Tuesday, January 09, 2007

manner of expression

I've noticed a lot of folks commenting on the hullabaloo surrounding the Columbine game. Of course, most of what I've read is people saying that the game is at least respectable for its willingness to ask the hard questions. I'm still out-of-town, and I'm not all that interested anyway, so I haven't tried out the game yet. But I would like to make a general comment about situations like this, if not this specific situation.

It's not only what you say that matters, but how you say it. There's a reason we don't accept the comments of young kids until they say them respectfully (without yelling, abrasive language, insults, etc). There is no reason we shouldn't maintain expectations of respect with adults. The manner in which actions are performed has an impact, and it is the responsibility of all individuals to attempt to maintain the most thoughtful and peaceful manner possible.

Peace without justice and truth is not a good thing. It is sometimes necessary to be loud or rough to force witness to reality and responsibility. This doesn't seem to be one of those times.

In a case like the Columbine shooting or a similar atrocity, a confrontational manner is not necessary to make such a breakthrough. If the game designers truly wanted thoughtful consideration of the influences upon the killers and their motives, then the most effective avenue of approach would have been to begin sympathetically with the designers' opposition and make the explorative journey together. Any playing out of the actual shooting would be counter-productive (I don't know if the game includes such a phase).

In any case, many things for which censorship calls are made are rightfully censored...not because the message is impermissable, but because the manner in which the message is delivered is immature and needlessly disruptive or aggressive. Concern for others can and should be expected from all, individuals and companies alike.

It's easy to tell when confrontation is genuinely aimed at coming together and when it's just childish, hopeless confrontation.


  1. OT but I just visited the Vanguard site and saw your pm lol. Yes I'm the same Raguel from ZoD. I also use it on F13, Raph's website, Broken Toys and some others.

  2. Cameron Sorden1/10/07, 7:30 AM

    I played SCMRPG when I first read about it, mostly because I was intrigued as to what exactly it was and how it was presented. The author clearly intended to provide some insight into why the killers did what they did, but my overall impression of it was that it would have been much better as a book, essay, or short film. The reason for this is that the implementation of the game aspects was, frankly, awful.

    You go through the school fighting turn-based battles against groups of high-school stereotypes (Jock Guy, Nerdy Girl) that can't fight back against you at all, using skills like "Pipe Bomb" and "Shotgun". It's this impersonal battle aspect which trivializes a very real tragedy. There was no need to make the player kill over one hundred generic archetypes that can't even present a meaningful challenge. Other than those battles, the challenges are straightforward, linear, and the whole thing generally plays like a semi-interactive movie where most of your choices are restricted (beyond what weapons to use as you kill people).

    The second half of the game takes place in hell, but the gameplay at this point becomes so difficult (the battles suddenly leap up in difficulty) that most players would get frustrated and quit. I'm told that you can find a mount which allows you to fly across hell, and that there is some meaningful discussion with historical figures, but again, I get the very strong impression that the author would have been better served by making a short film or story. If the first half of your game is so easy that there's no challenge and so linear that you have to follow a specific story, and the second half is so hard that there's a built-in mechanism to skip it, why are you even making it a game? Answer: Because you want to create controversy. Whether that's true or not, it certainly has.

  3. Thanks for the summary.


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