SeppukuHC's Super Columbine Massacre RPG (PC)
| [November 4, 2008 08:39:22 PM]
| As the killing progresses, the game takes moments to show flashbacks sparked by items interacted with. This seems to take the player back to the originally goal of the game, explaining the whys of this whole tragedy. The game seems to redeem itself in these flashback moments. It makes a lot of ethically responsible statements about the harms of bullying on a persons emotional stability and psyche. It reminds us that these kids were not monsters so much as they were simply mentally broken and unstable. As much as you hate the protagonists, you feel bad for them. The fact that the corpses remain does a good deal for reminding you after any battle that these were people and that they aren't coming back but they also aren't going away so you can forget them.
Then a surprising thing happens. They decide it's over and time to end things. You are prompted with an option to either end it or continue killing senselessly. This struck me. I wondered if I had to kill all those people I did, if I could have just gone to the library after pipe bombing the cafeteria and avoided killing anyone but myself. This is very significant because with a few exceptions in order to get items needed for cutscenes, you could complete this game without murdering anyone. It doesn't force you to kill anyone to complete it. In this moment it makes the change from a tasteless game to a social statement. It was entirely up to you to experience that carnage or to change history. You the player made yourself into the monsters, and you realize this.
Last the game puts your character in hell and levels the playing field. At first it would seem that this is a last ditch effort to condemn their actions, however it soon becomes apparent that at this point the game returns to glorifying their actions again. It pegs them as anti-heroes and warriors of natural selection in hell. At this point I stopping playing and watched a video of the last half hour of the game. It continues putting the characters in this light until a final cutscene where the futility of trying to explain these things takes the forefront of the games message.
While this ending makes for a more challenging and compelling game, as a social and political message the story would have been better suited ending after the suicides. The slide show presented at that point makes a clear message of pain caused from everything. It's a message of responsibility for ones actions. It speaks of the pain caused by these murders and the pain caused by the bullying these kids endured. I feel like this game had a good heart. There was a good idea behind making it. However, its ethics are hazy. Do you take the stance that goodness is goodwill? Or that results speak more of an action? If you take the latter then there is a lack of moral responsibility in releasing this game before it's message is perfected in a way that cannot be misinterpreted to do harm.
add a comment
| [November 4, 2008 08:07:14 PM]
| There is a delusion of grandeur and greatness in this portion of the game. The characters speak of natural selection and revolution. There is talk of how their victims deserve it and how this is an action of retribution. I find it difficult to see redeeming qualities in this. While it may be an added attempt to explain the thought process of the killers, it comes off immoral as glorifying these mass murderers.
The player has in their inventory two support items. Despite the context, I can't help but find an amusement in these items, as they are clear mockeries of the media's unethical exploitation of this event. One is a Marlyn Manson CD. They make a point to note how the kid never actually listened to him, none-the-less it is included as “inspiration” to mirror the media's delusion of Columbine. It seems the intended reaction to this would be to question why the protagonist owns this if he doesn't like it, to force a realization that he didn't own the CD or find inspiration in it. It also notes lyrics of an atheist nature to imply that this is what made him a scapegoat. Doom is also included, who's only significance is that it's a “gory first person shooter.”
As I play through this part of the game killing my classmates, I find myself noticing that my fellow classmates do not receive names or identities. They are defined by their clique or stereotype including what would seem a fairly offensive depiction of gays. While this would seem to be an attempt to place you into the minds of these two who see people only as the clique they belong to, it also tends to dehumanize your enemies making them easier to kill. It is a morally ambiguous if not partially immoral decision on the design. Some of my guiltiest moments where when I killed Nerdy Girls and received boxes of anti-depressants from them. While the game makes an effort to peg the “jocks” as villains making them the primary threat to your safety, these depressed girls are victims in every facet of their lives.
add a comment
| [November 4, 2008 06:06:34 PM]
| Super Columbine Massacre is an RPG based on the day of the Columbine school massacre. As the name would imply there is a definite element of satire present in this game. One of the biggest things in question though is whether this satire is tasteless or morally insincere given the subject. Right off the bat, the game presents us with a mixed bag of satire. The splash page displays a surveillance photo often replayed by the media of the two killers. Meanwhile, it plays a midi of a Marlyn Manson song. The use of this song seems to be a tongue in cheek statement about the media's jump to blame that artist for this whole fiasco. At the same time the surveillance photo gives a somber feel and prevents the player from finding amusement in the song choice. I am torn on this. One one hand it seems more responsible to present the reality with the message to keep things from taking a bias tone. On the other hand, if you're trying to present a message this seems to cloud it it by throwing controversy in your face.
In this first portion of the game, I was not asked to kill anyone, and it seemed an enlightening and morally responsible experience. Rather than throwing the player into the action and controversy, the game makes an earnest attempt to understand the actions of these kids. At least a better attempt in 30 minutes than the whole of five straight days of 24-hour news media coverage. While the explanation is often biased to what the creator assumes is responsible, it is never thrown at the player. Never is it stated, this is why they did it. Instead, they show the full spectrum of factors. There is much mention of the rich in Colorado assuming that perhaps there is a spark of class warfare in these actions. A great deal of focus is also placed on the one shooter's anti-depressants and their involvement in his not making it into the marines. Implying he gave up on life when he failed to reach his dream and to live up to his father's expectations. In a final moment of moral responsibility, they include the issues they're trying to defend allowing the player to assess them as well. They show the violent KMFDM lyrics and remind the player of Doom's place in the shooter's lives. All in all the first portion surprised me and proved fairly responsible from an ethical standpoint.
add a comment