I, Columbine Killer

What’s it actually like? Does it exploit the tragedy for cheap thrills? Or does it actually have artistic merit — offering a new way to think about Columbine?

Right off the bat, Ledonne tries to put his critics off guard by delivering precisely the opposite of what you’d expect. Nobody will be able to use Super Columbine to live out explicit fantasies of gore or train themselves to shoot up a high school.

That’s because it’s anything but a graphically sophisticated, blood-soaked shoot-em-up. On the contrary, Super Columbine was designed to look like a clunky Nintendo game from the mid ’90s, with low-rez, pixilated characters the size of sugar cubes, and cheesy MIDI music. When you kill someone, the avatar looks like a mashed red blot.

What strikes you, instead, is Ledonne’s attention to narrative detail. He painstakingly researched the killers’ life stories using publicly released police investigations of the pair, and the game thus includes all manner of detail I never knew. When I started off in Harris’ house, I found a box of Luvox, an antidepressant he was on that prevented him getting into the Marines. When I met up with Klebold in a basement, we sat down in front of the VCR to watch the “I’ve seen the horror” speech from Apocalypse Now, a movie they apparently loved. —Clive ThompsonI, Columbine Killer (Wired)

I’ve been sick or caring for sick family members for most of the break, so I haven’t had the chance to write my thoughts about “Super Columbine Massacre RPG!” — the game, that is, rather than simply the Slamdance controversy.

Thompson is one of the few voices out there who actually played the game, and can thus argue that “It uses the language of games as a way to think about the massacre. Ledonne, like all creators of ‘serious games,’ uses gameplay as a rhetorical technique.”