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    Feb 22nd, 2009 at 17:20:27     -    Super Columbine Massaacre (Web)

    The overall gameplay of SCMRPG! is an odd mix of 16-bit graphics and the use of digital photographs for the characters and actual pictures of the school for backdrops during the battle sequences (where you fight Jocks, Janitors, all the stereotypical social castes of students). Most of the people at school don't put up much of a fight because Eric and Dylan are armed with guns, but there are a variety of hand to hand weapons available to use as well. Apparently their armament selection is heavily based on what the shooters actually used in the killing spree, however unlike the actual shooting, the player doesn't have to stop at 13 if they feel like power leveling in the next, far more surreal section of the game. After the double suicide the player is treated a montage of clips featuring their corpses, students comforting each other and then a few childhood photos of the school shooters which leaves the player to ponder "what the hell went so wrong?" if the flashbacks weren't enough to answer the question.

    Post-death takes place in a fantasy world where Eric and Dylan get to live out an RPG rendition of their favorite game: Doom. One could infer that this fixation on a fantasy world could have lead to such a corruption of their minds that killing is the answer to all life's problems, but I'm not Jack Thompson so I won't automatically peg that as the sole reason. The Isle of Lost Souls is rife with symbolism, fictional characters (like Pikachu) and real life personalities such as Malcolm X and John Lennon. The last collection quest of the game is to deliver a copy of "Ecce Homo" to Friedrich Nietzsche just before fighting Satan. This is especially significant since that book was Nietzsche's egotistical critique of his works and why he wrote what he did, reflecting Eric and Dylan's idea that this shooting was the greatest event of their lives. It should also be noted that "Ecce Homo" was Nietzsche's last work before his descent into madness.

    After defeating Satan, he congratulates the pair on their evil deeds, giving an oddly happy ending for the two. Although they show scenes from the Columbine Press Conference afterwords I was hoping the developer would take time to show the afterlife plight of the victims, possibly even switching perspectives from Eric and Dylan to the slain students and maybe even a final RPG battle to the tune of FFVI's "Dancing Mad" where you select a party of four students to fight Eric, Dylan and Satan.

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    Feb 22nd, 2009 at 16:59:07     -    Super Columbine Massaacre (Web)

    The games soundtrack was an interesting point of examination and critique for me. It mostly features popular industrial and post grunge bands on the day such as Nirvana ("Smells Like Teen Spirit" is played on Eric's stereo when examined), Radiohead, KMFDM, Marilyn Manson, Rammstein and Smashing Pumpkins. Some of the songs were from bands the character's actually liked and set the grim tone quite well for the school shooting. Notably, lyrics from KMFDM's "Son of a Gun" are displayed as the two ride to school and it appears that the two championed the song's ethos for anarchy. The claim is that an anarchic state is where everyone is equal by the rule of a gun, and rejects the established order, which through flashbacks shows the pair getting thoroughly screwed by thanks to common high school bullying of the nerdy kids.

    At the risk of sending up some red flags, I can actually relate to these guys fairly well on the bullying aspect and a fascination with the macabre. The difference, however, is that they just let these obstacles in life get to them too much and spent far too much time seething over it and plotting out retribution. I decided to join my theater troupe where I found a community of fellow outcasts and ended up liking life a great deal. Someone get these guys a Dungeons and Dragons club or something. The remainder of the soundtrack (especially Marilyn Manson) could be an attempt at satire on the part of the developer, since the ensuing press conferences tried to blame the event on shock rock instead of looking at the heart of the issue, which is these kids having too much time to brood after getting picked on in school.

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    Feb 22nd, 2009 at 16:16:53     -    Super Columbine Massaacre (Web)

    So since my last post got deleted for some unknown reason I'm gonna have to start from scratch. The beginning portions of Super Columbine Massacre take place in the protagonist's, Eric/Reb (?) house. The first thing I did was hit up Eric's partner in crime, Dylan/Vodka who said that he was coming over after Eric gathered all the materials (read, bombs). After looking through some of Eric's favorite things (Doom, Nirvana, anti-depressants that barred him from the Marines and KMFDM, angsty violence ahoy!) I proceeded to the basement to find a deeper look at the characters' psyches, but not before seeing a nice in-game joke about Marilyn Manson will be blamed for this despite the characters not liking his music. A flashback after examining a pizza box shows the pair experimenting with high explosives probably about a year or two ago. Eric was doing well in his job, being promoted in it and planning to join the Marine's to not let his Air Force vet father down.

    I couldn't identify which movie was in the TV, but it seemed to sum up the ethos of the two main characters in that the best soldier isn't a complete nihilist, but he uses the love of his family and friends to give him the drive to kill without compassion or remorse...seems only slightly messed up, but we're talking Columbine here. That scene is punctuated by the pair's final video recording, which they're doing for posterity since this is "the greatest event of their lives". It's interesting to note that despite Dylan's insistence that this is payback for all that the duo have been through in the past four years, Eric expresses a sincere wish that none of his family and friends come under fire for what they're about to do. He even says that his parents are the best ever, or something to that effect. To be honest, these guys don't seem that bad, pre-killing, it makes me wonder why they feel its such a necessary duty that they blow up the school.

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    Jan 21st, 2009 at 11:46:46     -    Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (PS2)

    For my final entry I decided to start by gauging the game's AI and what type of message it sent out. To do this I used the tried and true tactic of "lets see what happens when I shoot innocent bystanders in the head, in broad daylight, on a crowded street". In affluent commercial areas the most common effect my killing spree had was that everybody panicked and ran for their lives, which was a poor move since I was in a Jeep at the time. More to the point, I needed to vacate the premises quickly since waiting around would make CJ have to deal with scads of police officers. Although the wealthier citizens of San Andreas ran for their lives, this wasn't true of all citizens. Under bridges, one can sometimes find gang members hanging out and doing what they do best: loitering. If there's one law that must be followed in San Andreas, its no loitering, and the penalty is death. Taking out my shotgun, I blasted one of the members in the chest assuming the others would run. Instead, the gang members opened fire with weapons of their own and while it didn't save them it did knock off a good chunk of my health. It's comforting to know that the game's AI counts for both the flight and fight survival mechanism.

    That last paragraph touched upon stereotypes ever so slightly in the sense that gang members shoot back but most ordinary citizens don't. After a bit more rampaging in the game I found a few other notable stereotypes. First, the women that you talk to most often are dumb as rocks, granted its mostly just CJs girlfriend and the hookers he's pimping out, but c'mon Rockstar, can't we at least have one ho thats saving up for med school? Second, the police response time is significantly longer in the more dilapidated areas of the city, which sounds like a great place to wreck some havoc, however the Hispanic and African-American dominated 'hoods have a much higher likelihood that bystanders will be carrying weapons and will shoot back if you get up in their grill.

    I can't believed I managed to get through three entries without stating the obvious moral deficiency that the best way to get ahead in the game is to kill people, take their money and steal cars.

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