Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Please Exit Calmly

Given all the controversy around the Super Columbine Massacre RPG! game, which was nominated for a 2007 Slamdance award but was pulled from the competition before the awardees could be judged, it is interesting to look at the serious game about school shootings, Lockdown, from the GamePipe Lab at USC. Lockdown appears to use the first-person shooter game mechanic consistenly throughout, unlike the controversial SCMRPG, but the point of view is from a law-enforcement first responder with SWAT training rather than a disaffected young person. In what Alex Galloway has described as the distinctive framing of the weapon in a FPS game, there are a number of guns -- some with special scopes -- and even a smoke cannister.

Sponsored by Sandia National Laboratories, the action of the game takes place on a college campus. Our highly professional protagonist examines the profiles of potential suspects, steps around corpses dispassionately, and instructs spectators to "please exit calmly" on a regular basis before cornering the shooter and engaging him in a firefight.

Other games from the academic year at GamePipe, including a number of others in serious games genres, are described here.

(Thanks to the lab's director Mike Zyda for the updates on some of the work being done at USC.)

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