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Thursday, April 12, 2007

More Op/Ed On Columbine and Slamdance

Gamasutra offers another look at Super Columbine RPG and Slamdance's handling of the affair:

Can a serious game about the Columbine tragedy be made if the designer sets out from the start to teach people lessons by having users step into the killers’ shoes and live their lives? Maybe this question really should have been Ledonne’s goal from the beginning. But let’s say that these were not his goals when he created the game. How can we take the concepts from this game and present them in a constructive way that encourages people to experience and learn something, rather than as entertainment and sensationalism? And can we convince those that the game may offend that this is what it should be used for, as opposed to trivializing the tragedy or upsetting those affected by it?

This was the dilemma for [Slamdance's] Peter Baxter and I sympathize with that. I personally have no reason to believe Ledonne's intentions were dishonorable. I believe this was more an error of omission than deliberate commission. But how do you deal with Super Columbine Massacre and people’s perceptions and reactions towards it? Particularly when the line is blurry on its intentions?

Perhaps the answer is for Slamdance, or any competition, to initiate a category for "Serious Games" where thoughtful work in the Serious Game genre can be judged and rewarded on its merit.
-- Gamasutra - Opinion: Serious Games, Serious Responsibility

Perhaps I just have a different view of Slamdance, but I thought the intention of the entire contest was to take games seriously. So I'm not sure why a new category would embolden the contest holders any more than they currently are. And again, I think examining Ledonne's goals and expectations is entirely unfair. Is this how all the works were judged? Do we judge art based not on the result but on what the artist wanted the result to be? Can I get my work reviews done this way? I intended to be highly productive, so please pay me more?

The issue that seems to be missing from a lot of these opinion pieces is the expected goal of the contest, not the submission. Is Slamdance meant to make games a more legitimate form of art or not? Because sadly the fallout of the Columbine decision is that they likely caused the same kind of chilling factor on the sort of development to be submitted to the contest that most would like to avoid.

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