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    Feb 23rd, 2009 at 10:49:53     -    Super Columbine Massacre (Arcade)

    I am incredibly relieved that I never have to play this game again. Ninety minutes in this “fantasy world” is unacceptable; moreover, downloading this game is unacceptable. I do not agree with all the reviews, articles and statements that say, “This ‘artist’ is making a statement about school shootings in this video game. He is shining light on a situation that no other medium has ever presented in such an eye-opening fashion.” This game is deplorable in its depiction of the incident and is incredibly insensitive; the “artist” failed to see its torturous capability.

    That being said, I began my final game play inside the cafeteria. In this setting, the shooter gets transported into a flashback of how he would sit alone at lunch, and no one would talk to him. This flashback ends with a poem by T.S. Eliot, in which he expresses that the “world ends not with a bang, but with a whimper.” I understand what the game designer is trying to suggest, but honestly, I just spent two game plays as the shooter preparing to murder innocent people needlessly, and shooting them at point-blank range as they just stood there. Am I really supposed to feel sympathetic? I do find it incredibly sad and frightening that two boys would have the thoughts and experiences terrible enough to go through with a crime such as this. I know that their families, along with the victims’ families, must have been grieving terribly. However, I do not feel that the game addresses this issue in the most appropriate fashion.

    On another technical aspect, I found this game incredibly challenging. I was never given directions, or told what to pick up, or shown where to go. I’m aware that this is the way of most RPG games, but the “Mario-like” graphics combined with RPG “discovery methods” was very jarring (putting all game content aside). Aside from discovering items and rooms in the game, there is no skill involved.

    At another point in the game, I found a bathroom, in which there was a group of boys described as “jocks” and “preppies.” Instead of “needless” killing, the game designer chose to represent the murder of these boys as “heroic,” in that the shooters are saving another boy in the bathroom from being picked on again. The boy thanks the shooters, and then says that he cannot pay them, but instead, gives them first aid kits. Do I really have to go into detail about why this entire depiction is immoral and nauseating? These boys were not heroes, in any sense. They were sick, mentally ill people who destroyed so many lives without a second-thought or remorse.

    My final summary of the game would be that it is unethical to download, and that the game designer should not be praised for his “art.” In making this game, he degraded the incident, and all those affected by it; by self-proclaiming it to be “art,” he diminished the real artistic quality of poems and films that were created by those affected by the Columbine shootings. Overall, I am angered at the creation of this game, and hope that no one is ever forced to play this game again.

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    Feb 22nd, 2009 at 21:24:10     -    Super Columbine Massacre (Arcade)

    My second game play began with a short preparation for “the deadliest school shooting ever.” Speaking solely about the technical aspects of this game, I would say that the “pause screen” in which you can view statistics and inventory and choose which weapons to use is not easily understood. This may just be because I have never had much experience with “pause screens” or games that utilize them to maximum capacity. However, I was highly disturbed by the fact that, the more you prepared for murder, the higher your statistics were. I assume these statistics rise when you actually do commit murder as the shooters. This is in very poor taste, and if the designer was intending to “make a statement” with this game, this aspect was not appropriate to include.

    As the shooters are waiting for the bombs to explode, I found the dialogue between them to be frightening in the sense that they were casual and unemotional. Much of the previous dialogue had also been in this fashion, but the murders were beginning, and they were still talking like this. At least with previous dialogue, the shooters spoke of their philosophies and experiences and their emotions that caused them to do this; however, this dialogue stood out because the shooters were in that moment (or so they thought) beginning to take lives and destroy the lives of others. They were also planning on killing themselves, yet their dialogue suggests cold-blooded, evil robotic mannerisms.

    This seems to change ever so slightly when one of the shooters confronts a girl in the parking lot and tells her to get out of there because he likes her. This suggests that the shooter does have emotions, but yet, he still goes through with this insanity. The game is very conflicting in this way, as I can see that the artist is intending to get to the bare thoughts of these shooters, but I think he misses the mark by a light year.

    When it comes time to kill a student, the manner of it is incredibly horrifying. The depictions of the students are childlike, and do not move. This makes it seem like the murders of these real life people were simple “target practice” and incredibly trivial. Making it so impersonal allows the player to commit these murders without remorse. Also, the game doesn’t give you a choice of whether to kill or not. It assumes you will do in order to advance in the game.

    The remainder of my game play continued in this fashion, and as I continued to kill student after student in this fashion, I became more disgusted with myself for actually downloading this game and contributing to its success. I also began to notice the stereotyping of the students. How would the real life victim’s families respond to these generalizations of their deceased children? That is what disturbs me most about the creation of this game: the fact that this game designer, who was not involved with the shootings at all, was insensitive enough to realize that the victims’ families would hear of this in the media, and still release the game.

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    Feb 22nd, 2009 at 02:05:06     -    Super Columbine Massacre (Arcade)

    Having never heard of this game before, I was shocked to hear that such a game existed, and also, that I would be required to play it for a class assignment. I felt sick to my stomach thinking about how I would have to download such a game, and would have to take part in the inexcusable behavior of mimicking a real-life, tragic, horrifying event by playing it. I even felt it immoral to download the game, contributing to the designer’s exposure and success. I even considered not doing the assignment, considering my strong objection to the game’s content.

    After I read reviews of the game and the author’s intent, I figured I would at least take a look at the game in order to contribute to class conversation about it. Playing it, however, was a different story; knowing what was to come, I prolonged the inevitable as long as possible. I took way longer than I needed to read every single message that popped up on the screen. In addition to that, I’m not a very good game player in general. I was grateful for that inadequacy while playing this game, because my confusion over where to go next, what to pick up and how to do so prevented me from getting to the actual “massacre” part of the game during this 30 minute session. I dread playing the game next time. I do not want to play it any further.

    That being said, I did it find it interesting that the game designer chose to include many “excerpts” of the shooters’ dialogue with each other, and diary entries. I am curious to know whether the shooters’ were quoted accurately over instant message, or what documentation the game designer was collecting his facts from. I am aware that the police released 950 pages of diary entries and “blueprints” created by the shooters, but I was unaware of specific dialogue records between them the day of the shooting. If the game designer took liberty with these records, and put words into the shooters’ mouth in the form of a video game, I find that to be in bad taste. Would these boys really have said such things? I am unsure of where the game designer found this information, but if ALL (and ALL means ALL) the messages were QUOTED directly from the boys, it does seem like information I would not have found out otherwise through news media. This may be the ONLY positive thing I have to say about the game so far…and it is resting on a very big IF.

    Along those lines, I noticed the music playing in the background, considering I am a fan of both “Nirvana” and “Radiohead.” Were the shooters fans of this music as well? Or, is the game designer also making a comment on the nature of these songs being expressive of “teen angst” (specially Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” and Radiohead’s “Creep”). The game seems to be sending some pointed messages in this fashion.

    The game play itself is not very difficult, and for someone with more experience with video games it would be downright easy. I find RPG games to be especially hard because I am not sure what I am looking for, and where to go. I searched around easily enough to pick up “weapons” and search through the shooter’s music and car, but I found it extremely irrelevant. To make a social criticism of this horrific and painful event through this particular medium was NOT a good idea; video games have always been a form of entertainment, and should remain that way. Putting the player “in the shooter’s shoes” does not socially critique anything; it just makes the player feel uncomfortable, or, disgustingly intrigued.

    One last note: what do you think the parents of the students and teacher that was killed would think of the creation of this game? Does anyone care about how they feel? I completely understand that this shooting changed the world in a painful way, and that because of this shooting, schools have had to create new safety measures and kids have been more closely monitored; however, this event did not happen TO us. It did happen to many people at Columbine, however, and I would be curious to know how they feel about the trivialization of this event as depicted in this video game.

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    Jan 20th, 2009 at 22:54:05     -    Grand Theft Auto : San Andreas (XBX)

    As my final game log is meant to summarize Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, I figured I would stop trying to figure out how to play well, and instead focus on the ethical issues within the game. I realized I had spent too much time getting frustrated over failing miserably at missions rather than focusing on my surroundings, character interactions and specific game choices. Therefore, in this final entry, I will describe some of what I discovered during forty-five minutes of simply walking around and stealing cars in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

    Previously, as I watched my friends play GTA: 4, nine times out of ten, their first stop was to pick up a prostitute. Therefore, this was my first decision of the game. I barely had any money or health, but I wanted to see what would happen. As the prostitute got into my car, I drove into an alleyway where the car then began to shake. Now, I don't know who goes to prostitutes for medical attention, but surprisingly, my health increased dramatically. GTA rewards players for behaving immorally, and it seems that there is no way to survive in the game without hiring hookers. I was not at all surprised that GTA's depiction of prostitutes was tasteless and degrading towards women, but, I'm not sure what you would expect.

    After the prostitute left, I figured I'd leave too and find a nicer car. The logistics of stealing a car are most definitely immoral. Not only are you committing grand theft auto, but most of the time, you are also assaulting the current driver. You beat him, drag him out of the car, and take off without any police to stop you. GTA is definitely a game that values violence, and each and every character in the game thrives on it. If you are not willing to be violent, you will be bored playing GTA. Nothing will happen to you, except death by drive-by shooting. All of the missions require you to be violent to complete them, and if you are not willing to defend yourself against violence, you will die. The only resolution in this game is violence, so therefore, all ethical choices amount to violence. In conclusion, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas = Violence.

    Speaking of all this violence going on, a cop car passed me without stopping as I was beating the driver to death and stealing his car. Let's discuss the police for a moment in this game. In my last post, I made a comment about the police that seemed immature and spiteful, calling police in general "jerks." This was in the context in which the police call the character "n*gger" and another character "dirty Mexican." I have been around actual police officers when they have used this language; however, there are more police men and women that only want to serve and protect, rather than go on a power trip with the gun, the badge and the car. GTA seems forgetful of these men and women who actually deserve our respect and admiration. Any cop, whether or not they were the former or latter as described, would stop and prevent an assault and theft. The cops in GTA are not difficult to fool or escape from, and therefore, violence prevails above all in San Andreas. Although GTA's portrayal of cops as corrupt may be partially correct in certain cases, it is also extremely irresponsible.

    Lastly, I focused on the character himself. As far as I am aware from the scope of my game play, CJ is a young African-American who has been in trouble with the law, and is "owned" by the police as they send him to do dirty work "for" the city. His mom was also killed by rival gang members, and he is also involved in gang activity. Although I would like to say that this isn't a stereotype, because there are people of every race and ethnicity involved in gangs and corrupt politics, I would have to say that GTA's portrayal of CJ as a languid, emotionless person makes it evident that the game developers devised him from a degrading stereotype of African Americans in the "hood."

    Overall, I can see the entertainment value in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. However, these problems, such as sex workers, corrupt cops, gang shootings, violent neighborhoods, and brutality in general are actual, real life problems that plague our world. Is it necessary to lessen the severity of these issues to create entertainment value? Therefore, I don't think I will play Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas again. I find it more productive to study these real issues and contribute to the solution for all of them. Video games should be left to the fantasy world, as the real world issues that confront us all are already hard enough to deal with in reality.

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