More feedback on the Columbine RPG

The Register’s Young Adult Board of Contributors Weighs In:

Here’s what a young contributor to the Des Moines Register had to say about Super Columbine Massacre RPG…

It has recently been in the news that a computer game entitled “Super Columbine Massacre RPG” is gaining popularity. The game mimics such events as the 1999 Columbine School shooting. Containing actual footage of the shooters, players are put in the shoes of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in an attempt to kill as many students and teachers as possible. While victims’ parents and the public are outraged and appalled, not everyone is reacting negatively to this ignominy. Richard Castaldo, a paralyzed victim of the incident, claims to have played the game. While he says some parts were difficult to get through, in the end he didn’t think it was all that bad-“it might even be helpful,” he says. Though I’m no foe of video games, the level of disrespect and heartlessness in this game is astonishing. The game makes a sick mockery of a tragedy that affected not only the residents of Littleton, Colorado, but also the nation. It desensitizes people to such calamities and underestimates the devastating effects. We need to distinguish between fiction and reality-the horrors of school shootings are no game.

-Jo Gruenewald, Ames

I agree with her 100% except that in Richard’s own words he did not give the game a “thumbs up”.

The games the media plays

Danny Ledonne

Columbine Game Author Outed:

Just another article about mutant gamemaker..excuse me…”filmmaker” Danny Ledonne being outed by one of his detractors. Nothing I haven’t covered before. However, I keep seeing in the media that Columbine survivor Richard Castaldo says he supports the game. That’s not entirely true…

Various media reports have featured condemnations of the game from relatives of the victims. However, Richard Castaldo, paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting played the game and welcomed it as an addition to the books, films and articles that have focused on the tragedy.

Here is the original quotes from the Kotaku interview

Q. What did you think of it?

A. It probably sounds a bit odd for someone like me to say, but I appreciate the fact at least to some degree that something like this was made. I think that at least it gets people talikng about Columbine in a unique perspective, which is probably a good thing. But that being said there are a lot of things that are har to play or watch. And it seems to partially glamorize what happened. It shows a stark-contrast between fantasy and real life in an interesting way.

I like the part in the game where if you go up to the water fountain theres a thing that comes up that explains that the water in denver is a little bit hard because it contains calcium and magnesium but is harmless. Answering the hypothetical question of “Was there something in the water, that caused this?” Clearly not, and the causes for this are not easily apparent.

Q. Did the idea that you were playing as Klebold and Harris upset you?

A. It’s all third person, so your kind of looking down on this thing as all of this horrible stuff is going on. It reminded me of the movie ‘Elephant”, because it showed a lot of stuff in cutscenes that they were doing that led up to that fateful day. It showed them doing a lot of stuff that supposedly influenced thei actions. TherLike it showed them being bullied, and how much they hated it. But, then the people they actually killed had nothing to do with that.

And the part they leave out is…

But, at the same time there are some dialogue in the game that comes up after you kill the students that refers to you as being “brave boys”, which i would hope was supposed to be ironic, because clearly what they did was not brave or heroic in anyway, it was quite the opposite. It has you killing students with absolutely no protection whatsoever. Which is what actually happened. So if the killers (or anyone else for that matter) thought that what they were doing was heroic in any way they were deeply fooling themselves. People ask me all the time, “Did you know them?” And my answer is of course no, i didn’t. And, I didn’t do a damn thing to either one of them. So, I think the game kinda highlights that. That there was no real rhyme or reason why specific people got killed.

So I think they’re unfairly giving the game his seal of approval.

Richard, if I’m wrong please correct me.

UPDATE: I e-mailed Richard to ask him what he thought of the media’s portrayal of him as somewhat of a supporter of the game. This is what he had to say…

yeah that story got way more attention than i thought. i figured the gaming community would pick it up but not everyone. Anyway, I don’t think i said i supported it really, i just said i had played it out of curiosity. I even got hatemai from one guy who said i was an asshole, which i found kind of amusing and puzzling at the same time. Somehow i think he got the impression that I suppported school shootings or something. That is obviously the last thing i want to happen. I reminded him that i was actually shot at the thing. I definatley don’t support real violence, but this is a game. But, i said i had ambiguous feelings about the game and i still do. I think if you’re trrying to learn more backgrond detail by playing this game, why not? But also i guess there are people out there who think maybe there might be a fringe audience out there that would play this game and it would somehow inspire them. I don’t really think thats the case. But, if that was even remotely true than that would be the disgusting part. I’m stil a little disturbed, however, about the “Brave Boys” thing though, that was going a little too far. i would hope that nobody really thinks that, that woudl be upsetting. But, im not going to say the guy should burn in hell for it or whatever.

I dont know why media types acted like i gave it a thumbs up, i guess thats the media for you.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Richard Castaldo talks about Columbine RPG

Columbine SurvivorTalks About Columbine RPG:

For those of you who don’t know what an RPG is it stands for Role Playing Game. It’s a type of video game that deals mostly in fantasy scenarios. Popular RPG franchises would be Final Fantasy or Suikoden. Think of it as Dungeons and Dragons but as a video game. And yes someone made one based on Columbine. I’ve seen it but I haven’t played it. I’m not about to download that to my computer. Anyway, Richard Castaldo, who I first mentioned here did an interview with Kotaku, a gaming site, about the Columbine RPG. I won’t reprint the whole thing but I found this segment of the article most interesting…

Do you think it glamorizes what happened at Columbine?

There is a part where after the character’s representing the killers in the game die, and then the game shows an extended real-life montage of what happened that day. And it shows their blood-soaked corpses, and isn’t pretty. Which to me deglamorizes what they did. I’ve heard of some stories where some students try to make folk heroes out of these killers, which is very disgusting to me. I think people who have that mindset and then play this game and see that part it would make it real for them. As opposed to having this sort-of romanticized version that some people have.

But, at the same time there are some dialog in the game that comes up after you kill the students that refers to you as being “brave boys”, which i would hope was supposed to be ironic, because clearly what they did was not brave or heroic in anyway, it was quite the opposite. It has you killing students with absolutely no protection whatsoever. Which is what actually happened. So if the killers (or anyone else for that matter) thought that what they were doing was heroic in any way they were deeply fooling themselves. People ask me all the time, “Did you know them?” And my answer is of course no, i didn’t. And, I didn’t do a damn thing to either one of them. So, I think the game kinda highlights that. That there was no real rhyme or reason why specific people got killed.

And that’s from someone who was there that unfortunately did not come out unscathed.

So think about that the next time you think that the killers weren’t cowards.

5/5/06 From The Mail Sack: A Survivor’s Opinion

I received comments today from someone claiming to be Columbine survivor Richard Castaldo on my entry about Dylan Klebold’s car being up for auction. I have no reason to doubt that claim. Here’s what he had to say…

i saw some shit on the news about people having websites paying tribute to the assholes that did this shit, and it bothered me for obvious reasons. so i hope people would be disuaded to do fucked up shit by this site and others like it. And its completely fucking ridiculous to admire what they did in any way. In contrast to popular opinion a lot of people that were shot didn’t do a god-damn thing to these fucks (me included). I have no idea why you’d admire dipshits wwhod kill people over absolutlely nothing. snd what thy did was definatley in no way noble and in no way brave, as they claimed. it doesn;t take shit to kill someone who isn’t expecting ir and with no armor. so i dont know what the hell that proves other than what pussies they really were. REal men would never think of doing something like that. And they brought being nade fun of on themselves, i saw them a couple times and they acteed like they were above it all. oh, and its also moronic to blame games and music and whatnot. cause i play and lisen to the exact same stuff, and am not negatively effected in any way.

I hope the mutants were paying attention.