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?