Lots of editorial opinion to check out today, so here goes:
Strong stuff in the Washington Post, where writer Jose Antonio Vargas offers more info on the highly-controversial Super Columbine Massacre RPG game, including the revelation of the real name of its creator, Danny LeDonne (seen at left). By the way, I think GP is first to reveal LeDonne's MySpace. The WaPo's Vargas also spoke to the widow of Columbine victim Dave Sanders, a popular teacher killed in the 1999 school shooting. Vargas reports that, upon learning that a video game based on the massacre had been created, Mrs. Sanders was, quite understandably, unable to continue the conversation.
In the Peoria Journal-Star, columnist Phil Luciano blames poor writing skills on video games. Luciano writes in part, "Many of my college students... seem to be less familiar with books than earlier generations. In part, you can blame the influence of video games in pre-teens' lives. If the choice is 'Moby Dick' or Playstation, I think we know which one a kid will pick... In other words, good writing means good salaries. Think about that the next time you choose between taking your kid to the video store or the library..."
GP: For many reasons, we think Luciano couldn't be more wrong on this point. We'd advise him to do a little research next time, and encourage him to read Marc Prensky's excellent Don't Bother Me, Mom - I'm Learning!!.
Moving back to the Super Columbine Massacre RPG controversy, Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, weighs in, calling the game's creator a "deeply disturbed jerk... pompous hypocrite and a coward".
Bozell also calls for Georgia Tech to fire Ian Bogost, professor of video game criticism. Bogost wrote that the Columbine game "...is brave, sophisticated and worthy of praise from those of us interested in video games with an agenda. Super Columbine Massacre RPG is disturbing because it is meant to be... This game is not fun, it is challenging and difficult to play - not technically difficult, but conceptually difficult. We need more of that."
Although Bozell clearly acknowledges that the Columbine game is a non-commercial download, he inexplicably relates it to retail-oriented video game legislation: "It's stories like this that underline why states are cracking down on the sale of violent video games to minors..."
GP: Bozell is just plain wrong about Professor Bogost, who makes it his business to evaluate games through an academic filter, unencumbered by emotion. However, the PTC president's reaction to the game is not surprising. Many thoughtful, intelligent people have had like responses. Certainly I was not comfortable with the game which led GamePolitics not to cover SCMRPG until its appearance in the national press left no choice. Columbine Super Massacre RPG is an extremely uncomfortable topic.
Down in Louisiana, two more newspapers (this makes five by our count) have editorialized against the video game bills currently making their way through the state's House and Senate. The Daily Advertiser expresses concern about video game content but is less sanguine about the legislation, writing, "...the ban will have a short life... the video game industry will quickly file suit, and the courts will again rule in their favor on the basis of the Constitutional guarantee of free speech... lawmakers are acting in good faith, but keeping undesirable video games away from children is not a task for the legislature. It is the responsibility of parents... Something positive can come from legislative action on the issue. The debate and the lawsuit that is likely to follow passage of the bill can create greater awareness of the dangerous content of some of the games."
The Bossier Press-Tribune was even more direct: "Here is a common-sense question: If you knew a proposed law was likely unconstitutional, would you pass it anyway? If you are the Louisiana House of Representatives you would... This is no more than 'feel good' legislation - and will probably be struck down in court... Precedent is not on the side of this legislation. At the very least, this bill will have trouble in the courts and enforcement. Passing HB 421 just doesn't make sense."
First Amendment experts Clay Calvert and Robert Richards weigh in on Minnesota's video game bill, which is on its way to Gov. Tim Pawlenty for signature: "The bill, while perhaps well-intended, is fatally flawed for several reasons and likely would, if approved and signed into law, cost Minnesota taxpayers thousands of dollars in futile litigation efforts to preserve it against inevitable judicial challenges by the video game industry. The odds of the measure passing constitutional muster are slim to none..."
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