| I played this about two weeks ago and never made an entry, but have been thinking about the game, mostly because I keep getting these creeping feelings daydreaming about the shootings. I imagine games, movies, books, etc. about a specific event in time and place elicit all kinds of different responses depending on the biography of the person interacting with it. When Columbine happened, I was in high school. I remember watching news footage the day of. I remember the school intruder drills we started having. Code for a shooter in the building was that the principal would come on the intercom and tell the teachers "Teachers, please bring your red folders to the office." There were other codes for like green and yellow, but I remember those drills. It's one thing to have a practiced drill for natural disasters, but quite another feeling knowing you're preparing for the event of a rampaging person. Anyway, simply being a high school student at that time made Columbine a salient event for me. Then also being a high school student who wore baggy clothes and long hair, looked different than most kids, listened to some of the music the shooters did, all made me somewhat empathize with them. I mean, I always thought they were crazy, but I always hated how the news portrayed the kids as such products of their media consumption. I could go on and on, but this all set the tone of the game for me.
I downloaded this after having read a whole lot of entries here and having read about it various other places online. It's pretty much what I expected gameplay-wise and story-wise, but what hit me like a freight train was after you plant the bombs in the cafeteria and go wait on the hill for them to go off. The bombs don't detonate, so the two boys go into the school armed. When I entered the school and saw the students and staff walking the halls, I had this moment. Nothing in the game was happening except NPCs moving and me standing in the hallway. The only way to advance is to open fire. I thought, woah, I am supposed to kill these people. If I want to play the game, I have to kill a bunch of kids and teachers. And I thought that I didn't want to kill them, and I wonder how someone could reach that point where they walk into a school and say, yes, I want to kill all these people, and I have the means, and I'm going to do it. I mean, imagine it. There's no way I could ever think that.
So the game does a good job of showing hypothetically and from stories and journals and things snippets of the boys' everyday lives, their hanging out, their jobs, their planning, their hatred, their hobbies. This is what I felt the game did best. It brings the boys down to earth. But it can only go so far before delving into pure speculation of the insides of their heads, where it doesn't go, which is good. News media never bothered to go as far as this game did in presenting the boys. It stops at, oh, they listen to Marilyn Manson and play Doom. This is violent media. This is anti-religious media. This is evil media that corrupts our youth and causes them to shoot up their school. Simply not true. There's a really good interview he gave with Bill O'Reilly on him and his music and his outlook on his influence on people. Snoop Dogg also has a good one in that series too. The music in the game was fantastic, the 8-bit Nirvana and such. The conversation between the boys I felt was really well done. I don't know what was from journals and what was made up, but I feel like it's a hell of a lot more representative of them than any news outlet would try to be. And this goes a lot farther than just Columbine of course. The same ideas this game presents, its argument for re-evaluating claims of media influence and such, are applicable to anything else that gets blamed on media, other shootings and violent acts, teen pregnancy, drug use, ADD, all the more believable and the more bizarre correlates.
Say you blame Marilyn Manson and Nirvana and Rammstein and whatever for this violence. Really, most people aren't aware that there are a million worse things out there that anyone can easily get their hands on. I listened to some of that in high school, Korn and Limp Bizkit and Marilyn Manson and whatnot, and thought that that music was the most badass heavy stuff available. Later I discovered all kinds of metal and hardcore music, and now I listen to a lot of black metal, a lot of which is satanic and certainly anti-religious, and other death metal or grindcore which is over-the-top violent and disgusting. That stuff doesn't get on the radio and so people aren't aware of it! While the news is busy talking about how bad Nine Inch Nails were (I remember this segment) saying "I want to fuck you like an animal," Cannibal Corpse was and is talking about necrophilia and other seriously messed up stuff. Which is worse? Is either one even bad? Is it okay to sing about this stuff? Does it corrupt youth? What does that even mean? This is one thing I think about whenever I hear someone railing on Marilyn Manson or whoever on the radio, and I think about how ignorant that person probably is of the vastness of media.
I'm glad this game was made. I don't find it insensitive. I find it a useful entrant into the conversation of media effects and violence in particular, angry youth, religion, gun control, all kinds of stuff that people should be thinking about. Think about how this game could be an argument for gun control laws. Those two boys have all the power because they have weapons. This is reflected in the battles that are so easy. You just blast your way up and down the halls. The jocks don't have a chance, the teachers don't have a chance, and the religious kids just pray. You can read about how the boys acquired all their weapons, and if you should think that's problematic. No one should be able to acquire and stockpile weapons like that. What need? Manson has a part in some interview, I can't remember which one, where someone asks him what he would have said to the Columbine shooters. He says something like "I wouldn't have said anything. I would have listened to them because that seems like the problem. No one listened to them."
Super Columbine Massacre is not a great game, but I find it important nonetheless. I quit playing after I got to the hell level because it actually got hard. The end.
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