Super Columbine Massacre RPG!
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Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, abbreviated SCMRPG!, is a role-playing game created by Danny Ledonne in the RPG Maker 2000 engine and released in April 20, 2005. The game recreates the 1999 Columbine High School shootings near Littleton, Colorado. Players assume the roles of the two perpetrators Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and act out the massacre of the school, with flashbacks relating parts of Harris and Klebold's past experiences.
The game begins as Eric Harris' mother wakes him on April 20, 1999. Harris phones Dylan Klebold, and the pair meet in Harris' basement to plot a series of bombings that will precede their planned shooting. The two reminisce about the bullying they experienced at Columbine High and express rage at those they perceive to be their tormentors. Harris and Klebold make a video, apologizing to their parents and asking them not to blame themselves for what will follow. The two boys collect their guns and bombs, pack a duffel bag with weapons, and leave home.
In the next scene Harris and Klebold are standing outside their high school. The player guides them to the cafeteria to plant their timed propane bombs without being detected by security cameras or hall monitors. After the explosives are set, the two stop for a moment on a hill outside the school, discussing their alienation and hostility. After the bombs fail to explode as planned, Harris and Klebold decide to enter the school and murder as many people as they can; the final number killed is up to the player. After roaming around the school shooting innocents, Harris and Klebold commit suicide. A montage of clips showing Harris and Klebold's corpses, students comforting each other, and childhood photos of the gunmen plays.
The game's second half finds Klebold alone in Hell. After combating demons and monsters from the video game Doom, Klebold reunites with Harris, and they profess their enthusiasm for the opportunity to live out their favorite video game. The pair find themselves at the "Isle of Lost Souls", where they meet fictional characters such as Pikachu, Bart Simpson, Mega Man, Mario and real life personalities including J. Robert Oppenheimer, ect. Next, they deliver a copy of Ecce Homo to Friedrich Nietzsche before fighting the South Park depiction of Satan. Upon their victory, Satan congratulates them for their deeds.
The game returns to Columbine High School, where a press conference addresses the murders. Some of the dialogue appears precisely as it was spoken after the actual event, while other lines caricature the political forces at work in the aftermath of the murders. The conference references gun control advocacy, religious fundamentalism, and the media's implication of Marilyn Manson and video games as culpable in the shooting.
Players control the actions of teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold; the pair entered Colorado's Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 and killed 13 people before turning their guns on themselves in a library. Much of the game takes place in a third-person view, with players controlling Harris and Klebold from an overhead perspective. The graphics and characters are deliberately reminiscent of a 16-bit-era video game; while the content is violent, the violence is not graphically rendered. The game featured an extremely accurate details of the shooting, ranking from an dialouge that were actually spoken by the shooters and victims, to the shooter's inventory.
Super Columbine Massacre was created by Danny Ledonne of Alamosa, Colorado, then a student and independent filmmaker. As a high school student, the Columbine shootings resonated with Ledonne, who said that he himself had once been the receiving end of bullying in high school like the shooters.
In 1999, Ledonne's favorite film director Stanley Kubrick's death and the Columbine High School massacre occurred within months of each other; Ledonne credited the two events with changing his life. After seeing Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, Ledonne discovered that film could comment on culture. After the Columbine shootings, he realized he was headed down the same path as the shooters. "It was a bit scary, once I learned more about these boys, because it was like I was looking in the mirror and I didn't want the same fate for myself", Ledonne said.
In November 2004, Ledonne discovered RPG Maker, an easy-to-use game developing kit. As Ledonne wanted to create a game since his childhood but never produced due to his lack of programming skills. He then decided to create a game based on the Columbine massacre as a criticism on elements surrounding the shooting, such as high school bullying and various factors that leads to the shooting, as well as public and media's reaction and response to the shooting, such as the victory screen quote "another victory for the Trenchcoat Mafia" (referring to the myth about the preperators being bullied for wearing trenchcoats) and a Doom-based levels (referring to the media report about the preparators have been influenced by violent video games, specifically Doom). Ledonne stated that this will be his first and the only game he'll ever made.
Why It Intentionally Sucks
- To get the elephant out of the room, it was based on the tragedy of the same name, making the game in extremely poor taste and offensive.
- The game sometimes uses digitized photographs from the shooting, voice samples from news reports, and uses photos of the school for the battle backgrounds.
- Extremely violent content, despite the violence not being graphically depicted.
- Poor story, Most of the time it just recreates the story of the 1999 high school massacre shooting (almost as bad as making a game about 9/11 and yes, games like that exist.).
- Terrible graphics quality. It was made for Windows 98 and never received an official graphic update. The tilesets are ugly and different styles clash together, spritework clearly has put minimal effort into them with even some real world images of objects such as cars or the backgrounds used.
- It used as characters, real world people, and fictional characters from TV shows and video game franchises without authorization from their owners. That should not be something that bad, but considering the bad taste of the game overall, it is disrespectful to those people and the characters' fanbases.
The game was made available for download on April 20, 2005, the sixth anniversary of the Columbine massacre. Ledonne sought to remain anonymous at the game's debut to avoid any possible controversy, which he would later regret as it created the impression he had something to hide. Under the alias Columbin, Ledonne regularly engaged gamers and critics alike on a message board he established to discuss the game's depiction of the shooting and the broader implications of the shooting.
The game is released as a freeware with optional $1 donation for bandwidth cost for the game's website. Initially, the game gained little attention, and was downloaded 10,000 times in its first year. In April 2006, Patrick Dugan of web site Gamasutra wrote about the game after meeting Ledonne at Game Developers Conference. Impressed about the game's premise, Dugan sent an email to Georgia Institute of Technology professor Ian Bogost, who blogged about the game. Brian Crecente of Kotaku and Rocky Mountain News subsequently interviewed Bogost about the game, thus bringing the game to the light of mainstream media and controversy.
Ledonne's identity was later revealed by Roger Kovacs, a friend of one of the Columbine victims, Rachel Scott. Kovacs found out Ledonne's name by donating to the site via PayPal; after his name and address were posted online. Ledonne later stepped forward and took responsibility to the game and were immediately stormed by journalists for interview, "That's when I decided that I had to grow a backbone and stand up for my creation", Ledonne said.
Reaction to Super Columbine Massacre was negative; the title was criticized as trivializing the actions of Harris and Klebold and the lives of the innocent. The game's cartoon presentation and the side-plot into hell were considered by critics as obscuring the game's message, but it received minor note as a game that transcended the stereotypical associations of the medium as entertainment for children. Super Columbine Massacre's themes and content led to it being included in discussions as to whether video games cause violence.