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'Columbine RPG' Creator Discusses the Dawson Shooting 127

Posted by Zonk
from the touchy-culture dept.
Back in May, Brian Crecente of Kotaku and the Rocky Mountain News had a chat with the maker of the 'Columbine RPG'. Today, he talks again with game-maker Danny LeDonne about possible connections between his game and the Dawson shooting. From the article: "My very first reaction, frankly, was to head to my toilet bowl and throw up. I knew what was in the works and I knew the next week would be spent keeping my head above water while the press tried to bury me with guilt-laden questions and implications of complicity in murder. I also knew that this was no time to fold or get weak-kneed. I made a game. I believed in it. Now it was time to defend it. No one would do that except me."
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'Columbine RPG' Creator Discusses the Dawson Shooting

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  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:29PM (#16148843) Homepage
    I imagine this could happen to anybody who develops games based on historical events, than enact violence. I'm sure there's WWII games where you played on the German side. There's always video games where you play the bad guy. He shouldn't feel guilty because someone who enjoyed playing his game was also crazy. Maybe it's what pushed him over the edge, maybe it's not. I highly suspect that this kid was really messed up even before played the game.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MrTester (860336)
      I agree. I think the Columbine RPG is completely tastless and would never touch it even though I love games.
      However, I support the developers right to create trash and the consumers right to buy it. On top of that, not for a second do I think that the game is what caused someone to go and act out. It like saying that allowing people to drive teaches them to be drunk drivers. Ok, its not a perfect annalogy, but Im in a hurry. Sue me.
    • there is a PlayStation 2, Xbox and PlayStation Portable (PSP) game World Trade Center video game being made http://www.defunctgames.com/shows.php?id=scrapbook -40 [defunctgames.com]

      aslo check out this flash game http://weeklies.sordeo.com/games/wtcdefender.html [sordeo.com]
    • by Das Modell (969371) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:50PM (#16148997)
      This is a non-issue. The game's designer is in no way responsible for what some whackjob does. No point in even discussing about it.
    • by kabocox (199019) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:02PM (#16149091)
      I imagine this could happen to anybody who develops games based on historical events, than enact violence. I'm sure there's WWII games where you played on the German side. There's always video games where you play the bad guy. He shouldn't feel guilty because someone who enjoyed playing his game was also crazy. Maybe it's what pushed him over the edge, maybe it's not. I highly suspect that this kid was really messed up even before played the game.

      Let's be honest: We don't have accurate games. I love WWII games as much as the next guy, but I don't recall a single one where you were an SS officer incharge or part of running a Nazi death camp. I recall some of Japanese airplane games of WWII of them bombing Pearl Harbor. Any air plane bombing game should be fairly ok. We don't have war sims that show what really happened when your army captured an enemies city/village/town. We have the burning and occasionally we do have looting in games. I have, yet to see Civ, Age of Empires or any other game do the full rape, pillage, and burn rountine. Let's face it; our games are much cleaner than they could be. I personally don't like shooters because I'm not good at them. They aren't really meant to have a story other than hey I need a somewhat morally good excuse to shoot everyone in front me. I'd say games like Wolf3D and Doom where you are shooting genetically modified humans, or aliens/demons gave the player moral absolution from slaughtering everything in their path. If I picked up a school shooter and it was modded to use us my classmates from highschool and the teachers, I'd have a very difficult time just randomly shooting people that pissed me off before the police came and gave me a head shoot. That game wouldn't be very fun for me. Now a game where I get to play with the drill team or cheerleaders or just Sim Drill Team with lots of bouncy 15-18 year old girls I could see outselling Mario. I may have had off days, but I never had that kind of downward spiral or wanted to go through it. Now, I could see a really well done RPG with extensive plot and background with 50-60 hours of play and the climax ending is the player breaking killing relatively random main or supporting characters. Actually, the more that I think about it the more that it seems like really good RPG material if done right. The problem is every RPG that I've played has some from of leveling and I don't see how a school shooting based RPG would have that phase. A mainly social interaction RPG with your character breaking and going crazy does sound like an interesting twist.
      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        The problem is every RPG that I've played has some from of leveling and I don't see how a school shooting based RPG would have that phase.

        You start by clobbering your fellow kindergardeners over the head with wooden blocks & then work your way up from there.

        Kindergarden: wooden blocks
        Lower School: jab them to death with safety scissors
        Middle School: dodge ball to the head
        High School: 12345 is the combo for the gun safe
        College: take chem 101 & start blowing things up
        Grad School: alcohol poisoning
        Midd

      • by dasunt (249686)

        I've played Battlefield: 1942, and the game has "names" of each soldier.

        It is rather disturbing to be aiming at someone with a name.

      • I love WWII games as much as the next guy, but I don't recall a single one where you were an SS officer incharge or part of running a Nazi death camp.
        Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be anything forbidding enough that some perverted minds don't abuse it for their own amusement/propaganda. German neonazis did such a ... i dare to say "game" ... back in the mid 80s. :-(
      • Search for "lidice" and "game" and you got your "realistic" ww2 game were you play the nazi's in a masacre. This is the internet. Everything you can imagine has already been done.
        • by kabocox (199019)
          Search for "lidice" and "game" and you got your "realistic" ww2 game were you play the nazi's in a masacre. This is the internet. Everything you can imagine has already been done.

          Um, not yet. I can imagine a Civ/Age of Empires game where the main focus of the warfare was the rape, pillage, and burning. Let's call it "Bad things Humans Do." Adult-Only or Mature Only. I'd also love to see Civ with really different culture outlooks. Like coup warfare, raiding neighboring villages for wives, enslaving or discr
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ultranova (717540)

        I love WWII games as much as the next guy, but I don't recall a single one where you were an SS officer incharge or part of running a Nazi death camp.

        Well, what store would carry it ? Besides, you can allready turn Sims into death camp simulation if you wish, so there's no need of it...

        We don't have war sims that show what really happened when your army captured an enemies city/village/town. We have the burning and occasionally we do have looting in games. I have, yet to see Civ, Age of Empires or an

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mgabrys_sf (951552)
        Here's one with a link:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KZ_manager [wikipedia.org]

        There was one back in the 80s - so that would be two games. At least.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)
      I'm sure there's WWII games where you played on the German side.

      Name one. Just one.

      More importantly, name one where you are role-playing the Gestapo interrogator or the SS officer in the Death Camps.
      "Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS" does not count.

      There's always video games where you play the bad guy.

      Usually at some "safe" psychological distance from your own situation. The closer you get to reality the more deeply you enter into territory where a clinical psychiatrist using role-playing techniques would be v

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EmperorKagato (689705) *
        Have you played the game? Have you bothered to see the screenshots?

        We expect a psychoactive drug to be tested for safety before it is sold. When something appears to have gone seriously wrong we expect the product to be taken off then shelves until the problem is fixed.

        What's wrong with the game? Is it buggy? Do you get stuck in certain areas? Does it cause your computer to restart?

        Name one. Just one. (WWII German side games)
        Battle Field

        More importantly, name one where you are role-playing the
        • by westlake (615356)
          What's wrong with the game? Is it buggy? Do you get stuck in certain areas? Does it cause your computer to restart?

          these are not the questions the families of Columbine and Dawson are asking.

      • Here's your Gestapo pleasure:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KZ_manager [wikipedia.org]

        Enjoy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by werewolf1031 (869837)

        I'm sure there's WWII games where you played on the German side.

        Name one. Just one.

        Panzer General, dammit! My God, how young ARE you people that you've forgotten one of the most highly praised (and damned entertaining) WWII games of the early 90's? And IIRC, if you executed your strategy well, you even had a chance to invade Washington DC by war's end. If that doesn't qualify to be among "WWII games where you played on the German side" then nothing does.

  • Shouldn't they blame the music of GWAR for the shootings, too?

    Happy Death-Day to Columbine!
    Let's make the world an Oklahoma City, fine.
    Wacky-Waco Happy Death Day, babies that were burned
    The Wheel has turned!

    Why can't society just accept that some (all?) humans are prone to violence, and that video games aren't murder simulators that teach you how to shoot a gun. Society as a whole is just teaching irresponsibility: let's just blame someone else, my son/daughter would never do that, it must've been
  • I didn't even know there had been a shooting
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Which is really weird, because I saw it on a couple US networks (i'm assuming your in the US). NBC had it on the news. US Networks usually jump on news like this. Of course your going to correct me and tell me that you live in Montreal, which would be kind of sad.
      • I also didn't know about the shooting. I live in the US, but have given up on the network news because I find that I get more relavent information by reading between the jokes on the daily show.
        • by Saedrael (880381)
          Translation: I don't watch the news; odd that I don't know about current events.

          Hmmm...
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      Thats because you didn't read in between the lines of the news stories. The press release covered in america read like this.

      Karma be damed:
      Dateline montreal:

      President bushed fucked up again, _Someone went on a shooting rampage_,

      Global warming will destroy the world in twenty years, _at dawson colledge_,

      Scientist have proven beyond a shadow of doubt that evil corupt republicans are behind global warming, _Police nutralized the gunman after 20 people injured_,

      Bush lied people died. _11 people were adminted to
  • This is by far the best interview I've seen on the subject, although I'm sure I missed some. He really represents himself well here. As a humorous aside, reading the interview made me glad I didn't play the game - specifically because it contains "maudlin smashing pumpkin midis" and if I had to sit there and listen to that I might really kill someone.
  • The guy didn't make these kids pick up the gun. However, you have to admit, that game was in very, VERY poor taste, and I question the integrity of the guy who made it. Hell, even I think so, and I love all kinds of horrid, tasteless humor. Like I said, he's not responsible for it, but geez, it's only a matter of time before Jack Thompson finds someone to sue him.
    • Having never played the game, I can't comment too much. However, from reading the article, I get the idea that there is a message in his game that isn't exactly supporting school shootings. I would guess (as he does) that most people miss his message. From what I can gather, the message is more something about "games don't cause violence" or maybe more generically, media doesn't. In any case, the point of the game was certainly not to glorify the events at columbine.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by FLEB (312391)
        I went through the first half of the game (then, to be honest, it got a bit tedious), but I found that the (attempted, reasonably successfully) value in it was something like an in-depth report with a little more personal involvement. It's kind of like the 9/11 Commission Report graphic novel... it applied a different medium to a popularily underunderstood event to give insight that might not be normally taken.

        Do I think it could have been done better-- sure, in quite a few ways, but this for being the firs
    • by Elsimer (126214)
      Did you RTFA? The game isn't a first person shooter, and is "from the title on, a satire. It is a satire of how the media came to view the shooting but ALSO a satire on the conventions of video gaming itself. I wanted to deconstruct what a video
      game could be about while still using many of the conventions available in gaming. This is difficult for some to understand insomuch as the event itself was tragic and painful for so many people but I believe true satire can be aimed at even the most uncomfortable of
    • "Hell,even I think so, and I love all kinds of horrid, tasteless humor."

      Well, obviously not all kinds.

      Also, isn't it great when people that do like 'horrid, tasteless' stuff decide that they are now the judge of what is in poor taste and what isn't?

      So when something come along that they finally find to be in bad taste, 'you have to admit' that he is right, because, you know, he knows because he likes that sort of shit, so he should know. Just think of the times that you've laughed at something that
  • What a creep (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:39PM (#16148914) Journal
    I doubt there's the slightest possibility that the shooting wouldn't have happened with or without this guy's game but -- ughh, what a self-absorbed, pompous, whiny creep he is. Somebody plays his game and then goes and shoots up his school, and all Danny LeDonne can do is cry about how hard this has made life for Danny LeDonne and spray about what a hero he is.
  • by arivanov (12034) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:40PM (#16148920) Homepage
    The ad on slashdot for this article shows some incoming release from the Grand Theft Auto franchise for PSP. So we may not match violence to computer games and vice versa but google ads (or whatever broker Slashdot uses today) surely do. Quite entertaining actually.
    • by Big_Al_B (743369)
      So we may not match violence to computer games and vice versa but google ads (or whatever broker Slashdot uses today) surely do

      Or perhaps ads are simply targeted within each Slashdot news section?

    • by joe 155 (937621)
      You mean you actually see the ads?... you really need Adblock
  • Even though making games about this kind of thing may be unique, original, or heck even fun - it's plain bad taste. Making the game is glorifying the horrible real event whatever the authors or more so, the players say. There is something that seperates this from games like Resident Evil, or Grand Theft Auto. The 'real' element. Playing GTA:SA for example, it would be fine to be thinking "I'm gonna go cap some balla ass now!" because it's an ambiguous target in a ficticious enviroment.

    Playing the C
    • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:58PM (#16149059)
      Playing the Columbine RPG, any such sentiment would be creepy and morally wrong. "Yeah! That'll teach those innocent students!" I don't know the actual plot of the game, but I can't imagine it is as detached as playing a gangster, soldier or pilot etc.

      Ah, you subscribe to the "if you think it, you did it" system of morality. Does it work the other way around? If I daydream about helping out in a soup kitchen or giving clothes to the salvation army it earns me brownie points with my local magic sky diety?
      • It's an interesting, but shallow point. I'm sure the GP understands that you can't punish someone for their thoughts. But there's a dangerous path to be followed when you put an idea in someone's head and give an avenue for repeated re-inforcement of that idea. You'd be stupid to argue that someone's actions didn't originate with a thought.

        The argument I'm hearing is that, if you're of a sane mind, then it's ok to play degenerate games that desensitize the reaction to violence and horror as long as you d
      • by Who235 (959706)
        5 is just not enough points for a post that good.

      • by westlake (615356)
        Ah, you subscribe to the "if you think it, you did it" system of morality. Does it work the other way around? If I daydream about helping out in a soup kitchen or giving clothes to the salvation army it earns me brownie points with my local magic sky diety?

        Maybe it does. If it points you in the right direction. But you are evading the issue. Super Columbine Massacre RPG! became more than a daydream for the shooter. It became an obsession.

        It is not out of bounds to ask what there is in the social context

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)
        If you think about putting a cartoon cat in a mincer, its funny. If you think about putting a real cat in a mincer, its sick.

        Its nothing to do with the distinction between thinking about things, and doing them - but all about the context with which you think within your head.
        • That's a nice comprimise, but it falls apart when you get to extremes in the spectrum.

          For example, a pedo might say "it's okay for me to fantasize about (insert depraved sexual encounter here) as long as I know it's only a fantasy." However, the vast majority of US citizens would want this person executed for doing so.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Although I can't comment on your opinion of taste, I disagree with your statement that the other students were innocent. The Columbine incident seemed like a normal highschool occurrence, where the jocks and the cool kids pick on the losers, with no intervention from the teachers and staff. In this case though, the losers were armed.
      I certainly don't condone the actions, but I can understand the feelings that caused them.
    • by Kyrka (20144)
      Well... much like beauty, the situation is in the eye of the beholder.

      Imagine, if you can, playing this game yourself for fifteen minutes. I expect the reactions are quite binary. Either a.) You're human enough to be absolutely repulsed by it, and join the author at the toilet bowl - or - b.) you turn out to be a sick, twisted, demented fuck and actually have a good time playing.

      Whether you are one, or the other, is of no consequence to the author... I'm sure you can see my point. Lemme guess, we're

      • by giorgiofr (887762)
        How about c) you read about it on /., play it for a bit, find it a poorly written but certainly controversial game, and pass on because you don't have any strong feelings about it?
  • Well, if he never made this game then we would live in another universe that did not have this game and all of humanity would be different. The shooting may never have happened in that universe. But then again, maybe I caused it when I stepped on the beetle last year. Damn it, I'm a murderer!
  • Listen, when I created RapeHer v1, I think people misunderstood what I was going for. I didn't create this video game to give people the experience of what its like to rape a woman, to feel her panic beneath you as dominate and violate her in a customizable number of ways thanks to my own CreateAHole feature. I created the game to create an open discussion of rape in a civilized society. Anyone who takes anything away from it but that is missing my point entirely.

    Look... I don't care that he created t
    • Re:My own game (Score:5, Informative)

      by Enoxice (993945) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:24PM (#16149322) Journal
      Have you played the game? Have you seen screenshots of the game? It is in no way, other than in a literal sense, a graphic presentation of murder. For God's sake, it looks like Pokemon! And from what I hear, it really does examine the event, and not just tosses you in and says "kill as many people as you can for no reason muahahahaha!"
  • Either 'art' makes a difference to people or it doesn't.

    Either it is a light froth which doesn't have an effect on people's behavior (good or bad).

    Or it influences people.

    ---

    I think in the 50's psycho boy would be made- maybe get into a fist fight. But since he hadn't seen how to blow people away, that is as far as it goes. I think people who are prone to bad things find ways to express themselves when they see a demonstration of how to do it.

    I think some people who would be okay are corrupted by things t
    • Uh what? I'm pretty sure there were plenty of movies with guns in the 50s. WWII movies and Cowboys and Indians for sure. Maybe it was portrayed differently but they didn't use pointy sticks in those movies (well, maybe the Indians).
    • by skorch (906936)

      Either 'art' makes a difference to people or it doesn't. Either it is a light froth which doesn't have an effect on people's behavior (good or bad). Or it influences people. --- I think in the 50's psycho boy would be made- maybe get into a fist fight. But since he hadn't seen how to blow people away, that is as far as it goes. I think people who are prone to bad things find ways to express themselves when they see a demonstration of how to do it. I think some people who would be okay are corrupted by

  • by Captain Sarcastic (109765) * on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:47PM (#16149526)
    I read the interview, and the primary thrust of the questions and answers seemed to be:


    Q: Do you think you'll get in trouble for your game?
    A: I shouldn't - it's art, for crying out loud!


    Now, I don't think tastelessness is criminal. Otherwise, the creators of the HTML "Blink" tag would've been behind bars some time back. I also think that the author's cries of "Nobody understands why I made this game" necessarily makes him an artist.

    Therefore, I can only say that if anyone is trying to blame him for the Dawson shooting, they are making a very long and very awkward reach for a suitable scapegoat.
    • by DoninIN (115418)
      This killer, like nearly 100% of murderes has been exposed to the toxic chemical Di-hydrogen monoxide. Why can't we get this stuff banned?
      Seriously, Cart=Game Killer=Horse, a person contemplating or depressed or distressed enough to be ready for the murderous rampage seems very likely to give the Columbine game a try, I'll be he saw the movie "heathers" at some point in his life, hell why not blame Howard Stern? He probably listened to Howard at least once, let's put him in prison for this attrocity along
  • by Frogbert (589961) <frogbertNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:46PM (#16149977)
    There have been many people above me claiming that the game is in bad taste and that its creator is a dick. Please before you go shooting your mouth off please download and actually play the game through. It is not only a work of satire, its an obvious one at that.

    It's not as blatent as Southpark's satire typically is, but it is there and anyone over the age of 13 should be able to see it.

    I'd liken it to Gullivers Travels, you read that book when you are young and think, "hmm great story". A few years later you come away thinking "Perhaps that book was about England".
  • Dunno if you all heard about it but in Green Bay, Wisconsin there were several HEAVILY armed kids that were going to pretty much destroy one of the high schools. They had high yield homemade bombs and a napalm-like substance to block off exits and a lot of serious firepower. Good thing they were stupid enough to tell their friends about their plans and stuff (and yet smart enough to build bombs? Yeah, now I feel safe)

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