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Columbine game blocked from receiving Slamdance special jury prize

Kyle Orland

When Slamdance festival director Peter Baxter removed Super Columbine Massacre RPG as a finalist in the festival's Guerrila Gamemaker Competition, he probably thought it would be the last time he would have to block the game from consideration for an award. As it so happened, though, Baxter found himself in a similar position last Friday night, when he reportedly stopped the game from receiving a special jury prize from the judges for the film documentary category.

As detailed on Slamdance attendee Patrick Dugan's blog and confirmed by SCMRPG creator Danny Ledonne in an interview with Joystiq, the whole thing began on Tuesday, when Slamdance documentary juror Brian Flemming paused to watch an unofficial demo of the game put on by Ledonne on a laptop just outside the official game competition tent. Flemming, director of "The God Who Wasn't There," had heard about the controversy surrounding the game, and was intrigued enough by the demo to mention the game to his two fellow documentary jurors.

On Friday, the three jurors contacted Ledonne on a conference call and asked him about his game and the motivations behind it. Based on this interview, the jurors decided to award an unofficial special jury prize in recognition of the game's look at the motivations behind the Columbine killers. As Ledonne told Joystiq, Flemming and the jurors were "trying to do something that went under Slamdance's radar," planning to surprise the audience by announcing the special prize along with the film documentary award on Friday night.

It was not to be, though. According to Ledonne, Baxter had gotten word of the the jurors' plan and reportedly stopped Flemming just before he took the stage, saying he could not present the award due to "music clearance issues" (an excuse discussed previously on this blog). According to Ledonne, Flemming tried to hold his ground, but eventually gave in to Baxter's request (Flemming did not respond to a request for comment at the time of this posting).

Ledonne, who's currently working on a documentary about the controversy surrounding his game, told Joystiq being recognized by the documentary judges "would have been a valuable asset to the public's understanding of the game," and would have "re-framed the game in a valuable light ... as a documentary." Still, he respects Baxter's right to control what goes on at his festival, and says he's trying his best to at least understand Baxter's position.

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