Last updated: September 17, 2010 2:20 pm
Online video game re-enacts Dawson massacre
Game released one week before four-year anniversary of fatal school shooting
MONTREAL (CUP) — A video game recently posted to a gaming website invites players to walk in the footsteps of Kimveer Gill and go on a shooting rampage at Dawson College.
Gill is the gunman who strode into Dawson in 2006 and opened fire, killing one student and injuring 19 others before killing himself. It was the most recent of the three school shootings that have occurred in Montreal since 1989.
Dawson College Massacre was posted online on Sept. 8, a few days before Sept. 13, the four-year anniversary of Gill’s shooting spree.
“Take the role of Kimveer Gill and storm Dawson College with your favorite rifle,” the game’s description reads. “Kill those students and kill any cops you can! Be careful, those cops are quick on the scene and see you, get in that school and kill everyone before the cops have the chance to ruin your plan!”
The game’s style is very basic, comparable graphically and in terms of game-play to early video flash games.
It begins with Gill’s biography and photos of himself he had posted online. Gameplay begins on the same Montreal street and time where Gill’s shooting rampage. The players must aim at and shoot student characters while moving into the school and avoiding the aim of police officers. When police shoot the player, the Gill character commits suicide against a red background.
The website where it was posted, Newgrounds.com, hosts flash games and animations designed by site members. Virtuaman, the game creator, has five other games on the site, including Skunk Launch Cannon and Cyber Mini-Putt. Little information is posted in the creator’s biography, but the account has been active since Nov. 2009.
Danny Ledonne, another video game author, doesn’t thinks that Virtuaman is trying to glorify the Dawson shootings.
“I do not believe Virtuaman’s intentions were malicious at all,” wrote Ledonne in an email. “Like many young people, this game designer wanted to understand something foreign to him and chose the medium of games to do this.”
Ledonne caused an uproar in 2005 when he created Super Columbine Massacre RPG.
In Ledonne’s game, players re-enact the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, when teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot 34 people, killing 12 students and one teacher. Ledonne’s intentions had been to explore bullying and understand the path the boys chose.
“Games are a sophisticated and still poorly-understood medium, so how to communicate an idea — or investigate a social issue — is difficult to understand with games,” he said.
A private message to Virtuaman through Newgrounds.com, questioning intentions, was unanswered, but someone under that name posted a statement to Ledonne’s website on Sept. 11 saying: “I am not quite sure why I made [the game].”
Upon having studied school shootings and seeing that they happen again and again, the writer noted: “Hiding from the problem does not make it go away. The only way anyone will learn about these events and what causes them is if the story is shown to them in front of their eyes.”
Reviewers had mixed reactions to the game.
“Seriously man, this game isn’t ‘art,’ it’s assholeism. Shock value no longer makes entertainment,” commented Wetalo, who identified as a current Dawson student.
“Yes, people are going to hate this, but what form of art doesn’t have its detractors? By turning the brutality of a real shooting into a pixilated game, you make an ironic remark on our own society. We don't care about shooters emulating various wars, but make one about a taboo subject and people will come out in droves to protest it,” wrote another reviewer, who scored the game 10 out of 10.
“In the end I hope the game doesn’t ruin anyone’s day. I never made it with the intention of hurting anyone,” concluded Virtuaman’s post on Ledonne’s website.