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Inside the Sick Mind of a School Shooter Mod

| 28 Feb 2011 17:05
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The Survival mode of SS:NAT2012 feels a lot like how I used to play GTA3 with my friends. We'd trade turns causing as much havoc as we could before the tanks showed up. Was that aspect of open world crime games a basis for School Shooter?

That mentality is precisely the kind which SS:NAT2012 is meant to appeal to. Hard as it may be for some to admit it, we all enjoy driving over NPCs and firing into crowds in GTA. Sure, there's a satisfaction in killing the cops and armed gang members, but the biggest part of GTA's appeal is undoubtedly being able to take civilians by surprise and mow as many down as you can before the cops show up. Every level in SS:NAT2012 begins with taking a room full of students by surprise, but is meant to end with a confrontation with armed adversaries.

Is the suicide at the end of each session optional? Can you keep shooting until police take you out?

In SS:NAT2012 suicide is just a fancier way of ending your run through the level. If you're backed up into the corner and you have no ammo or something like that, instead of just getting shot until you die you can choose to end your life with your currently equipped weapon, and every weapon will have its own unique first person animation. If you have a pistol equipped you put the gun into your mouth or if you have a grenade you can blow yourself up. We're also in the process of writing catchy one-liners that the player will spout just before ending his life.

Will students or teachers ever fight back in the game? Why or why not?

The fun in killing the "innocent" NPCs is the fact that they are incapable of fighting back. It's more intuitive to leave it to law enforcement to try and end the player's spree, rather than the terrified fleeing members of the student body.

What do you think about the California bill proposing that violent videogames be illegal to sell to minors? Do you think the Supreme Court will vote in favor or against its adoption?

It is my hope that the bill passes. I'd be surprised if it doesn't. The type of kids who are especially eager to get their hands on violent games - who would attempt to thwart store policies by using fake IDs or dragging their friend's parents along to approve the purchase - probably shouldn't be playing the games in the first place. As much as gamers may have hated Jack Thompson (And as misguided and misinformed at the guy may have been), the point still stands that video games have the potential to impact certain susceptible minds. Yes, so do film and television and the rest of the media, as many gamers are eager to point out. But that doesn't actually negate the fact that games do, in fact, have an impact.

I realize this obviously puts SS:NAT2012 in a poor position. Especially considering that it's a free downloadable mod: Not something we can really regulate with an advanced age verification system. I guess the fact that all the Source games currently available are rated "M" might keep most of the kiddies at bay. Failing that check, however, I guess one of our intents with the game is to make it it's own sort of exclusive experience: That any angst-ridden kid who has the idea in his head to shoot up his school, who ends up playing the game, finds it amusing enough of a substitute that it keeps them from doing it in real life.

Given the constant attacks from mainstream media against videogames for portraying violence, why would you give these fanatics more ammunition to dismiss games as childish at best and harmful at worst?

Because that's exactly what games are. The media is right to dismiss games as "bang-bang shoot 'em ups" and "murder simulators," because at their core, that is exactly what most games boil down to. Take Bulletstorm, for example: It is pretty much the full embodiment of what the media assumes games to be. It's humor is crude, it's writing is dumb, and it's gameplay is ultra-violent. And that is exactly what makes it so appealing, not only to adults, but also to kids.

With all the excruciating coverage that came with the Wii and the Kinect - complete with television hosts flailing their arms and legs around like idiots trying to play baseball and jumping in rafts - the myth that all games revolve around violence has been thoroughly debunked. The media understands now that games are aimed at specific audiences. They also know as well as we gamers do that kids do manage to get their hands on violent games. It's their responsibility as sensationalists to discuss how kids inevitably get their hands on games they shouldn't be playing, and how said games have the potential to corrupt them.

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