Poll Question 183 – Is School Shooter bad for gaming?

30th July 2010

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Wow, this is going to be an interesting discussion. Firstly, I heard about this mod via the Podcast 17 Agenda and what specifically caught my eye was William’s comment…“This is the one and only time I will address this mod. It will not be covered on Podcast 17”. Mmm, I thought, what’s this about?

For those that don’t know, School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 is a Source engine mod, where you play a student who decides to kill fellow students. It’s obviously a very delicate subject but simply ignoring it won’t help, at least in my humble opinion.

Whilst I understand William’s sentiment, the fact he publicly announced he won’t cover it, got me interested and reminds me of the days when the BBC in the UK banned certain records and that fact alone helped them get to the number one spot.

Back in January 2007 in Poll Question 015 I asked “Should anything be taboo in FPS games?” and very recently in Poll Question 177 I asked “Would you play a mod that was purposefully trying to be offensive?, so it’s not as if we haven’t discussed the idea before, it’s just this time we have a real example.

I am of the opinion that if we say that some things are acceptable and others aren’t we run the risk of causing ourselves more problems. If we ban something then it will only get more publicity, of course, William is well within his rights to decide exactly what gets covered on the podcast, as I am to decide what I post on this site and he hasn’t exactly said it’s banned! but by saying he won’t cover it, it becomes interesting.

Let’s be clear, I hope this mod never gets released but the fact that it has been started is bad enough. I am not a great fan of violence in games anyway but we are surrounded by it on TV, so children see it everywhere. The difference here is that it’s an interactive media and that’s a little different.

I spent years watching Tom and Jerry but never once hit a cat just because I saw it on TV! Context is very important and this mod describes it self as comedy, now that’s easy to write but how exactly is it supposed to be funny? Maybe it’s just looking for a reaction.

How does the context make it so wrong? If we replaced “school” with “Combine Base” and “students” with “Combine soldiers” suddenly it becomes okay? What if the Combine invasion of Earth is actually a good thing? Is the motivation for an action part of its acceptability? If we feel we doing something for a cause, does that make it right?

Clearly, shooting innocent people is always wrong, whether in real life or games, but nobody made a fuss about Scientist Slaughterhouse did they?

I believe that outside the gaming community will be where the real trouble lies. Perhaps within the community we will be able to see this mod for what it is, just another stupid shooter, not unlike many others that get announced but if the main stream media decides to pick this up then I fear the backlash will have us rushing to defend our pastime.

I have to admit that as I write this piece, I have lots of thoughts running through my head and the above is not as coherent and concise as I would like, but as with all poll questions, I sit down and write what comes into my head and then post it.

Perhaps I should have planned it better but in some ways I find it hard to defend this mod, even though I hate it’s premise, I don’t think we should try to ignore it or its consequences.

So, back to the question…Is School Shooter bad for gaming?

For me the answer is “maybe”, it depends how much coverage it gets outside the community. Of course, maybe that’s the wrong way to look at it. How will it affect young players and modders?

The Poll


  1. Dias

    I know I won’t be playing this mod because it looks boring. The citizens didn’t fight back or even really try to run away. There were metrocops, with stunsticks, but that just seemed tacked on. Too much effort seems to be put into making it controversial, and not enough into making it good.

    It’s made by the same people who made Checkerboard Hopes, and all they seem to care about is trolling.

  2. Anonymous and not Bekey

    “if the main stream media decides to pick this up then I fear the backlash will have us rushing to defend our pastime.”
    That’s exactly what I was telling the ModDB admins, but with no success.

    It’s just disturbing to imagine the kiddies that laugh when playing GTA, that they will play this mod as an FPS.

    1. k00pa

      Is it ModDB’s admins job to make sure that kids won’t play sick mods? NO.

      It is _parents_ job to make sure that their kids wont download that mod.

      And who cares about mainstream media anyway?

  3. k00pa

    I would say no. Because I don’t care what media/other people thinks about games.

    Most likely the creator of that mod was bored and wanted to troll people. It doesn’t even look like a mod, most likely just a custom map/skins to normal hl2.

    Creator of that “mod” is troll.

    Yes, the game can be disturbing/sick idea, but it is game after all!

    GTA is also sick game if you think about it. But still I enjoyed playing it.

    Then there is the adults/parents/politics that whine about violence in video games. FFS DONT GIVE THAT FREAKING 18+ GAME TO YOUR KID.

    Parents should monitor what their childs are doing and stop whining about games.

    So my answer: No. I dont give shit about what media/others thinks about games. If I see game that is controversal, I don’t care. If it is good game, I play it. If it is bad game, I won’t play it.

  4. Re: “I am of the opinion that if we say that some things are acceptable and others aren’t we run the risk of causing ourselves more problems.”

    Huh? I have no idea why the hesitation. You “have rights”, you can have opinions, you can do what you want. If you don’t like this mod because you deem it unacceptable, then don’t include it on the site and what’s the big deal about that? What’s so difficult about this? If, as explained, by banning, it becomes sought after, that isn’t your problem. You are not “held hostage” by this mod!

    Obviously William at Podcast made a mistake by allowing any mention of it, and worse, decided to comment on it himself. However perhaps some comments made it necessary to comment, I don’t know. In any event, his approach was many times better than allowing it to be featured on the site.

  5. If William actually brought the subject of the school shooter up, then he completely negated what, I can only assume, he was hoping to accomplish. If he was going to mention it at all, it should have only been when someone else brought it up, and then he should have just quietly said “sorry, I’m not interested in that kind of mod so I wont be discussing it here”
    This is going to be get big media attention for all of three weeks, and better than 50% of it is going to be from people who aren’t ACTUALLY offended themselves, but who expect other people to be offended and are therefor being offended on their behalf.

    The mod itself will likely never release. If they released it, all the publicity would come to a head decrying it for how horrible it is, no one would actually be able to get it off the internet, so people would eventually give into futility and just ignore it. More likely is it will start moving to different engines with the excuse of “to give more realistic and gruesome kills and to make the victim’s AI more evocative; you can get extra points if you make them beg for their life or start praying to god” The finished product could never actually be as realistic and offensive as it would need to be to live up to the expectations of those people actually outraged by the concept. As long as they don’t release it, they can continue adding to the “concept” without actually needing to do any real work.
    The very most that’s going to be released is a map that claims to be a beta level that lasts all of 5 minutes, so that people can check it out, but still be told “the final product is going to be Waaaayyyy more brutal and sickening” etc.

  6. Player do not need to defend themselves.

    Some authors ought to think twice about inviting a feeding frenzy by the gutter media.
    I stongly suspect that such authors want the adversarial hyperbole and revel in it.
    Just let the inane, infantile losers get on with it.
    It’s their pleasure, not ours.

    The rest of us, players and authors, are above this.
    Best ignored.

  7. I think the School Shooter mod is bound to be a great success. And I think I will ask to be on the mapping team, as soon as I finish up a few of my current side projects.

    The only way I can see this being really bad news is if the maps contain real locations that they are maybe “practicing” for.

  8. ModPlay

    I agree with Phillip in fact I gave the example of GTA on their profile, where people play the game just to drive on sidewalks and kill hookers. My answer is no.

    1. Senator33

      Looks like Postal 2 is still the best in this genre.

      School Shooter doesn’t look like its worth the bother.

  9. Zekiran

    Unfortunately things like this become the poster children for “games are bad for kids, mmkay?”

    Having experienced the backlash and censorship directly from comics that “are for kids, right?” (and aren’t, at all, intended for children to read) people will make assumptions based on names, graphic images, or whatever else pops into the fore. They will NOT make a detailed examination of the product. Even if this mod is “fun” or playable, or well mapped, no one outside the small modding community will care about those things. Anyone outside the mod community will see “OMG SCHOOL SHOOTING AS A GAME?!” and give the obvious, easy, knee-jerk reaction.

    As is their right.

    When the movie “Natural Born Killers” came out, there were plenty of people who saw it for what it was supposed to be: a look at the nature of people. But plenty MORE saw it as “GUNS ARE AWESOME LET’s GO SHOOT PEOPLE!”

    Now, I’m NOT going to make the assumption that this game mod is any deeper than exactly what it’s name implies. I won’t be playing it. The subject matter offends me. Even stupid flash games with the same kind of thing going on offend me. Guns and kids do not mix. Ever.

    Yes, parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing. But honestly here: how many of us ADULTS here, got away with things as kids that now as grownups we’d be frightful “our kids” were doing? I know I did. Not violence, but reasonably easy access to drugs and porn? Games are just a logical extension of that effect. Kids will do what they wish to, their parents are usually too busy to get involved too deeply, or feel that they’re interfering too much in their children’s lives.

    This is the kind of mod, however, that if someone winds up shooting their neighborhood up, and the police discover “this Gmod thing where they were shown how to shoot people”… yeah, that’s where it goes. Down the toilet.

    Not enough people are either smart enough or sensible enough to realize that a game is a game and not harmful. Unfortunately, enough of those dumbasses are playing games and assuming that real life is just like it, that they give the rest of us a very, very bad rep.

  10. Joure

    I don’t like violence for the sake of violence alone. If I am going to pick up a weapon to fight, It has to have a plausible reason for me to do so. In Half Life (1 or 2) You had to for the sake of survival.

    You didn’t decide to go to work and just run and gun people, you had aliens and then later on the army that would initiate an attack on you. Aliens and the combine are a hell of a lot different from students in mu humble opinion.

    My other gripe with this mod is the fact that it uses real world scenarios.It uses the weapons that real killers have used. Playing some generic soldier in a war game is still different. Even though I hate wars and hardly ever play war themed games.

    I’m more annoyed by the fact someone actually thinks this is a cool idea. And no i’m not ignorant I know that vertain people on this planet exist, quite a lot unfortunately. Freedom of speech is something we all must respect. But when someone sayes or does something incredibly stupid we have the right to say something in return, hence we have the same freedom.

    Now I won’t spend much more of my time wasting on this topic, but I just have a problem with the idea behind the mod. I hope this mod will never see the light of day. And I also hope the mainstream media will not pick this up. This guy makes other modders that do try and create something meaningful a bad name, and games in general. I dislike the gta games, and this mod too.

    Anyway, yeah sorry for the rant, but there’s a fine line in violence in games, and this mod crossed it. It looks like rubbish, and I hope it stayes that way. After this topic here on pp I will continue ignoring it.

  11. I’ve actually thought over this a lot; I’ll try to avoid tl;dr, but I recommend reading my post.

    There are 3 fundamental problems with the mod.

    1: In boycotting, or becoming infuriated with the content, the troll mod will earn its Lulz, and thus popularity. The problem is, virtually every morality whore on the internet will tout thier hate for it and a whole bunch of curious individuals of uncertain age will instantly be interested – and not entirely aware it’s a comedy/troll mod.

    2: It’s hit media already. Podcast 17 ‘mentioned” it, PP has talked about it. The troll is gaining momentum and now it’ll be unstoppable. It only takes a few people BAWWWWWing for it to spread.

    3: This will massively besmirch modifications and ModDB. Why it was approved I’m not entirely sure, but if this hits the masses, there will be a shitstorm as every parent and child fight to kill it off or play it respectively. It will in turn spark massive arguments when someone is killed in a school with a firearm.

    In my opinion, ModDB need to pull the plug. Why? Because the mod is a threat to the otherwise peaceful realm of modification. Maybe I’m overestimating, maybe I’m being a hypocrite, maybe I’m “against free speech” or whatever bullshit argument, but it needs to be killed.

    I have no issue with the content whatsoever, but it needs taking down.


    I could say more, but I don’t read the long comments, and I’d hate to have people ignore mine.

  12. LambdaCore 21

    it disgusts me how people ignore the victims of real school shootings

  13. i agree with all the comments above. but, if I did play the mod. I would want a great first weapon, like a eraser or lunch box or best yet that dang paddle the principal use to beat us with back in the day.

    my most favorite first weapon was the 2×4 with a nail in it from black ops hl1. here you are a super ninja and they give you a 2×4 to start out. crazy. pipes, wrenches, pool stick, broken m-16, were all good too.

  14. I believe that this is not necessarily bad for gaming.

    How many people commended the author on having an original idea?

    You can look at the reaction and see how many people have indicated disgust towards its use of taboo material. This is a clear indication of maturity and the level of morality in the gaming and modding community.

    The purpose for this mod is obviously to gain as much attention as it can as quickly as possible. Using a taboo subject such as school shootings has assisted the goal greatly because negative attention is much easier to attain compared to good publicity for a well designed product.

    I believe that taboo material like this can be used properly if the idea has a serious point to make and is well implemented. Unfortunately, this mod is purposefully insensitive.

  15. Stratofarius

    Sure, you can go ahead and say this mod is trying to be offensive.

    This mod is actually trying to be funny.

    There was a flash game called “replaying THE GAME” and there was a scene where you would enter a school and shoot students. The students were hippie or nerd versions of the Boomer, the Smoker and the Tank. And believe it or not, it was still an excellent game.

    Some people do have a point in saying that its trying to be offensive, but some other people are simply overreacting. What people lack are the skill to notice when something is trying to be a parody.

    You can go ahead and say: “This mod is offensive because it uses a really “bad” theme, such as shooting students, school masssacres, etc, and depicts it as “fun.” I agree 100% with you. But if you come to me and say: “This is horrible because this theme is bad and people will see this mod and think its fun and start shooting schools” I’ll tell you to sit down and chill.

    It’s only a game. If you think people will play this game and start shooting at their local school, do not blame the mod-makers, blame the parents.

    Tl;dr its a parody game done wrong, and people are overreacting.

  16. Now I don’t condone violence, but I do have the presence of mind to know that it’s just a game, and that no harm has ever come from playing one.

    But I do think that everyone is missing a very important piece of information: not once does it say that the students are children. A college is a school, is it not? And the adults within are considered students, aren’t they? What if the Combine were in a school, and you had to kill them to proceed? That would be a school shooting, wouldn’t it? My point is that the creator uses vague language, and people automatically assume the worst.

  17. It is a parental issue at heart, too many parent use the TV and VG’s as baby sitters.. I understand that you cannot keep an eye on a kid 24-7.. I have 3, two on the wing one still in the nest… but you can put a foot up their ass when they need it..and should.
    The mod itself is in VERY poor taste… I say boycott it until it disappears.

  18. Well if it’s a school-shooter that refers to a certain school, or an event that happened recreated into a game, then it should never be released. It’ll just hurt the victim’s friends and families” feelings and well, it’s just not nice.

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