Controversy and drama

Super Columbine Massacre RPG

It’s caused a lot of controversy lately, which I suppose is only natural. It’s a game about the Columbine school shootings of 1999, and you know…it’s not pleasant. This ofcourse has raised havock! Ian Bogost at WaterCoolerGames, who is quite passionate about games with an agenda – wrote an interesting piece a few weeks ago, which has caused people like Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council to call for Bogost’s resignation from Georgia Tech.I suppose that’s what upset me the most really. Personally, I haven’t played the game because it just seemed too uncomfortable, for me – I’m such a wimp, I know.

Mr. Bogost has written yet another brilliant post on the media coverage, which really needs to be read in full – I’ll cut’n’paste the summary here though:

“Most of all, I am deeply worried by this culture of ineffability, a culture that would rather not talk about anything at all for fear that it might make someone uncomfortable. This trend descends from Theodor Adorno’s argument that the holocaust becomes “transformed, with something of the horror removed” when represented in art, thus his famous statement that to write poetry after Auschwitz would be barbaric. These events are considered “ineffable” — unspeakable, unrepresentable. It is a tired sentiment that we must move beyond. Of course topics like 9/11 should make us uncomfortable. Of course Columbine should make us uncomfortable. But that is no excuse to put these issues away in a drawer, waiting for some miraculous solution to spring forth and resolve them for us. If we do so, history is much more likely to forget them. I don’t care if we make videogames, films, novels, poems, sidewalk art, cupcakes, or pelts as a way to interrogate our world. But we must not fear that world.”

I’m not going to dwell on the media coverage too much here – overreaction seemed inevitable in this case and I do feel like a fraud since I myself have not dared to play the game yet! But I thought I would point this out.

Another great man has also been in the spotlight for uttering his opinions.

Dan Hunter recently wrote a Terra Nova post about MindArk’s bank card release for Entropia Universe players (ehm…users?). I agreed when he wrote:

“This story has finally convinced me that MindArk is fantastic at generating public-relations stories that credulous media sources pick up without questioning, but which, if investigated for even a moment, make you shake your head in wonder”.

Well…now MindArk has made a big yooha out of it! Accusing Dan Hunter of slander (w00t) and demanding that both he and his employer post an apology! It all seems a bit surreal to me. As Hunter later writes:

“Public relations is mostly hype anyway, and my beef wasn’t particularly with Mindark as the mainstream media’s inability to exercise any judgment about what is really newsworthy about virtual worlds. When the New York Times gets all breathy about a debit card, it’s time to tell them to get a better bullshit detector.”

So a lot of bizarre drama going on – which isn’t exactly new here in the blogosphere – but I still find it amusing…and sometimes a bit scary. I mean, can I be accused of slander for some of my writings here? Or am I just not read by enough people? And to what extent can I voice my own opinions in this blog without my university being held accountable? Am I free to utter what I want because I’m a student?

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