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    Oct 29th, 2009 at 14:53:55     -    Super Columbine Massacre RPG (PC)

    So I gave up on Hell level. I exp'd till level 13 and I was still killed in two fights in Hell, and then I have to go back to the parking lot and run through the final scene and the slideshow again. I guess it's encouraging you to kill as many people as you can (Seems the people in the classrooms respawn).

    The slideshow is another example of aspects of the game that temporarily bring it back to reality. The player can treat this like a game and just go around shooting people, but then once the two kill themselves it shows this slideshow that essentially depicts all the carnage that the player just acted out. It's a weird realization to suddenly think of the actions that you perform in game with real life consequences. I think it does a better job than other things in game, such as the recording that shows a picture of the two boys, since it's more extensive and it shows the aftermath, which is more gruesome.

    Overall I don't find this game offensive. It does a decent job of portraying the boys as human rather than monsters. It's easy to demonize someone who performs an act like shooting up a school. I guess we want to believe that people who commit evil acts are evil by nature, or that they're crazy. That seems to cater to virtue ethics. The problem I had with virtue ethics, and something that I haven't seen in any of the material we've covered in class, is what it means if someone commits an immoral act. Does that make them an immoral person? Does it mean they will perform other immoral acts? Should we condemn them for it? And also, is it even possible for someone to never commit an immoral act? I guess since this is focused on character rather than actions, this would be something for virtue ethics to address. If we are character focused rather than action focused, I think we need a way to generalize actions or assess a person's actions on the whole. This is more in line with finding out how to live and if we have lived a good life.

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    Oct 28th, 2009 at 22:25:14     -    Super Columbine Massacre RPG (PC)

    So I completed the first portion of the game tonight, went through the slideshow, and ended up in hell, where I got my butt handed to me. So I went back and spend some time levelling up. As I was going though the slideshow, I was reminded of the comment about Metal Gear Solid 3 and I wondered if the slideshow's length was based on how many people you killed. It had occurred to me earlier that it's probably possible to get to the point where they kill themselves without actually killing anyone. But I had instead started killing people right away, to explore the game mechanics, level up and see what happens.

    I think that's a big danger with making a game out of this rather than say a movie or a book. A movie director is very much holding the hand of the audience and guiding them through the movie, so it's unlikely that they will miss the importance of events like killing other classmates or the like (unless that is purposely trivialized by the director). In a game, however, it's a lot easier for events to lose meaning because they also have to fit into the game mechanic. Killing other students and teachers gives you exp. This is a common mechanic for all RPGs, so I didn't think twice about "exping" once I acquired the weapons from the trunk. At this point it's become habit.

    So now I'm faced with the problem of Hell's difficulty, and so I have to start at a previous save point and level up (since I don't see any way to heal in Hell yet). There's an implication that I'll be killing people at the school in order to do this, but I just thought of it as needing to exp and gain a few levels. That's not really a problem in a movie. Events in a movie do have to serve different purposes (plot, entertainment, suspense, character development), but they all go towards the user's experience of the story, not a mechanic like gameplay, which generally is intended to keep the player challenged/interested.

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    Oct 27th, 2009 at 22:03:48     -    Super Columbine Massacre RPG (PC)

    There are a lot of story bits in the basement if you guys haven't checked yet. It communicates a lot about what kind of kids these are in the game (I have no idea if it is accurate to real life). At points, they sound like they believe themselves to be in a process of ascension. there are other points where they seem like they care for their parents and friends, and other parts where they just want to kill people and blow stuff up.

    The most ethically interesting part, I think, is the clip from Apocalypse now by Marlon Brando. It challenges our views of people who commit atrocities such as this, and how we tend to characterize them.

    "And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God... the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment. Because it's judgment that defeats us."

    So the implication is that, rather than monsters who revel in such horrible acts, or emotionless robots, there are people who do terrible things even if they are moral men. Eric and Dylan appear to fall into this category in the sense that they have families and at least Eric appears to care for them (go do the recording in the bottom left), but they are full of judgments of everyone who has hurt them (according to the some of the other backstory). So this quote really doesn't apply to them.

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    Sep 24th, 2009 at 13:37:59     -    Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (PS2)

    So Jose was right about writing to a text file before writing to here. I just lost a lengthy post and I'm not going to rewrite the whole thing so here are some key points:

    The game sets up an environment and story which makes the immoral actions the player makes justified and the consequences negligible, such as shooting cops and stealing cars from innocent bystanders.

    In the first few minutes cops are shown as being corrupt, abusive, and racist. They threaten to frame CJ, the main character, for the shooting of a police officer. Then they dump him off in a dangerous neighborhood.

    This is where I took control of CJ, and after taking a bike that I was told to take by the game, I soon found myself attacked by a gang. After accidentally hitting one with my bike (and apparently killing him?) the cops showed up and started attacking me to. I defended myself and the cops started shooting at me. I'd seen people play this game before and I guessed that I could steal cars just as I'd taken that bike, so I did so as it offered me the best chance of survival. So I felt justified off the bat in both fighting cops and stealing a car. I also found it hard to control the car and thus crashed into a lot of stuff, but it was all for the cause of escaping.

    Later on, I made two other discoveries that made it okay to perform these kinds of actions as the player.
    First, pretty much everyone is a jerk. People on the street will pick fights with you for very little provocation. Then you have to defend yourself.
    Second, NPCs don't care about property damage. I crashed two friends' cars into various objects and ran over one guy's fence, and neither cared. Most NPCs seem to feel this way, which makes the consequences of most actions very negligible.

    Taken together, these discoveries about the setting and the story makes it far more acceptable to do things that we normally would consider very immoral. It makes the main character the oppressed and most other characters the oppressors. And over time, the lack of consequences and this feeling of justification just bleeds over into the free roaming game play and the player feels its okay to perform these acts in any situation, regardless of whether it is for survival or the story.

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