Extra Consideration

Extra Consideration
The School Shooter Mod, Part 2

Extra Consideration | 23 May 2011 19:30
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Last week our contributors took aim at The School Shooter Mod, trying to determine whether it was the product of a disturbed mind or brilliant statement on the power of the videogame medium. Whether it's worth attention or deserves to be ignored?

imageJim Sterling: The point is, our very talking about School Shooter is singling it out. That aside, I understand you - the game doesn't need a defense. Not many gamers seem to be defending it, really. However, I feel the need to speak up for it with regards to my previous point that I simply do not think it's done anything particularly egregious in comparison to the current climate of entertainment in the West. I'm not necessarily trying to advocate the game or tell gamers to give it a chance. In fact, I likely won't bother playing it myself as I don't think it quite possess enough savvy wit to make a school shooting entertaining - and with enough wit, I believe almost any subject could be entertaining. You just have to be far more talented than most mortals to do it.

As far as the honest goes, I do believe some credit needs to be given, not because I think the game is trying to make the statement I'm using it to make, but because at least it's not being pretentious. I'd rather have a guy who says, "Yeah my game is about violence and doing awful things for entertainment, whatever" than a studio like, say, BioWare, pretending its sex scenes are crucial to a mature narrative, only to throw in an embarrassing sexual encounter that exists for its own sake as a lame reward for a friend management mini game. In this regard, I've often said the Dead or Alive games have more integrity than Dragon Age. Admitting you're just being crass is far more noble, to me, than being crass and pretending you're not.

At least School Shooter isn't pretending to be about anything deep or thought-provoking, and I can respect that more than someone who creates a shocking piece of art and then cravenly attempts to justify it with some sort of vague social message.

imageMovieBob: That's where I'd have to disagree. Not about the game itself, necessarily - we all seem to be on roughly the same page there - but on the idea behind it. I'm not seeing the Troma/Corman-esque "yeah, this is crass junk, so is a lot of stuff" integrity you are.

What I see is something that's been made NOT for bad-taste fun or for exploitative catharsis or even really to be PLAYED; but rather as a lazy, cynical media attention-getter dressed up as edgy provocation.

In that sense, I'd offer that "pawnstick's" tired punk-rock-eff-the-world nihilism routine is probably every bit as much of a pretentious put-on as BioWare's straight-faced assertion that extraterrestrial softcore is some kind of progressive gender commentary; though I'll give BioWare the credit that A.) Their game was good anyway, and B.) Their "routine" is at least more classy and convincing.

imageJames Portnow: I have to agree with Bob. My reaction to this game: it's just bad and not in an over the top bad so-bad-it's-good sort of way. It's no Cannibal the Musical, it's not even Surf Nazis Must Die. It doesn't use its badness to entertain or to point out the banality of our lives, it's just lazy game crafting. There's just not much to talk about here except for the metanarrative of how AAA designers should be more cognizant of their subjects when creating shooters or how audiences should be aware of what shooters are in general saying so they can avoid being accidentally indoctrinated by entertainment products.

I'm surprised that none of us has mentioned Super Columbine Massacre by this point, because if we've got to be discussing school shooting games, there's a lot more to discuss there. It's certainly crafted with a great deal more care (and a lot more thought as to the message).

And besides, Danny Ledone seems like a lot less of a dick...

I won't force the conversation to that SCM, but I'd be happy to move it that way or simply compare/contrast the two. Otherwise, I think I've kind of run out of things to say; School Shooter is a simple game that doesn't bear any form of analysis, us talking about it simply gives it press, and honestly I don't think it's even really going to serve as a blip in the long term discussion of games. Frankly, I think that Rebbeca Black's fame will outlive it...

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