pschwarz's Super Columbine Massacre RPG (PC)
| [August 17, 2009 11:17:29 AM]
| MY FINAL PLAY SESSION|
After much exposition and senseless violence, the two boys commit suicide. This occurrence is accompanied by a slideshow which shows real pictures of their bloody, lifeless bodies; all of the mourning parents and students and pictures of the then innocent boys growing up. This video game just became very real, I feel physically sick, I suppose may have Ledonne intended this. But I don’t feel sick about the skewed media coverage or any of what he was trying to prove. I instead feel sick for taking part in such a disgusting activity, one that climaxes connecting what plays out as a game, to some very real, very affected people, whose lives will never be the same. What the two boys did that day was sick and now I feel the remorse that they did not feel themselves.
In the final act of this tragic comedy, the boys find themselves in Hell where, to their delight, they battle hoards of DOOM enemies. They meet historical figures both infamous and famous who were each cast to hell by some unfairness on the part of God. They meet Confucius, Malcom X, Nietzsche, and finally Satan with whom they take their rightful place at his side. Super Columbine Massacre RPG! ends with selections of speeches given by various people at the memorial service following the shooting. Ledonne does his best to make a point about how the system is broken and the boys not at fault, but after the theoretical romp through Hell where it is made clear that these boys are in fact pure evil, it seems like even he has missed the point. Super Columbine Massacre RPG! was created to make a statement and in some aspects it does, but not the way that Ledonne intended. This game is a great example of the power of video games to illicit emotion from the player, to tell a story, and make it meaningful. However, in my opinion Ledonne fails to keep make a coherent statement and the game instead comes off as an offensive, horrifying, failure. I believe people should exercise their right to express themselves and it is good to see video games being used in the same way that books and film have done for a very long time. However there are some lines that aren’t to be crossed and when one crosses them he loses all credibility and all moral authority. Super Columbine Massacre RPG! may be disturbing, chilling, and downright offensive, but as a piece of media it has its place in history; controversy leads to discussion and sometimes all it takes is discussion to change the world.
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| [August 17, 2009 01:31:28 AM]
| MY SECOND PLAY SESSION|
Super Columbine Massacre RPG! tells the story of the tragedy of Columbine in gruesome detail, every bit of mayhem forever cast into 1’s and 0’s. But the game does more than recount history, Super Columbine Massacre RPG! also examines the psyche of the two boys responsible for the shooting at Columbine. Throughout the story, the game flashes back to the boys getting bullied or ignored and generally tries to explore the beliefs of the shooters. It is incredibly conflicting to control Eric as he prepares to commit mass murder and difficult to feel sympathy for these boys considering what they will soon do. However, Super Columbine Massacre RPG! does make you think about the situations that led to this incident, the pain that the boys felt which led them to such terrible actions. Ledonne succeeds, even on a basic level, to cause the player to put himself in Eric’s shoes and examine it from the boy’s perspective. Although this commentary could certainly be made in an article, a documentary, or other media, the fact that it is an interactive video game where the player acts as Eric Harris, communicates the message so much stronger; it’s easier (and harder) to feel sympathetic for Eric and Dylan, when you play as one of them.
The graphics of Super Columbine Massacre RPG! are highly stylized, reminiscent of popular RPG’s of the 1990’s. There is an interesting duality here, between the primitive graphics and the highly violent subject matter. Is it immoral to make one character that looks like he’s from an old Pokémon game kill another? Is it worse to make a highly detailed 3-D model in GTA IV kill another? I would postulate that the subject matter, i.e. the fact that this game is based in reality, makes Super Columbine Massacre RPG! potentially more offensive, and alarming, however morally it’s not clear. There are countless war games which are based on actual events, is it as immoral to recreate those events as these? One could argue that war is often painted as glorious but this on the other hand is despicable. A Utilitarian may disagree, saying that far many more people are killed in war and the happiness lost by those people and their families, greatly outnumbers that of the columbine victims. But there’s one more thing Super Columbine Massacre RPG! does that may affect such a judgement; when the boys gun down a schoolmate, the camera switches to first person and the scenery changes from cartoony to graphic. Danny ledonne uses actual pictures taken on the day of the shooting as scenery for the shootouts. This is a line never crossed by war games. When someone uses pictures of an actual event, they must do so responsibly or they risk causing dramatic emotional pain to someone. In this case Ledonne uses the pictures in an inappropriate, highly offensive matter. This is both morally dubious and overreaches his right to freedom of speech.
Another issue with Super Columbine Massacre RPG! is the way that the boys are portrayed. It is fair to show what led the boys to commit such atrocities, but to be one sided is to commit the same mistake that Ledonne set out to correct. He may believe that the media coverage of the event was not balanced, that perhaps no one tried to tell the story from the boys’ point of view. But to tell their side of the story without a counterpoint is just as bad as not telling it at all. No number of clever T.S. Eliot quotes can change the inherently wrong actions of the boys. And when the boys are greeted as liberators by a boy in the bathroom after he kills four other boys, is a perverted distortion which makes the boys look like heroes rather than villains.
After more than an hour playing Super Columbine Massacre RPG! my feelings are incredibly mixed. I do not feel good about enacting such horrible things, but I’m at the same time willing to suspend my judgment and give Ledonne an opportunity to prove something to me. The game has elicited emotions for me that I feel are unique to an interactive media and in this I believe he is successful. This not a game that I would choose to play myself, but I believe it is one that’s worthy of study.
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| [August 16, 2009 03:57:51 PM]
| MY FIRST PLAY SESSION|
Before this class I was only vaguely aware of the PC game Super Columbine Massacre RPG! which we had to play for our second game log. I wasn’t sure about the creator’s intentions and the name alone is enough to shock most people; clearly, this isn’t a mainstream game. I found it sickening that someone would try to capitalize on a tragedy like the shooting at Columbine and although I support each person’s freedom of speech, I felt that this may have been pushing it too far. Before loading up the game, I read a short article which describes the creation of the game and I came to understand that the creator of Super Columbine Massacre RPG! may have different intentions than I first thought. Danny ledonne, the creator of Super Columbine Massacre RPG! is not trying to capitalize on the tragedy monetarily, as the game is free and he developed it in his own free time. Furthermore, I found that Mr. Ledonne intends for the game to dismiss the media sensationalization of school shootings and instead examine the very real effects of bullying and violence on people’s lives.
Despite Ledonne’s noble intentions, I still felt uneasy about playing Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, but I began to think Ledonne wants me to feel uneasy. This is a difficult topic to explore and I think the game reflects that from the moment it begins. The story of Columbine High School is so emotionally poignant, that with even a fleeting thought of the tragedy, you can almost feel the pain of the victims and their families. Super Columbine Massacre RPG! uses these feelings to explore a different perspective; the pain of the two boys responsible. The game begins with the two boys preparing to execute their terrible plan. Set to the tune of 90’s alternative music often blamed for influencing the boys, Eric and Dylan Collect supplies that they will later use to create mayhem at their high school. The game takes not-so-subtle jabs at the mass media as it has players collect copies of the PC game Doom, accompanied by the description “let the desensitization to violence BEGIN!” and a Marilyn Manson CD which is described as being “sure to inspire impulsive aggression and rage”.
After planting bombs in the cafeteria, the pair head off to a nearby park to wait for the right moment. When the bombs fail to explode, Eric and Dylan begin to murder their classmates in the parking lot. An interesting thing happens, when the player shoots someone; the game switches to first person perspective. You are no longer detached from the happenings on screen; you are now enacting the horrors through Eric’s eyes. In order to advance the game, the player must kill defenseless people with names like “pretty girl” and “jock type”. Each murder increases your skills and your only motivation is to create chaos. My first session wrapped up here, which is good, because by this time I feel a bit sick. There is no question that what the shooters did, regardless of what led them to do it, is reprehensible and it is also clear that Danny ledonne has the right to make express his thoughts and beliefs. What’s not so clear is whether he took it too far. Ledonne uses actual events, down to the exact weapons used, and real pictures of the shooters, perhaps tastelessly, to retell a tragedy that’s still fresh in the minds of Americans, and even worse put the player in control. Sure, Super Columbine Massacre RPG! is making a point, but at what cost?
This entry has been edited 3 times. It was last edited on Aug 16th, 2009 at 19:05:01.
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