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Friday, January 05, 2007

Super Columbine Pulled From Slamdance

Via Patrick:

Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, by a wide margin the most controversial game ever made (Mortal Kombat looks like Seasame Street Learning Adventures 3 by comparison) has been pulled from the Slamdance Film festival due to sponsor pressure. You can read about it at Watercooler, Game Politics, Kotaku and most exhaustively (in comments) at Slashdot.

I disseminate so you don't have to.

First, the facts:SCMRPG! was pulled because of financial pressures on a private entity - it was a business decision. To quote Lebowski, "come on man, this is not a first amendment thing."

This is the first time a film/game/media work was pulled from the Festival since its inception.
-- Super Columbine Pulled From Slamdance

Patrick has a lot more to say at that post - so first you should go read the whole thing.

I rather like the guys from Slamdance, after having gone through multiple layers of strike through to correct my presumptions about the contest. This seems to be a clash of tragic forces at work. I'm certain that they would not have made the game a finalist if they didn't think that it squarely met their standards. I know these guys played the entrants and really analyzed them. So nobody can argue that on its merits, the game didn't belong. I don't think they would have gotten it wrong.

Likewise, I can't imagine they went down without a fight. And to me - the fight's the point. I know the gamesphere will use this as another reason to throw down over the good and bad about the game's content. That's not the point. The game was already a finalist. Despite what you may think about the game - it was already judged.

No, I'd say this is idealism in helping push the limits of gaming and the reality of having sponsors mash headlong into each other. I'm sure there are a lot of sponsors which don't want to be positioned with the game. I'm guessing it was not any of the indie game companies like Manifesto or the Texas Independent Games Conference. I'm guessing rather that it's a company that didn't quite realize just how cutting edge games can really get.

Indeed, I'm guessing the idea of a game as political or social statement never even crossed their minds. I don't want to take any company who was willing to back the competition to task too harshly - but I would think that they shouldn't come back around next year. I would hope that in the future, Slamdance protects themselves from this kind of threat by keeping sponsors contractually obligated despite the material featured in the contest.

Because if they don't - it spells trouble for the concept in general. If designers feel they can't send submissions because the content crosses some moral line that won't attract companies ... well we simply won't know where that line exists. All art needs the cutting edge, the vanguard, and the radical. The mod community used to be a vast pool for this stuff, but commercialism has almost completely dried up that well.

I'm not sure how many more gaming can stand to lose.

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