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virginia tech memorial game

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Is anyone planning or working on a game that treats the Virginia Tech shootings with the seriousness and respect the subject deserves? I was reminded today of the ridiculous VT game that's already out, as well as the Columbine game, and thought about what game developers can do to address these issues productively. We can complain about how games aren't treated as art, how they're scapegoated by ignorant politicians and the general public, and we can tell them that games are worthy of the same consideration other more established forms of media are. We are responsible (to the extent that a community can be responsible for the actions of a few of its members) for games that make light of and exploit terrible tragedies. We as game designers are responsible for the way games are viewed, treated, and ultimately accepted by the public. We have to demonstrate to the public that games are a worthy medium for expression and exploration of serious ideas. My idea is for an adventure game set on the VT campus. The goal of the game is to travel to different buildings and areas of the campus, talking with various people, to collect the materials necessary to construct a Virginia Tech Memorial to the victims of the shootings. I think would be great, with the permission of the victims' families of course, to include some of the victims as characters in the game. The player could learn about them as individuals, their likes and dislikes, about their major, and perhaps something about VT history or culture. Once the player has collected the materials and completed the memorial, they can list their name and school (if they attend one) on an online leaderboard, which can become a virtual memorial to the victims. In this way, play can become collaborative (get as many people as possible to complete the game to list their name in remembrance of the victims), and competitive (which school can have the most participants). I know there are games that address serious issues, but many of them have a political agenda, and I believe it's important for a memorial to be free of agendas (except perhaps anti-violence). I think this would be a great way to demonstrate that games have more to offer society than being simple "murder simulators" and can feature constructive, rather than destructive goals. I hope there's something like this going on already, but I searched and couldn't find anything. Does anybody have any other thoughts?

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Are you sure that we NEED to make a game based on Virginia Tech? Wouldn't the most respectful thing be to just let them mourn in peace?

I kind of feel like we are at Bob's Blinking Neon Sign Emporium, and we're asking the question, "How can we make a blinking neon sign that treats the Virginia Tech shootings with the respect it deserves?"

I understand the need to prove that games are art, but a VT game seems like the wrong approach for the wrong time. It feels like you're trying to profit from their tragedy, whether or not that's your real motivation.

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I probably wouldn't have thought of it if I hadn't heard about the other incredibly offensive game somebody else made in a transparent attempt to make money (send money and I'll take it down).

Conventional memorials typically don't charge admission, and I wouldn't dream of trying to make money from such an online effort (unless it would be donated to the families).

I do understand your point about "what does this have to do with games," though.

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To be blunt, I think its a dumb idea and I don't see any real artistic merit to it.

The premise is "Build a virtual memorial and sign the leaderboard." To what end? Sure you learn about the people and campus along the way, but in what way does that tie into the random outburst of violence? Learning about the victims isn't art, its more like trivia. I'm sure there were many wonderful individuals that lost their lives that day, and by no means was that trivial, but I fail to see how learning random facts about them is really a way to be memorialized. There's no real ability to form an emotional bond through facts alone.


Super Columbine RPG at least approached the subject with some introspection. It was partly satire and the medium in which it was expressed was itself part of that because of all the fingers pointed at videogames after that shooting. Another key factor making the video game an appropriate medium was the interactivity, because it forced you to "pull the trigger" by pressing a button, with the intent to make you examine your emotions over doing so. It also attempts to examine the possible motives of the killers and goes as far as to hint how the whole thing may have been avoided.


I don't necessarily think a video game like the one you describe would be disrespectful, but I do think there are better ways to memorialize them and to express your sympathy. Get involved with the real effort to memorialize the victims or, for the socio-politically inclined, get involved with whatever policies that have been brought to the forefront which you feel strongly about; be it anti/pro gun-control, better mental health services for state-funded schools, or whatever else. Research and write an essay about the victims as people and the impact on their families and friends, narrative is a far better medium for expressing this information than an interactive medium like video games.

Your heart seems to be in the right place, but I think there are more effective and appropriate mediums for you to express yourself.

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ravyne2001, I appreciate your well-considered response, if not your bluntness :)

You ask "to what end" should an online virtual memorial be built for the victims?

Memorials are generally devoted to the memories of victims of a tragedy, not to "examine the motives of the killers". They don't exist to force the viewer or participant to understand, but to simply reflect on lives lost.

To me, this is a valid goal for a game to attempt to achieve.

I agree with your statement that: "there's no real ability to form an emotional bond through facts alone." And yet at many memorials there are photos of the people being remembered, and for some people those pictures are surprisingly poignant. In this game, victims might appear as full-fledged characters with whom you can interact, not just a stat-sheet with blood type and shoe size.

You suggest instead to "get involved with the real effort to memorialize the victims". I am talking about a real effort in a virtual space. There are other successful online memorials such as the Officer Down Memorial Page (http://www.odmp.org/).

Of course anyone who attempted to make a game about this event to further a political view would be (rightly?) roundly castigated.

I remain unconvinced that "there are more effective and appropriate mediums". As you mentioned, games have a powerful element of interactivety, which can be used to express many different ideas. How can we most effectively and sensitively elicit mourning, regret, sympathy, and remembrance in players?

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Why dont we just make a game to commemorate people in Iraq? Or people who starve every day? Tons of people die daily. Making a video game about it wont stop it.

Sure, its hard. Its horrible. But you know what, it happened, and something is already being done about it. Its none of my business, and probably not yours, to have any say whatsoever in what kind of memorial should be built.

Let them be mourned by families, and loved ones.

Now if you want to create a game thats more of an art, or you want to create a game that makes videogames not the scape-goat, go right ahead, but as its been said, this isnt the time or place to do it.

Sorry if I seem-harshish, but still, I stand strongly on this opinion.

Someone close to me died this year, you dont really want to tell people you barely know, because they have no clue how you feel, or who that person is. It gets annoying, to say it bluntly. So unless your family was direcetly involved, I say dont go for it.

Your cause is just, but its not the right move. Money doesnt make up for the loss of a child, brother, sister, or cousin.

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Okay, forget about my idea.

Eddie R Inzauto - Senior Editor, GameWad.com, writes about VTech Rampage:

"Could we be seeing a more sophisticated and meaningful video game depiction of this event in the future? It would be nice, because as it stands, Lambourn's work only provides ammunition to anti-gaming legislation."

http://www.gamewad.com/vtech-rampage-creator-posts-ransom-scmrpg-creator-responds-3441-p.html

What does that "more sophisticated and meaningful video game" look like? That's my real question.

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Quote:
Original post by bdoskocil
What does that "more sophisticated and meaningful video game" look like? That's my real question.
Uh, well, first off it doesn't capitalize on human tragedy like this does. You ask "how do we make a game about VA Tech that isn't exploitative", but if you've started with VA Tech and built a game around it, rather than starting with a game and realizing that VA Tech is the best setting for it, you're already guilty of exploitation.

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Quote:
Original post by bdoskocil
Once the player has collected the materials and completed the memorial, they can list their name and school (if they attend one) on an online leaderboard, which can become a virtual memorial to the victims. In this way, play can become collaborative (get as many people as possible to complete the game to list their name in remembrance of the victims), and competitive (which school can have the most participants).


That is so crass and insincere. If people are to sign a memorial, it shouldn't be because they beat some game, or so thier school can beat another school...they should sign it out of genuine sincere empathy. And they shouldn't have to jump through your game's unjustifiable hoops to do so.



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Personally, I don't care for the idea of making games out of tragic events. I cringe every time I see a new game based on some real-life past war. Some things just shouldn't be turned into amusements.

But thats just my opinion.

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