dvicente's Super Columbine Massacre RPG (PC)
| [May 29, 2012 03:03:11 PM]
| So now I’m in hell -- literally. At this point I have settled to a point of frustration and disbelief that the designers would actually go this far with the medium. I definitely have to affirm that I am abused at this point, to the point of frustration – I’ve spent most of my own time playing this game hoping that I can gain some kind of meaningful insight through a thoughtful narrative, but instead I was given a repetitive scenario where I have to go through the combat system over and over again just to progress, right after I was tired of making a conscious effort to actually kill the students. There’s no way I’m going to play for beyond this session. I personally believe it’s the designer’s responsibility to treat the game as a “documentative” medium, while at the same time making it accessible for people who are more interested in the story rather than the gameplay, simply because the gameplay had gotten really boring at this point. |
I guess I’ll take some time now to reflect about the game’s significance. I do think it is significant, in that it proves games that it can be a storytelling medium, especially for real-world events in this case. I don’t think it was insulting to portray the characters in the game as 16-bit characters because this was thoughtfully designed with a narrative perspective in mind. In other words, the killers eventually transformed their worldviews similar to that of what is expressed in Super Columbine RPG. I feel that is valid. But at the same, this can be really misunderstood. One would say choosing to use the 16-bit graphic and making the situation a parody of a JRPG is insulting and desensitizing to the reality of the actual shootings.
It’s because this game can be misunderstood as an offense to the victims and the school that the game is not accessible. I feel the designers had a responsibility to make this accessible not only to gamers and non-gamers, but to the victims (and families of the victims) who were involved in the massacre. Otherwise this makes a great documentary since it represents an interpretation of two emergent motivations based on an assembly of arguments made from collective evidence related to the shootings… at least until the two protagonists reached hell.
This entry has been edited 2 times. It was last edited on May 29th, 2012 at 15:07:24.
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| [May 29, 2012 05:29:52 AM]
| Prewritten: 5/27|
So I reach inside the school, and I start killing these teenagers. But no namedrops here – rather, they were given names of high school stereotypes such as “jock type,” “nerdy girl,” “church girl,” “church boy,” “janitor,” “English teacher,” just to name a few. There was an interesting scenario where the characters spare the life of one kid for actually addressing them by name – here I was, thinking I was going to kill everyone at the school. Well, at first I wanted to kill everyone in the school and see if that was possible. According to what I’ve heard, Eric and Dylan weren’t able to actually do that. But I guess by giving the player the option to kill everyone they were trying to communicate that in reality, they COULD’VE done that if they knew what they were getting into.
My game experience was different, however. In fact, it was so different that I think it caused the game to communicate a very inconsistent message: I was getting tired of killing. I mean, this really would’ve been a different story if this were a Quake-mod since I’d at least have the thrill of aiming and shooting, but getting into combat and repeating the same commands over and over again diluted the meaningfulness of the gameplay. Sure, I was gaining combat experience points, but I just didn’t care anymore. I wanted the plot to go on.
But now that I think of it, since the designers decided to name this game Super Columbine Massacre RPG as a nod to the SNES games made then, it implies that I can only expect the same kind of depth of play that I would find in an SNES game that has “Super” in it. In other words, gameplay would be more emphasized than the storyline, or I guess gameplay would consume most of my time than the storyline would. If that’s the case, then Super Columbine Massacre RPG can be a parody of those games, too. But does that detract from the message that ought to be conveyed, which is to narrate the perspective of the boys?
To a point, it didn’t. I understand from the messages of “NBK” that they were supposed to be emotionless killers and from introducing “Doom” that they treated their experience like a game. But if I get tired of killing, it communicates an inconsistent emotion about the killers, implying that they indeed had enough killing and decided to give up.
I guess the designers did anticipate this because by the time I entered the library and activated the police shooting event there, I was asked if I wanted to keep killing people or just end it there, and much to my satisfaction, I chose the latter. Okay, so this time around the designers were thoughtful.
I think what was really interesting was that they didn’t show Eric and Dylan actually committing suicide. Sure, they showed photos of them, but at first I thought someone had shot them by then. Maybe the designers were trying to avoid arrest for promoting suicide? Either way, it wouldn’t have been ethical for them to show a scene of suicide, despite having the player participate in an activity of innocent bloodshed. Actually, I would argue that the creation of the game itself wasn't ethical because I don't think the developers had the direct consent of the school or the victims. I do believe that the creators are entitled to the first amendment, however there is an emotional cost of making this game, and that is the emotions of the victims and the people who empathize with them. I think the designers could have done a better job with the game by communicating the perspective of the killers as if they were telling the story to the victims as well, and not just to an outsider of the situation.
This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on May 29th, 2012 at 14:47:25.
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| [May 29, 2012 04:44:28 AM]
| Prewritten: 5/26|
Before actually playing this game, I was already expecting a J-RPG portrayal style, with an interesting narrative possibly overpowering the somewhat tedious turn-based gameplay. And yes, my expectations were correct – but not to the degree that I had expected. By placing a lot of tidbits here and there such as the Doom game, the Marilyn Manson CD, the Denver Water toilet, and “NBK” played on their television set, there was a very interesting documentary-styled aspect to the game which I figured the designers were probably inspired from Squaresoft’s work with Chrono Trigger, who very much did the same for its own characters. It’s like picking up these “hidden items” were like Easter Eggs that weren’t necessary for the plot to progress, but definitely helped better understand the characters and what fueled their motivations.
Yet at the same time, gameplay in terms of the combat system was kept simple so that the players can focus on the narrative. I personally wouldn’t think it would’ve been fair to create a hardcore, complex combat system in a game like this, since the purpose was to tell a story, not to give players a challenge. I was very disappointed when I found that the designers did not do a consistent job of guiding players to where they want them to. When I was at the parking lot for the first time, I forgot to bring the bombs and wandered into the cafeteria, wondering what I was supposed to be doing. They could’ve made my partner remind me about the bombs – why do I need to go through the effort of picking up the bags when an automated cinematic could’ve done that for me? At the very least, I could’ve been reminded before I enter the school. Then after a few events, I was supposed to go to this hill and press the confirm button in a certain area to let the events progress. There’s a problem regarding accessibility here – how was I supposed to know where to press the confirm button? Sure, the readme told me to press the confirm button when in doubt, but honestly, an event collision could have easily been made then.
At this point, I was feeling a little abused for participating in the game, trying to figure out what the designers want me to do for the game to progress. Since it’s a story-driven game, I think it should be as nearly as accessible as a visual novel. Only this kind of novel would have a simple combat system.
As a result of this inaccessibility however, more than an hour of gameplay had already passed, and I haven’t even killed anyone inside the school yet (though I did kill some in the parking lot). All this time wasted when I could have been told a substantial story already!
This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on May 29th, 2012 at 04:47:11.
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