A new video game created by Checkerboarded Studios lets players stalks and shoot fellow students and teachers is drawing criticism, and shock, from school district officials. The game is called “School Shooter: North American Tour 2012″ and, as EdWeek reports, is a first-person game that lets players “move around a school and collect points by killing defenseless students and teachers.”
With memories of the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, still terribly fresh — April 20th was the 12th anniversary of that horrific event — the creation of this game is simply repellent and troubling.
As EdWeek says:
Players can arm themselves with the same weapons used by real-life student gunmen, including Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who shot and killed 13 people in April 1999 at Columbine High School in Colorado before killing themselves, and Seung-Hui Cho, who fatally shot 32 people at Virginia Tech in April 2007. He also killed himself.
“The possibilities are endless!” the site boasts. “You are free to do whatever you want (So long as it involves shooting people in a school).”
Just what America’s youth needs, a video game that lets players be “free” to shoot students and teachers, virtually.
Much research has linked playing violent video games to an increase in violent behavior, as Douglas A. Gentile, the director of the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University, in Ames, says:
A meta-analysis of more than 130 studies in March of last year, led by Mr. Gentile’s Iowa State colleague Craig A. Anderson, found that existing data support the long-assumed theory that regular participation in violent gaming can increase aggressive behavior. And while some researchers dispute that finding, they are in the minority, Mr. Gentile said.
Pennsylvania state Rep. Lawrence Curry (a Democrat from the Philadelphia area), is preparing a resolution to inform parents, teachers and students about what I would say is an excessively tasteless video game. Superintendent Joe Kristobak of the 4,700-student Cornwall-Lebanon school district in central Pennsylvania puts it more bluntly:
“I’m not a fan of any of these games,” he said. “Violence is not a game. Death is not a game. If you start promoting it as a game, it becomes less realistic to people. It becomes a fantasy. I’m not in favor of any of these games that promote violence.”
In fact, Mr. Kristobak questioned why the School Shooter game and others like it are even a matter of debate.
“I don’t think there should even be a discussion about such a topic,” he said. “We shouldn’t even be wasting our brainpower on such a ridiculous matter. It tells you what money can do. It really angers me, to be honest with you.”
I can’t agree with him more. A video game like “School Shooter: North American Tour 2012″ that says it’s a plus for students to arm themselves with the same weapons as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and Seung-Hui Cho did encourages its players to put themselves into the minds of those troubled young men; to “play” at being violent gunmen.
Yes, I know (trust me — I’m the mother of a 14-year-old boy) that young males have raging hormones and all that need to find outlets for these. But video games like “School Shooter: North American Tour 2012″ are more likely to foster more aggressive tendencies as they make violent acts into fun ‘n’ games. As Kristobak says, we really shouldn’t be “wasting our brainpower on such a ridiculous matter.”