure SCMRPG does that, and I think it's gotten so big because of its subject matter, not because it's really well-designed. I admit I haven't played it. I play games partly because they're a form of art but mainly because they're fun, and if a game is designed to be sickening instead of enjoyable, it's not worth my time. In this way, games are different from books, movies, etc. If it's not fun, it's a simulation, not a game. And I have no interest in a school shooting simulator. I'm not saying that SCMRPG is evil, but I don't think it's a really great idea either. I am glad that it's gotten people talking, but I don't think that that means SCMRPG a really great game or even worth my time.

The larger point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18335915)

There is a larger, more significant point here that I think we have all been missing. The point is this: laws against "murder" are nothing more than an excuse for the authorities to institute a police state.

It is the responisbility of parents, not police officers, not judges, not juries, parents, to raise children that do not grow up to be murderers. It is high time we stopped expecting the nanny state to rear our own offspring for us.

Re:The larger point (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18336107)

It is the responisbility of parents, not police officers, not judges, not juries, parents, to raise children that do not grow up to be murderers.

and when parenting fails, it becomes the responsibility of others to clean up the mess left behind.

the state has the right to intervene before someone gets killed.

Re:The larger point (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18336483)

the state has the right to intervene before someone gets killed. What? No, they don't. They have the right to extract punishment after the fact.

Re:The larger point (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18337329)

I don't know about you, but I'd prefer the cops do something when the gun is pointed at my head rather than wait until the trigger is pulled.

Re:The larger point (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18337931)

GP is right - the police only have the power to act after the fact (in theory).

A man pointing a gun at someone else's head has already commited several crimes (foremost of which is whichever one gives them the authority to use deadly force).

To twist your scenario a bit, say the man is keeping you prisoner by threat of a gun (which he has concealed or holstered). Police can't take the same action there (blow him away) because he didn't commit a heinous enough crime yet, even if the intent is the same in both cases.

Re:The larger point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18336615)

and it is people like you that probably happily give up their rights to feel more "secure".

Re:The larger point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18347111)

And it is people like that who really disgust me.

Two much better reviews: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18347561)

I'd wish the article author would do some more research on the game. Here are some snippets from two reviews which get the jist of opposition to this "game" (both artistic and moral) just right:

The case for the Prosecution [costik.com]:

I'm not going to argue that it's bad because the Columbine massacre was horrible, and any game based on it is inherently in bad taste; you're right that this is a straw horse, and in fact, I'd agree with you that any game that was about the massacre but also "insightful, somber, and respectful of its material" would have merit. But to claim that Super Columbine Massacre RPG! is "insightful, somber, and respectful" is either ingenuous or stupid.

In fact, Super Columbine Massacre RPG! seems to have been created specificially to glamorize the murderers, sensationalize and trivialize the tragedy, and create a controversy to promote the designer. In versions of his website that are now available only through web.archive.org, he earlier said:

"CONTENTS: A FREE Role Playing Game (RPG) for your PC devoid of malware, spyware or other junk not related to 'killing as many fuckheads as possible!'"

Somber and respectful, yes? And later:

"FINALLY, remember Reb's ['Reb' was Harris's online handle] words: 'Don't follow your dreams or goals or any of that shit, follow your fucking animal instincts: if it moves kill it, if it doesn't, burn it. Kein Mitleid!'

In other words, it's pretty obvious that the designer is among the sick crew who do indeed view Harris and Klebold as martyrs, in some twisted sense, rather than the psychopathic slaughterers of innnocents that they obviously were. [further content snipped]


A brave failure [manifestogames.com]:

This game aspires to be art, and art is fundamentally an act of communication. Therefore, my primary interest in playing it was to experience what it had to communicate. To my disappointment, I quickly found that the little communication contained in this piece is sparingly interspersed between long periods of gameplay.... [snip]

On the one hand, this is hardly a trivializing or exploitative treatment of the subject matter - the accusations to that effect, and the actions which they have instigated, are two inches short of bigotry. On the other hand, it appears to me to be as simplistic as those other interpretations of the Columbine Massacre which the game itself showers with scorn. "The System" is the easiest of targets, being unable to speak for itself, and hated by all because it affords complete freedom to none. This game under-emphasizes the fact that the "system-less" life its protagonists desire has been lived through by countless generations. Nowhere does it mention that this life amounted to one Columbine Massacre after another, and that our system, for all its hideous flaws, is our only protection against that kind of life.

We might claim that this game has been successful as an act of communication, simply because it has stirred so much discussion. Then again, as Costik rightly asserts, the main reason for the commotion was that it is a game that tackles a serious subject, regardless of how successfully it does so. But even if it is a successful act of communication, it is certainly not a successful game, because none of its communication is done through gameplay. If a film critic were able to transcend the controversy and give this game a fair try, he'd probably say: "that's an interesting satirical cartoon you got there, but why are there so many long, irrelevant breaks in the story, and why do I have to keep pressing keys in order to watch it?" If this is really the flagship of art-oriented gaming, we are in deep artistic trouble. But we already knew that.
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