Extra Consideration

Extra Consideration
The School Shooter Mod

Extra Consideration | 16 May 2011 17:00
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imageMovieBob: Again, free speech and creative freedom are absolute to me, and it's insane to think that this medium shouldn't or isn't capable of tackling this kind of subject matter... but this isn't that game - this is artistically-bankrupt, feces-thrown-at-the-audience, "look at me!!! I'm soooo naughty!!!" bullshit of the highest order; and if there's ONE thing that's holding the "games as art" conversation back it's that we're forced to waste time defending shit like this on the technicalities of free speech instead of defending GOOD controversial games on their genuine merits.

The initial question asked the "disturbed" or "brilliant" question, and I can't agree to either. Suda51 is disturbed and/or brilliant - THIS, on the other hand, is as base and simplistic as you can get; as cynical and calculated a grab for attention as a beer commercial or the career Justin Bieber. It's not sociopathic or scary or dark - it's just stupid and obvious.

If you read the interview the developer of this did with Greg Tito (in The Escapist) for me that kind of settles the whole thing - "pawnstick" comes off as the worst kind of vapid wannabe-provocateur. He attacks gamers, defends Jack Thompson, insults the makers of similar games for not being as badass as him... he might as well just hang a "PAY ATTENTION TO ME!" sign around his neck - with the obligatory footnote reading "Oh, and totally remember all this manufactured controversy when I come out with my otherwise not-worth-noticing 'professional' followup.

imageJames Portnow: It's funny, I just spent the weekend lecturing at UT on propaganda games and we got to discussing debased atrocities like Zog's Nightmare; I said I'd defend to the last their right to make such things, but told the students not to even give them the hits by looking up such trash. So I wholeheartedly agree with Bob: while they indubitably have the right to make School Shooter, it's not a game, it's a stunt. Frankly I don't think it deserves the press we'll be giving it.

But that doesn't negate the interesting point Jim made: are our standard shooters any better? Well, yes, because the well-made ones are actually engaging, but many are morally vapid and often incentivize the killing of specific racial or religious groups, not because they are actually racist but because they need a generic enemy and pull one from the bin of societal fears without thinking (much as we used to do with American Indians). I'd love to see a game where raising a gun really meant something. Where pulling the trigger or taking a life was an act with great impact and moral weight. Most of all I'd like to see that done in a context that's actually engaging (rather than a drab "serious game" that's offering specific moralizing).

Simultaneously, shooting galleries are fun. We've had these sorts of games for thousands of years and they're not going away (in fact for much of history we've shot live animals for sport, so I guess we're arguably taking a step forward even with the some of the more simplistic shooters). So long as players think about the context of what they are doing I don't think there's really anything wrong with this as a method of play (and for the record, I've always found Grand Theft as fairly astute social commentary that is pointing out it is social commentary by its ridiculousness; I think it's on us as players if we fail to observe that).

P.S. One of these years when I have the free time I'm going to make my Second Person Shooter where the game is from the perspective of a sniper scope and you're one of the tiny blips on the other end trying desperately not to get shot.

P.P.S. It always bothers me that games like this get a ton of attention and products like September 12th go totally under the radar (Sept. 12th is by no means the apotheosis of the form, but for god sake it's at least as well crafted as School Shooter.)

imageMovieBob: Regarding the issue of the troubling aspects of the shooter genre in general; I feel the need to interject a "broader picture" element to the discussion: that there needs to be a differentiation between issues that are endemic to gaming and issues that come from the CULTURE in which gaming exists.

While it's true that the FPS scene is loaded with ugly stuff like racism, chauvinism, gun worship, military fetishism, all that... Those are ALL elements that FPS games have imported from the macho/meathead "army porn" culture that the genre seeks to emulate.

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