Letters To The Editor: 'Art, Columbine, Vision'

Gamasutra's new Letters to the Editor round-up has further reactions and response to the Super Columbine RPG and are games art debate, as well as the particular challenges of being a
Gamasutra has recently had further interesting feedback to some of our notable features and opinion pieces, as collected through our Letters to the Editor, so here's the newest weekly roundup, with some of the reactions you might have missed. Click through on each link (free reg. req.) for the full Letter. As expected, our March feature Why You Owe The Columbine RPG, which examined press and industry reaction to the infamous title, has generated a good amount of feedback from readers. Aurelio Reis took umbrage with dissecting the game as a work of art, adding that it does a disservice to focus on the game when other independent works could better use the attention: "I believe in protecting the First Amendment at all costs, but to insinuate that this is a work of art that should be celebrated as the height of our medium to be discussed is a farce. It is also grossly insulting to the hundreds of incredible independent games over the years that did far better to challenge media perceptions but were not shocking enough to illicit attention." Similarly, W. Dustin Norman, says that while the game may qualify as art, that doesn't necessarily qualify it as good art, and good art might be what the industry needs most: "So what if it got attention? Who cares if it tested limits? If people are so devoid of true talent that the only way they can bring attention to their art is by offending people then it is not art at all, and again I as a consumer am not tempted to respect games, quite the opposite in fact. Gaming is an enormous industry now. We have gained a great deal of respect from the public at large. How much more would they respect us as designers and developers if when given reason we stood together and denounced those who would defile our public image?" Elsewhere, article author Patrick Dugan takes on some of the responses by offering that while it might be true that other games have been better crafted or more powerful, his focus on the Columbine RPG has everything to do with impact: "The McDonald's Videogame, Disaffected!, and Ayiti: The Cost Of Life are games that imply a powerful political and social message through a periodic absence of fun, and are much better games. However, none of these titles has had the same impact as the Columbine RPG, and that impact, rather than the game itself, was the focus of my article. You may not need to study the topography of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs, but you should still pay attention to that meteor's effects." Finally, new anonymous letters-page regular Grassroots Gamemaster has written in to respond to our most recent installment of the Becoming A Stellar Games Industry Manager feature series to say that while helpful, the series might not go far enough to address particular games industry issues: "To me the glaring omission in them is they don't come to terms with the unique creative challenges native to game design and development - or really any sort of heavily creative industry. They are collectivist, and drive everything down to the lowest common denominator. They normalize things, and expect people to have normal behaviour. [...] If we are to listen to these rules if you are really possessed by a vision, and your team is mangling it because they don't understand the vision, YOU - not the team, or an impossible process - YOU are the problem. I could mention to Mr Menscher that creating any great innovative work is intrinsically un-understandable." "I found it very telling," the Gamesmaster concludes, "that in the section entitled 'Using Your [Leadership] Powers For Good', of the five reasons mentioned NOT ONE is to further the aesthetic and creative dimensions of games." For more reactions on Columbine, and throught-provoking responses to both our recent feature on the are-games-art debate, and on rethinking the MMO, to be read and responded to, visit our letters page.

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