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Monday, January 15, 2007

Wired On Super Columbine

What strikes you, instead, is Ledonne's attention to narrative detail. He painstakingly researched the killers' life stories using publicly released police investigations of the pair, and the game thus includes all manner of detail I never knew. When I started off in Harris' house, I found a box of Luvox, an antidepressant he was on that prevented him getting into the Marines. When I met up with Klebold in a basement, we sat down in front of the VCR to watch the "I've seen the horror" speech from Apocalypse Now, a movie they apparently loved.

Ledonne actually reconstructed copious dialogue for the pair, pulled from real-life transcripts of what they said on the day of the shooting -- including survivor reports and their own videotapes of themselves. (He estimates 80 percent of the dialogue in the game is lifted from real life.) It's oddly mesmerizing: They wonder about what the reaction will be to the massacre ("pass more gun laws, probably"), reminisce about old times, gird themselves for battle and explicitly compare the attack to video games. "It's gonna be like Doom, man!" Dylan exults.

You're constantly reminded of how creepily unbalanced Harris and Klebold were. One minute they're tossing off nihilistic riffs: "When I'm in my human form, knowing I'm going to die, everything has a touch of triviality to it," Klebold muses. The next minute they're quoting Shakespeare: "Good wombs hath borne bad sons."
-- I, Columbine Killer

Also, they quote Peter Baxter not pointing the finger at sponsors but rather at himself:

...was simply too hot a potato. There were legal concerns, he told me (though he was vague about them); and "there was a question of our moral obligations to the families of the victims."

So which is it - external pressure or internal worries? Slamdance needs to get their act together here. If it was a sponsor's threats then they need to communicate expectations better with sponsors ... and get better contracts. If it's just cold feet ... then I think they need to rework the contest. Not, you know, court people that they'll be afraid to back later on.

Also, level the playing field. If Slamdance feels the need to add a "moral obligation" clause to entrants - it has to go for all forms of media ... not just games.

Bet that wouldn't go far.

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