School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 Courts Controversy

March 1, 2011 -

Checkerboarded Studios is testing the boundaries of good taste and free speech with a new game modification for Half-Life 2 where the goal is partake in a school shooting called School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 (thanks Andrew Eisen). The Escapist caught up with mod maker known only as "Pawnstick," who attempted to explain the motivation of creating such a mod.

The gist of his comments on the game are not about how shocking, horrible, or in bad taste a mod such as his is, but about how there haven't been any exciting games representing school shootings. He calls Super Columbine Massacre "fucking boring." His inspiration for the mod came from Bully: Source, which he says tries to "educate the player" and calls "almost always fucking garbage."

Here is what he had to say about media coverage of Columbine:


"I think the media tried to cover it in a way that made the events more dramatic than they actually were. Even in my younger age, I saw right through most of it. The way the news victimized the victims and overplayed the evil of the shooters disgusted me more than the actual shootings themselves. The fact of the matter is, I never knew any of the victims, or anybody else who attended the schools. It affected me as much as hearing about the quakes in Haiti. Which is to say, not very much at all."

And a bit more on his research for the mod:

"To be honest, most of the research consisted of simply Googling the shooters and their weapons. A Columbine Site helped us out with some of the weapons from the Columbine shootings. The maps, however, aren't actually based on any school in particular. The maps are all designed with gameplay in mind. If any of the maps end up accidentally matching the dimensions of some real-life school, it will be by total coincidence."

Commentary: Freedom of speech aside, it sounds like this mod is being made just to create a mod to be controversial. Perhaps it is just savvy marketing because media types like us and anti-game media outlets will eat it up. Regardless of the fallout, School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 is in poor taste and comes out at a time when the industry does not need this kind of attention.

Source: The Escapist


Re: School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 Courts ...

This game is unoubtedly tasteless, it's clear that he doesn't care about school shootings at all and just wants to stir up controversy for free publicity. However, it's just a personal mod, from the looks of things it will be hosted on a personal website. It has nothing to do with the games industry and he has every right to make it available. By the same token, he will have to accept the tsunami of criticism that comes his way for making such a tasteless game. 

Re: School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 Courts ...

This is why we should ban the sale of games to minors! That way, they will just get it from torrents instead!



"Paste superficially profound, but utterly meaningless quotation here."

Re: School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 Courts ...

Troll wants feeding.

Re: School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 Courts ...

I can see Fox News salivating already for this game, blaming the entire industry, the ESRB and claiming that the game is aimed for 4 years old and is gonna to be sale on WalMart, and that is gonna be the next hot game of the year along with Rapelay, Grand Theft Auto 3 and Custer´s Revenge. 

If they were doing the game in a more satiric tone, maybe it would be more defendeble, but this mod is doing the things way too easy for the anti-games crowd.

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Re: School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 Courts ...

I actually agree with the highly reactionary lot, but that's because the issues that appear on this site are ones we are personally invested in, and some of us aren't as classy as others. We have a very immature vocal minority, much like any other group.


I kind of figured someone would do something like this with the CA law still in limbo. It's just too much of a bright light for media moths and attention seekers to ignore.

I can only hope (vainly) that the media has learned to distinguish between user-created mods and games sold in stores at this point. But I feel that we'll have a fox news exclusive within the next week talking about how your kids can walk into wal mart and buy a game to practice killing thier classmates.



-Austin from Oregon

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Re: School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 Courts ...

I read this article yesterday, and this report pnly scratches the surfrace of what this guy said.  I was surprised and put off by a lot of things.  I was especially surprised that he actually wanted the CA law to be upheld!:

"It is my hope that the bill passes. I'd be surprised if it doesn't. The type of kids who are especially eager to get their hands on violent games - who would attempt to thwart store policies by using fake IDs or dragging their friend's parents along to approve the purchase - probably shouldn't be playing the games in the first place. As much as gamers may have hated Jack Thompson (And as misguided and misinformed at the guy may have been), the point still stands that video games have the potential to impact certain susceptible minds. Yes, so do film and television and the rest of the media, as many gamers are eager to point out. But that doesn't actually negate the fact that games do, in fact, have an impact."

Maybe they do, but he fails to understand the potential chilling effect this law would have if it does pass.  Sounds to me that he'd love to see the entire game industry go down in flames.

He later goes on to say:

"Gamers are a generally misguided, highly reactionary lot. Back when Jack Thompson was still hot news, in their vain attempts to discredit him, a large quantity of them made threats against him and cursed his name. Which, of course, only served to strengthen his position in the eyes of non-gamers. Watching gamers threaten us with violence, in order to stop us from making our admittedly violent game, is an amusing bit of irony."

You know, I'll admit, I didn't think it helped our case either when I saw people openly threatening JT, or for that matter Leland Yee or any other anti-gaming pundit.  But to say that we're a "misguided, highly reactionary lot" is unfair.

He said this about whether he had any sympathy for the victims:

"I think the media tried to cover it in a way that made the events more dramatic than they actually were. Even in my younger age, I saw right through most of it. The way the news victimized the victims and overplayed the evil of the shooters disgusted me more than the actual shootings themselves. The fact of the matter is, I never knew any of the victims, or anybody else who attended the schools. It affected me as much as hearing about the quakes in Haiti. Which is to say, not very much at all."

I can sort of understand where he's coming from here, as the news does tend to overplay things.  I didn't have family in Haiti, or for that matter knew anyone who died in 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina.  So I wasn't as emotionally invested as I would have been if I did.

Still, it's human nature to feel bad when a tragedy befalls your fellow man.  So even if I didn't know anyone, I still felt some degree of sorrow or sympathy.  That's just what you do.

In the end, I had to ultimately agree with the commenters on this article that the guy was probably a troll and saying these things just to provoke.  That's the only way it would have made any sense.

Re: School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 Courts ...

Though he kinda has a point.. treating this one particular type of event as sacred, something that you MUST have a 'higher purpose' in order to touch, is another thing that hurts the industry.

While we like to say 'games can be high art, they can educate!' as a way to defend games, it comes at a cost.  Embedded in the concept is that only high art has a right to exist or that high art is of more value the other types, and by saying that games are important because they can be like this is also to say that games that are not, well, are not... it also communicates that games need to justify themselves and the industry is agreeing with this.

Re: School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 Courts ...

Well I for one have never heard of "Checkerboarded Studios," and I anticipate not hearing anything else about them after this poorly-conceived mod has come and gone.

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