The same writer who interviewed Columbine survivor Richard Castaldo about the Columbine RPG video game has now interviewed its creator.
Q. What inspired you to create a game about Columbine?
A. Firstly the shooting itself. This may seem like a tautology to even mention but it’s resoundingly true. Columbine marked me deeply. I was in a Colorado high school then. I was a bullied kid. I didn’t fit in and I was surrounded by a culture of elitism as espoused by our school’s athletes. I saw so many similarities between the situation there in Littleton and my own. It was very much like being terrified by one’s visage in the mirror. At the same time, it was empowering to see two oppressed, marginalized kids rise up–but we’ll get into qualifying this later because I think there is a dangerous oversimplification to be made by saying this.
Emphasis mine. Empowering to see 13 unarmed people get killed by a pair of psychopaths? 13 people who had nothing to do with their killers. And who were they oppressed and marginalized by? The ever anonymous “jocks”? Empowered. You have some nerve to be empowered by the deaths of those at Columbine.
Also there’s something innately comedic about making a violent school shooting into a game with tiny, cartoonish sprites and text-based menus that make firing a TEC-9 feel like casting a magic spell. Part of the point of SCMRPG is that it parodies video games–much like the Broadway version of “Backdraft” from the film “Waiting for Guffman” parodies films adapted for the stage.
There’s nothing comedic at all about the situation. I can have a pretty sick sense of humor myself at times but the comedic value of making a game about one of the darkest moments in American history escapes me.
Q. Would you call this a serious or educational game?
A. I’m not sure the two are mutually exclusive. I feel like parts of the game are very emotionally powerful–something I wanted to push in a medium best known for innocuous icons like Mario, Sonic, and Pac-Man. The game deals with difficult coming-of-age situations like rejection, isolation, ridicule, and depression. Behind all the pixels is the fact that people really died–including angry two boys who were at times very thoughtful, sensitive, and intelligent young men.
Yeah, so thoughtful and sensitive they had no problem with slaughtering so many that had no personal connection to them whatsoever. And they could have had the IQ of Einstein for all I care it doesn’t change the fact that they were mass murderers.
This next one is my “favorite”…
Q. Do you think there are certain topics that should be taboo for video games?
A. Absolutely not. Foremost, the concept of “taboo” is a laughable one in a society that pretends to care about free speech. I stumbled across KKK versions of Super Mario Brothers, a game about escaping the World Trade Center as the towers collapsed, and a shooting game that takes place at the Branch Davidian. I knew then that I was in good company in making this game.
I wouldn’t call it good company but it’s the same company.
And to top it all off…
Q. Are you concerned about the impact a game like this might have on the people directly effected by the events at Columbine?
A. This is actually a more difficult issue for me that my detractors might otherwise imagine. Yes, that is a concern of mine. I realize it’s very difficult for someone affected directly by the shooting to understand or appreciate my point of view in creating a videogame from what is no doubt the most painful experience in their lives. Nonetheless, film directors are embraced for “getting it right” on the Holocaust and I think anyone, including CHS families, who really look at this game will understand that I don’t advocate or endorse the violence but rather am calling for a deeper understanding of the shooting itself. Anyone who rejects outright the search for an alternative perspective is either a fascist or is hopelessly entranced by the emperor’s new clothes.
The difference is in a movie you’re only a silent witness, not an active participant. Would you design a game where you play as a Nazi and get to put the Jews to death? You probably would but most people with an ounce of sense wouldn’t. You know damn well that the people playing your game, for the most part, are the mutants who worship those two scumbags and get a thrill out of getting the chance to play as their heroes. And I highly doubt your sincerity that you’re agonizing over the feelings of the victims and their families. As you said previously in the interview “you sleep quite well at night.”
Here’s what the victims’ families had to say…
“It’s wrong,” said Joe Kechter, whose son, Matt, was murdered in the Columbine library.
“We live in a culture of death,” said Brian Rohrbough, whose son, Dan, was gunned down on a sidewalk outside the school, “so it doesn’t surprise me that this stuff has become so commonplace. It disgusts me. You trivialize the actions of two murderers and the lives of the innocent.”
And Judy Brown, who has been immersed in the Columbine controversy along with her husband, Randy, called it a “sad and sick thing to make a video game out of a tragedy where 13 innocent people were murdered.”
So I guess you can call me, the victims, and their families, fascists for not giving a rat’s ass about the perspective of two mass-murdering scumbags.
You’re not trying to open a discussion about the shooting like you claim. This is nothing more than your concept of hero-worship. It’s nothing more than a tribute to them and you act like you’re doing society some great service. The only way you could do society a service is if you left it.
I hope you get to meet your heroes.