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    Feb 23rd, 2009 at 11:22:49     -    Super Columbine Massacre RPG (PC)

    I played SCMRPG for the last time today. I couldn't get past this "hell" level that I had gotten to, and I'm pretty sure its because I didn't level up my combat level enough while I was in the school. I don't understand how this hell level contributes to the gravity of the situation, as it seems to me to be a light-hearted mockery. I know they said that killing everyone in the school would be like Doom, so I get the Doom connection, but...this just seems like a lack of seriousness in portraying this event.

    Maybe the hell level had some value that I haven't found because I couldn't get anywhere in it. If that is the case, then the fact that the developer made the hell level so difficult is questionable. From reading some of the other entries that classmates have made, it doesn't sound like I was the only one who experienced some difficulty in this area. I'm assuming this is because we all did not feel comfortable spending time in the school maxing out our characters. The fact that this it is necessary not to kill some of the students in the school but to run around and kill as many students as possible so that your character will be strong enough for later portions of the game is questionable, ethically. If the developer is not trying to promote violence, then I don't think it is permissable to make wanton violence and slaughter intrinsic to progression in the game, especially considering the real-life basis of this game. I'm not sure if this game was meant in the beneficial manner the developer claims it to be, and it is just poorly executed, or if it is meant to garner attention for the developer; either way, I find this game to be ethically bereft, and an almost complete waste of time.

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    Feb 23rd, 2009 at 03:18:51     -    Super Columbine Massacre RPG (PC)

    My second time playing wasn't much better than the first. I didn't really know what to do for a while, and, frankly, the game isn't very good at telling you. This again causes me to question whether the subject matter of the game is taken as seriously as the developer claims. The killing is disturbing, and rightfully so. Its not the graphics or the actual combat, but the ease at which most foes are dispatched, combined with the fact that they don't, for the most part, fight back. My assumption is that the combat was made to be disquieting on purpose, as, if it were fun, this would detract from the gravity and overall stated purpose of the game. Following this line of thought, if the developer KNOWS players will be uncomfortable, and KNOWS they probably will want to get along with the story as quickly and as painlessly as possible, the developer should then make it easy for the player to do so. The developer has not done this, however, as there is no clear objective of any kind, other than that stated by the main characters: kill "shitheads". Well, that's great, except that killing a certain amount of "shitheads" DOESN'T, in fact, progress you along the storyline in any way, unless the thinking is that if the player tries to kill everyone, they will eventually be led to the library in search of more poeple to kill. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone actually WANTS to do this, so instead we (the players) spend time wandering around. Thanks, developer.

    I finally killed the janitor, got the key, and got on with the story. I really liked the comparison between the frankenstein monster and the two students, and found it to be very poignant.

    I got up to what looks like some hell sequence and stopped. I liked the montage of the pictures of Eric and Dylan, as I feel this is very effective in causing the player to realize that these two kids were people, once little boys. The photos of them in little league gear especially brought this point home. I think this portion of the game definitely has some worth, as it causes the player to realize that hatred towards the perpetrators of these types of situations is not the answer. This can only lead to further alienation of kids who seem like the "school shooter" type, which could, possibly, create another such situation, as alienation seems to have been a contributing factor in the stress affecting the psyches of the killers. Forgiveness is a valuable lesson, and one that this game might be capable of teaching, if the early flaws and mis-steps can be overlooked. I'm not sure that they can, however, considering this new Hell sequence with Doom music playing in the background. I'm not sure what value this sequence can offer, but I guess I'll find out next time I play.

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    Feb 21st, 2009 at 02:32:18     -    Super Columbine Massacre RPG (PC)

    Today I played my first bit of Super Columbine Massacre RPG. I'm not really sure where I want to go with this entry, as my mind was sort of all over the place as I was playing. As with any other well-made game, I find myself immersed in the world, feeling what the characters feel, and wanting to do what the characters do. In this game, however, I found myself stopping every time I found a reference to something I hadn't heard of, like Andre Breton, KMFDM, etc., to look it up on wikipedia. I spent alot of time reading about the two kids themselves, and so my half hour of playing time became an hour.

    I guess I'm getting kind of ahead of myself, as most of the reading really only occured once I started the actual massacre at the school. I can't imagine why I would try to find some other activity in which to participate, over the wanton slaughter of pixelated students...perhaps I was feeling a little uncomfortable? I definitely was, and on a concious level. It started off fun for me, actually, as I tried to kill as many of the students in the parking lot as I could. I'm sure that sounds sick, but I'm pretty sure it roots from having played games before; this is the task that has been given to me, I will complete it to the best of my abilities. As I continued playing though, I started to kill less and less, until finally I was conciously avoiding people in the hallways. I was tired of shooting unarmed students, and I just wanted to get to the story elements, as they were really the only interesting aspect. I realized that the game never actually TOLD you you had to massacre everyone in the school; I had decided sub-conciously decided that's what I was supposed to do, considering the game I was playing. I'm not sure yet if you can progress through the story without killing anyone, as I haven't gotten that far. To be honest, I can't say that I really feel all that motivated to play again, as this first episode left me with a sort of sour taste in my mouth.

    From what I've read about the game, both from the mouths of the creator and other critics, Super Columbine Massacre RPG is NOT meant to make light or mock, or treat the real event with anything but respect and gravity; this is evident in the fact that the game concentrates on WHY Eric and Dylan did what they did, and not WHAT they did (as the game seems, outwardly, to settle on). The fact that time was taken to show the emotions and thoughts behind the faces of the Columbine Killers, and, from what I've read, lift the majority of dialogue from real records of what they said or wrote, is impressive.

    It seems that the creator is trying to take a serious, thoughtful approach to the subject of the tragedy, and discover, or let others discover, why this happened, and what lessons can be learned as a result. This is a noble effort, however, I get the feeling that this might NOT, in actuality, be the creator's actual effort. While this is surely what we are SUPPOSED to think, after reading the creator's words concerning the game, I find there to be a large focus on the contraversy surrounding the game being a result of the fact that it is a game, and not some other form of media. While it is true, as the creator argues, that one should not judge the content of something based solely on its form of communication, whether it be a book, film, or video game, I wonder what effect the name of the game in question has on one's initial judgement. People make snap judgements; this is simply a fact of life. While it may not be right, or reasonable, it happens. With this in mind, naming the game "Super Columbine Massacre RPG!" is tantamount to asking for contraversy. The title (and, really, the presentation) screams irreverance and glorification, and were it not for actually having PLAYED the game, I would likely judge it in the same manner, my being a gamer notwithstanding. I feel that if this were a serious attempt at a respectful investigation of a tragic event, a more appropriate title might have been chosen. However, if the purpose for the games creation was an attempt to highlight how games are misjudged and unnappreciated, then the title is wholly appropriate. Why call the game "Super Columbine Massacre RPG!", unless to create an ironic statement concerning the bad reputation video games have received. Unless the creator REALLY expect everyone who hears of the game, adults in particular, to sit down and play it, he/she should not act surprised at the outrage it caused. The creator does not strike me as the kind of fool that would make this poor judgement, and so I would venture to guess that the title was a purposeful choice, and the contraversy welcome.

    Personally, this causes me to feel that the creation of the game IS somewhat unethical, not because it treats the subject in an irreverant manner, but because it seems to have been created to fight back against the villainization of video games, using the Columbine Massacre as a means to that end. In my opinion, THIS is the irreverant treatment of the event, not the game itself.

    I guess this isn't my final judgement of the game, however, as, according to the assignment, I have to play two more times. Two more wonderful half hours filled with dodging people in hallways on the way to the next story element. If this game wasn't meant to glorify killing, then don't put so many damn NPC's in the way. It's just obnoxious.

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    Jan 20th, 2009 at 23:27:18     -    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PC)

    On my final time playing GTA:SA, I tried to act morally. I started off down the street and quickly decided this was too slow. So I decided to hop a cab. Now I know in this game you steal cars, but I figured if I walked up to the back door of the cab, I'd be able to get in and maybe pick a destination. I was wrong. Although my character was clearly positioned in front of the back door, when I pressed the action button, he automatically repositioned himself in by the front passenger door, opened it, and threw the cab driver out on the street. I drove off, and then noticed that the screen was telling me that I could start cab missions by pressing a button. Interested in some work that didn't involve crime, although one could not access this work without first committing the crime of grand theft auto, I pressed the button and picked up my first fare. The game told me that my tip decreased the longer I took to get the fare to his destination, and so, of course, I drove as fast as I possibly could, as this is what the game is encouraging. The car didn't handle very well, and I ended up running over a few pedestrians along the way, causing the police to take notice. I tried to outrun the police but eventually my car was wrecked, and I was forced to crawl out. The police, rather than trying to apprehend me, were shooting at me, and so, in the interest of self-preservation, grabbed a police motorcycle and drove off.

    The situation basically escalated further in the manner described above, ending in many pedestrian deaths, and the deaths of a few police officers. This situation illustrated clearly to me how easy it was to do immoral things, such as run over pedestrians, steal cars, and cause general mayhem, and how hard it was to do any moral things, such as complete an honest day's work as a cab driver. In fact, it is impossible to do these moral actions without first doing something immoral. Having played through a good portion of the story-line, I know that CJ is a "good" gangster who takes out the "bad" gangsters in the city. In a twisted sense, CJ is moral in his ends, as he seeks punishment for the murderers of his mother, but he is extremely immoral in his means.

    Still, as much criticism as this game receives for encouraging and rewarding immoral behavior, it seems to me that the game world is enough removed from reality to keep gamers aware that the consequences for such actions in the real world are harsh. There's just not much about Grand Theft Auto that is realistic, and while the themes presented in the game would conceivably be damaging to a you mind, the game IS rated for those 17 and older. Still, the argument can be made that because the game treats immorality so lightly, it could lead to the gamer becoming desensitized to such issues. I see where this argument comes from, I just really don't think GTA:SA is realistic enough to accomplish this.

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