Virginia Tech shooting statement
Danny Ledonne, creator of “Super Columbine Massacre RPG!”
4/17/2007

This week, the press is awash with stories about the shooting at Virginia Tech – the deadliest in recent history. Will we remember this tragedy in a week? In a month? In the years to follow? I certainly hope so. I hope we can learn from such sobering events as Virginia Tech, as Dawson College, Ehrfurt, Columbine and all the other horrific shootings modern society has endured. So often the potential for another shooting is just around the corner should we forget the lessons history has to offer us. This process of reevaluation, introspection, and a search for understanding is the value I believe my video game offers to those who play it.

The question I've been asked so often lately has been, “will you make a game out of the Virginia Tech shooting?” My answer is “I will not be.” I will not be because it has not been something that I am personally connected to; the shooting at Columbine (which hit so close to home for me – literally and figuratively – during my sophomore year of high school) was not only an American tragedy in the broadest sense but also a clarion call for change in my own life. Having said this, one might ask if I think an interactive project (a "video game") about the shooting at Virginia Tech can be made. My answer is “absolutely.” Societies throughout history have dealt with pain, tragedy, and suffering with art in a multitude of forms and ours is no exception. There will be poems about this shooting, there will be books about it, films about it, paintings about it, and indeed I do not believe the medium of interactive electronic media should be excluded from exploring the sorrows and challenges of the human experience.

Some have probed further, suggesting that SCMRPG offered something very valuable to those who seriously approached it and that I should nonetheless consider making a game from the Virginia Tech massacre on egalitarian grounds (believe it or not, some people think my work has that much value). Relative personal identification aside, one of the other reasons I couldn't make a Virginia Tech massacre game is more emotional. After reading all of Cho's writings and what has been released thus far, I have a vague glimpse at just how profoundly disturbed and depressed he was. When I made SCMRPG, I spend six months getting into the heads of Eric and Dylan and suffered from minor depression myself as a result. This is akin to an actor playing a very sinister role or an author writing about a particularly macabre subject. For me, developing SCMRPG often meant going into dark, frightening places and frankly I'm not sure I could ever go there again; the psychological toll was more than I had imagined. Maybe people who first hear about me think I'm some warped sicko who was gleefully recreating the shooting at Columbine. In truth, it was a prolonged, painful, and perhaps necessary exorcism for me. I don't think I could entrench myself that deeply into something like that again. Maybe someone else can but the weight of such an undertaking is significant.

Currently at Virginia Tech, there is much talk about “community” and “solidarity.” This was also the case after many other shootings around the country and indeed around the world. Will this community endure in the years to follow? Will we care enough about each other tomorrow to reach out and connect with those who “don't fit in,” who “don't seem normal,” who “always keep to themselves?” The answer is ultimately up to all of us. I do not believe that the cause of such atrocities are ultimately unknowable; I believe there are complex but clear conclusions to be drawn from the school shooting epidemic. I hope in the years to follow we are willing to be honest with ourselves in confronting this challenge. In summary, no school shooter has ever said, “I feel connected, understood and valued for who I am.” This much should be instructive.

"In the dark times, will there also be singing? Yes, there will be singing about the dark times."

- Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)

 

I believe this can be applied to 21st century art, as well:

"In the dark times, will there also be gaming? Yes, there will be gaming about the dark times."

 

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