The Toronto Sun (above) is one of a number of news outlets playing up the fact the Kimveer Gill, the shooter in a recent senseless attack at a school in Montreal, listed Super Columbine Massacre RPG as his favorite video game in a blog posting. At first glance, it seems like a natural connection -- a Columbine-style killer who was inspired by a game that lets you recreate the tragic events of the Columbine shootings. Yet while news outlets are quick to mention the game's scary name, or simply the fact that the killer "loved ... violent video games," no mainstream news source that I have seen actually looks at the game itself and why a disturbed, potential killer might be drawn to it.
More than the crass, exploitative murder simulator that you may expect from the name, Super Columbine Massacre RPG explores the motivations of the Columbine killers and the aftermath of their attacks using quotes and source material from those involved. The game does let you control Columbine killers Dylan Klebold and Matthew Harris, but doesn't come close to glorifying them or their actions. Rather, it shows the killers as confusing, troubled and deeply tragic figures.
Is this game the call to murder that the paper's are implying? Or is it a game that creator Danny Ledonne says "dares us into a realm of grey morality with nuanced perspectives of suffering, vengeance, horror, and reflection;" a game that Ian Bogost of Water Cooler Games called "brave, sophisticated and worthy of praise from those of us interested in video games with an agenda;" a game that a blogger at The Pale Writer called "one of the only psychological explorations of the Columbine killers ever completed."
The shootings in Montreal are obviously regrettable, but using the occasion to drag an important, intellectual, and well-made game doesn't do anyone any good.