Super Columbine Massacre RPG
Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, abbreviated SCMRPG!, is a role-playing video game created by Danny Ledonne and released in April 2005.
The game recreates the 1999 Columbine High School shootings near Littleton, Colorado. Players assume the roles of gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and act out the massacre, with flashbacks relating parts of Harris and Klebold's past experiences. The game begins on the day of the shootings and follows Harris and Klebold after their suicides to fictional adventures in perdition.
Ledonne had spent many years conceptualizing games, but never created one due to his lack of game design and programming knowledge. He was inspired to create a video game about Columbine by his own experience being bullied and the effect the shooting had on his life. The game represents a critique of how traditional media sensationalized the shooting (in particular the role of video games), as well as parodying video games themselves. Super Columbine Massacre was created with ASCII's game development program RPG Maker 2000 and took approximately six months to complete. Ledonne initially published the game anonymously, releasing an artist's statement about the work after his identity was revealed. Super Columbine Massacre was released for free online and attracted little attention until 2006, when widespread media coverage fueled hundreds of thousands of downloads.
Reaction to Super Columbine Massacre was conflicting; the title was criticized as trivializing the actions of two murderers and the lives of the innocent, and lauded as sophisticated and worthy of praise. The game's cartoon presentation and the side-plot into hell were considered by critics as obscuring the game's message, but it received acclaim as a game that transcended the stereotypical associations of the medium as entertainment for kids. Super Columbine Massacre's themes and content led to it being included in discussions as to whether video games cause violence; the title was later listed as one of the possible motivating factors of the shooter after the 2006 Dawson College shootings. Ledonne has become a spokesperson for video games as an emerging art form, and produced a documentary in 2008 called Playing Columbine about his game and its impact.
Like the developers of JFK Reloaded, another re-creation of a historic murder, the creator of SCMRPG claimed lofty aims. On his Web site--whose illegible look (blue and red text on a black background) is some sort of crime against good design itself--Ledonne says the game "asks more of its audience than rudimentary button-pushing and map navigation; it implores introspection." The site also links to press coverage of the game (typical example: the Denver Post's "Columbine Game Makes Us Ill") and a forum for discussion of the game and the actual shootings.