Friday 14 August, 2009
On April 20, 1999, two high school students’ meticulous planning resulted in what they believed would be their last blaze of glory: a gun massacre/suicide vengeance against the adolescent social mainstream cultures that shunned and ridiculed them. In the small town of Columbine, Colorado, students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold achieved the notoriety they craved– they bombed their school, Columbine High School, randomly shooting students and faculty with firearms they purchased (under-aged). Six years later on April 20, 2005, the Super Columbine Massacre RPG! was released. The game is a recreation of the inspirations (the events in Harris’s and Klebold’s lives that pushed them over the edge, including being heavily bullied in school), planning, and execution of the massacre, all from the killers’ perspectives. It includes real-life photos of the school and the boys taken from the media’s coverage of the tragedy and from the internet, and the RPG incorporates some of the actual dialogue Harris and Klebold said from videos and documents the two created. The media itself has a role: broadcast news coverage is interpolated in parts of the RPG.
I felt a nervous anticipation as I first booted up the game, due to its topic and basic premise. By playing this game, I would be re-enacting an actual disaster: I would directly control Harris and Klebold, and bring about the Columbine High School massacre, while experiencing flashbacks of their personal experiences, whether anguished or nonchalant, dull or disturbing. I can understand the why there are controversies about the game’s existence. Does the game enlightening those who slog through its eerie faithfulness to the Columbine horror, or does it trivialize the pain it caused?
In other words, is it ethical for Super Columbine Massacre RPG! to depict the actual massacre because it really happened? Does the reality of the game’s storyline automatically make it unethical to be used for a videogame?
As a gamer, I know that in order to beat Super Columbine I have to do what the plot requires. As a person with a conscience, however, I’m disturbed by the plot itself precisely because it recreates a true story, and if I want to experience the whole story I have to put myself in the boys’ shoes. As I delve more into the game, I hope to come to my own conclusions about its ethics.
Do you have a similar experience when you play, say, a World War II themed first person shooter? Many scenarios in these kinds of games are based on historical battles (ex: D-Day). How is the experience different, and why?
Wednesday 19 August, 2009 by jp