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    Aug 8th, 2010 at 13:58:31     -    Super Columbine Massacre RPG (PC)

    I can’t say that I’m surprised that an overwhelming majority of students hate this game. School shootings are among the most sensitive of subjects, and the act of turning them into a game has the power to make one uneasy. I wish to ask the question, why is it, exactly, that this game makes us so uncomfortable?

    It is overly simplistic to believe that just because a game presents a certain scenario, that the game celebrates it. We can watch documentaries about genocide and war and not feel overwhelmingly disturbed because we know that the purpose of a documentary is to inform the viewer. A game is different, however, because we are not a distant audience, watching the events in the third person – in SCMRPG, we are put into the roles of the killers. The question of whether or not the game supports school shootings becomes very blurred because of this.

    If the creator changed the names of the shooters and the location, would the game upset as many people? I believe that the major reason many people find this game distasteful is because it’s based on a real event, rather than, for example, a similar but fictional event. The main ethical question this game raises is whether or not the game’s creators should be allowed to make a game based on a real tragedy, and what degree of sympathy the game should inspire towards the villains.

    The game would have been more successful in getting the player to sympathize with Eric and Dylan if it had showed more of their day-to-day life dealing with bullies and their status as outcasts. Instead, it shows us the shooting as an isolated event. Without knowing much about the years of abuse that built up to them snapping, it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to understand why they did it.

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    Aug 2nd, 2010 at 19:52:44     -    Super Columbine Massacre RPG (PC)

    fter doing a bit of research on the Columbine killers, I came to realize how much of the game’s content had been lifted from their journals – the plan to fly a plane into New York City (strangely prophetic considering what happened only three years later), their violent fantasies, and the overall hatefulness that consumed their minds. In this way, their representation in the game seems very true to how they actually were.

    I can only imagine what happened to them that helped make them that way. While a short cutscene in the game shows an example of the character being beaten up, I know that more demeaning things happened to them, including having a cup of excrement thrown at them. In the game, however, it really just seems like typical teen angst – Eric is upset because no girls will sleep with him (wow, who could resist such a charmer…), and because he gets made fun of because of his clothes, etc. What I don’t understand is why these boys took guns and bombs to their high school only a month before graduation. Their constant railing against the “routine” lifestyle favored by “everyone else” struck me as incredibly juvenile and short-sighted.

    Media plays a major role in this game. I recognized midi-versions of songs by Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein, and Nirvana, all of which brought me back to junior high school. On top of that, there were quite a few quotes from these songs, long slide-shows of photos, and a snippet of President Clinton’s response to the Columbine shooting. Though Dylan asserts that “It's my fault! Not my parents, not my brothers, not my friends, not my favorite bands, not computer games, not the media, it's mine," we can’t help but question the role the media had in their lives, dedicated as they were to violent images and nihilistic ideas. One of their incentives in carrying out the shooting was their desire for recognition, which, of course, can only be brought about through the media’s coverage of the shooting.

    As for the game-play, I am still trying to figure my way out of Hell without being killed by fire-breathing imps.

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    Jul 30th, 2010 at 18:52:34     -    Super Columbine Massacre RPG (PC)

    Works that encourage people to look at destructive events from the point of view of the perpetrators walk on unstable ground. Though recent pieces of entertainment, notably the TV series “Dexter,” succeed in swaying the audience to the side of the villain, it’s usually in a fictional context – there never was a real Dexter, and he doesn’t come with any historical significance. It would be difficult to get people to sympathize with the instigators behind tragic events in history like WWII and the Holocaust, September 11th, and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
    It would be easy for a game like Super Columbine RPG to be simply exploitative, and to be honest, that’s what I expected when the menu screen popped up with a Marilyn Manson song playing in the background. The dialogue between Eric and Dylan is pretty well written and it sets up their teen angst and us-against-the-world mentality pretty well. What we don’t get, however, is any idea of what drove them to shoot their classmates – they say they were bullied, but I never saw any actual examples of them being bullied, at least not at this point in the game. Their use of German irked me a little – they struck me as trying very hard to seem badass, and came off looking more like idiots.
    The game-play is not intuitive. The violence is just about as graphic as it is in Final Fantasy VII. That is to say that it’s very difficult to disturb the player with such heavily pixilated characters, though there is something sad about the little sprites covered in bloody pixels. I felt kind of bad killing them despite the graphics being very retro, especially the Openly Gay Man character, because it was hateful, plain and simple.
    Despite my distaste for the game, I admit that it must have taken courage to make it. Major game producers would never touch the subject of school shootings for fear of the controversy (and probably because they would find it distasteful, too).

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    Jul 26th, 2010 at 21:25:56     -    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)

    I began playing GTA not knowing what to expect. There was quite an uproar about it a few years ago, when violence in video games was especially controversial right after Columbine.

    It's not the kind of game I usually play and the gameplay was a bit hard to figure out. I didn't know what to do to continue the story mode, so I ended up running aimlessly around the city getting shot at. I lost the bike right away and at one point I jumped off of a mountain. Needless to say, I didn't complete any missions and spent all of the time figuring out how the game worked.

    The atmosphere of aggression and hostility was overpowering to the point that it seemed ridiculous. San Andreas seems to be populated entirely by characters who embody racial stereotypes (including, inexplicably, white people who all sound British or Australian) who shout at each other and pull guns if you stick around too long. I wouldn't presume to have the ultimate knowledge of good and evil or anything, so I wouldn't call this game immoral or unethical per se, but it definitely skirts the edge of good taste.

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