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Slamdance Festival Loses More Entrants 62

Posted by Zonk
from the should-have-thought-this-through dept.
In yet more displays of solidarity with the creator of Super Columbine Massacre RPG, additional Slamdance finalists have withdrawn. The incredibly creative Toblo, as well as the titles Once Upon a Time and Everyday Shooter have taken themselves out of consideration in protest of the Columbine game's removal from the competition. Only eight of the original 14 finalists are still in the competition, with several of those having gotten together to write a letter of protest to the contest's organizers. Danny Leddonne, creator of the Columbine title, has spoken with Ars Technica and Next Gen in recent days, and touches on both his controversial title and the hoopla that now surrounds it. Update: 01/10 20:21 GMT by Z : It doesn't end. Slamdance has now lost a sponsor over this.
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Slamdance Festival Loses More Entrants

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  • by creimer (824291) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @02:35PM (#17543292) Homepage
    The smart thing to do is enter even more controversial titles. I'm sure Swinging Dictators of The Gallows would be a smashing hit. :P
  • great (Score:3, Funny)

    by nomadic (141991) <[nomadicworld] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @02:44PM (#17543448) Homepage
    Now how are we going to officially recognize games with lousy graphics and heavyhanded political and social commentary?
    • by TubeSteak (669689)
      Right now, it really sucks to be Slamdance

      Sponsors were threatening to pull out because the game was included.

      Now game makers and other sponsors are pulling out because the game was excluded.

      I'm guessing that Slamdance is wishing they had never suggested that Danny Leddonne submit his Columbine game.
      • by HTH NE1 (675604)
        A pity there aren't any reports of new groups coming forward to offer their sponsorship dollars on the condition that SCMRPG be reinstated to the competition.
    • My hope is that all the backers pull out untill we know who it was that put in the preassure.

      I admit that I was defending the SlamDance people before, however my views are starting to waver (the biggest hit was from the blog post you linked to). It looks like they refuse to give any real reason, even to other sponsers, though it still could just them knowing that if they say "Well **** major contributor said they would walk if we didn't pull the game", that the exact same contributor WOULD walk for being p
  • by rhombic (140326) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @02:54PM (#17543638)
    It seems to me that anyone who thinks Slamdance made an idiotic decision ought to be contacting the producers of the seven games left in the competition (list is at the Slamdance website [slamdance.com], and ask them why they haven't pulled out yet. The strongest comment on this sort of behavior will be made if they have NO games left in the competition this year.

    • Considering this fiasco seems to have more or less unified the indy games community over the last day or two against Slamdance's actions, I wonder whatever remaining contestants - if any - of this year's awards will hope to gain from their participation. I doubt a "Winner of the 2007 Slamdance Guerrilla Gamemaker Competition" badge on your website is not going to gain you much gamer cred from many gamers or designers any time soon.
    • by 91degrees (207121)
      It's tempting. But whether or not they want to pull out in support of the game is a personal decision. I'll not judge them either way, and certainly wouldn't want to risk pressuring them into doing something they don't want to do.
      • by rhombic (140326)
        Not to pressure them into pulling out, but I think it's useful to let the producers know that in my opinion, the 2007 Slamdance game award will be for "Developer least concerned about independence in game production", and that I, as an indie game fan, am a big fan of the games and producers that are pulling out of the competition on principle. If they hear that same message from a lot of their fan base, they'll understand that there's nothing to be gained from staying in the competition this year.
  • Super Slamdance Massacre RPG! will be my next game depicting the fall of Slamdance festival(loss of sponsors and finalists). I hope I get it finished before next year's festival.
    • by FLEB (312391)
      Honestly, I'd like to see it. Kind of a "Sim-Festival" game where you have to hold things together when nearly every decision you can make is a bad one, to a degree.
  • by hrrY (954980) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @03:07PM (#17543868)
    As long as you have fortune 500-1000 brand corporate sponsors in these "festivals", how does the content displayed provide "cutting edge", "provocative", and my favorite "innovative" impressions of an artists work? To me it's no different than going to a car show booth and seing "johnson and johnson" or "duncan hines" scrawled all over the dashboard.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Meagermanx (768421)
      That's exactly what this protest is about. They're saying that they don't want to be a part of a crooked contest, so they're pulling out of an important competition with ever-increasing odds of winning.
      They're putting their money where their mouths are, and it's admirable that they're taking a stand against censorship, whether or not you think Super Columbine Massacre RPG is a mockery or a brilliant political satire.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      As long as you have fortune 500-1000 brand corporate sponsors in these "festivals", how does the content displayed provide "cutting edge", "provocative", and my favorite "innovative" impressions of an artists work?

      If you don't think that a commercial company is capable of art [atspeedimages.com] then you should just go away. Great art is great whether it's done in the pursuit of money or not. (You might not agree that what I showed you is an example of art, but I assure you that Porsche cares very much about what their car

      • by hrrY (954980)

        As long as you have fortune 500-1000 brand corporate sponsors in these "festivals", how does the content displayed provide "cutting edge", "provocative", and my favorite "innovative" impressions of an artists work?

        Did you not see "fortune 500-1000"...I don't think that commercial == fortune 500 company...not to mention the fact that in the context of what the Slamdance festival is/means, I'm not under the impression that the festival entrants are fortune-seekers...
        So...

  • by MidVicious (1045984) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @03:17PM (#17544040)

    It's hard for me to jump up and say, "Yeah! Way to go!" at the so-called honorable actions of other games pulling out of the Festival. Sure, it was stupid of Slamdance to allow SCRPG to enter only to disqualify them at the end. It's like allowing a drug using, girl-gone-wild type into a Miss America pagent only to disqualify her later because she's a drug using, girl-gone-wild type.

    Er... wait... what?

    Seriously, although I am not for disqualifying the SCRPG, how would you feel about a new FPS entering the contest called Maryland Sniper? Remember the guy who was sniping innocent people coming out of the parking lot or attempting to use a gas pump? Would that be an acceptable entry as well?

    I mean, look, after all the WWII and Iraq Desert conflict style games that are out, let's face it, this SCRPG is not much different. Anyway you look at it, the fundamentals are this, one group of people waged war against another, took lethal action, and tragedy ensued.

    So at what point does one feel that a violent video game has crossed the line? Grand Theft Auto, a game where the player steals cars, kills hookers (Vice City) and pretends to be a stereotyped Uncle Tom gangster (San Andreas), has pretty much been accepted as gaming norm. Ironically enough, brain drained politicians felt the hot coffee mod where two 3D animated sprites humping one another was far worse than shooting a prostitute in the gut, stepping on her face, stealing a car and running over pedestrians.

    And what constitutes the 'line being crossed' scenario? It seems in this case, the "too soon?" cliche is what crosses the line, although that argument gets shot to hell when Iraq War games hit the shelves three years after the conflict began. It seems to me there is no line when it comes to video game violence. There is only pushing the envelope by displaying contextual scenarios and situations that happen to be violent. For example, a game where I can, with graphic results, shoot a hooker in the face, no problem, but if I bring her up to my virtual apartment and, with graphic results, dry hump her, there's a problem with that. If I shoot her in the face afterwards, serious, serious problems, but only because I dry humped her first.

    See? It's baseless. There is no line. There is only the ability of players to understand the level of realism they are simulating. This is obviously just Slamdance making a really dumb decision at a very poor time. If they would have refused the game in the getgo, well, then they'd have to come up with a pretty good reason why and I think they didn't feel like doing so as it might impede on their slamdanciness, so to speak.

    Here's a question: What if this were called Super Columbine Simulator, instead of RPG? Too Soon?

    • by KDR_11k (778916)
      Seriously, although I am not for disqualifying the SCRPG, how would you feel about a new FPS entering the contest called Maryland Sniper? Remember the guy who was sniping innocent people coming out of the parking lot or attempting to use a gas pump? Would that be an acceptable entry as well?

      As long as there's more to it than just shooting random people, yes. A videogame is probably the best way to introduce the player to the way of thinking of an individual they cannot immediately understand (not just ordin
      • by kalirion (728907)
        Even if it was a "shooting fish in a barrel" type game with no challenge, where you just kill random people, it shouldn't be barred from the competition. Of course no one would want to play it because the game would just plain suck, so it probably wouldn't be nominated. Then again, from everything I've heard, SCRPG is not any fun to play either.
        • by KDR_11k (778916)
          If it's not entertaining it can still get a place on artistic merit. But if it lacks both it's just a waste of time.
    • You obviously don't get the idea of an "independent" game festival. Slamdance was created by Sundance. They EXPECT edgy social commentary.
    • by 6ame633k (921453)
      "I mean, look, after all the WWII and Iraq Desert conflict style games that are out, let's face it, this SCRPG is not much different."

      Right? No one seems to have a problem with institutionalized violence. I think it's because we have adopted the mind set that "bad guys deserve to die!" Which would include would-be terrorists as well as the gangsters and prostitutes in GTA. If we marginalize people we don't feel any regret in killing them. Columbine crosses our imaginary line because they put a face an
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)
      Sure, it was stupid of Slamdance to allow SCMRPG to enter only to disqualify them at the end.

      "Allow"? They begged the author to submit the game! They actively solicited for its entry! They didn't have the balls to stand behind their own invitation!

      And the pressure to disqualify only came after it made it as a finalist! The sponsor that was threatening to pull out was fine with it being in the competition so long as it was confident SCMRPG had no chance of winning!
    • by Vellmont (569020) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:29PM (#17546532)

      Seriously, although I am not for disqualifying the SCRPG, how would you feel about a new FPS entering the contest called Maryland Sniper? Remember the guy who was sniping innocent people coming out of the parking lot or attempting to use a gas pump? Would that be an acceptable entry as well?

      Sure, why not? I'm not sure why you're disqualifying an entry because some people will be offended. There's a difference between what's socially acceptable (whatever that means) and what's an acceptable entry in a competition. If "Maryland Sniper" has some kind of redeeming quality and is a good game, why not? If it's a poor game, and just trying to be "controversial" then it's a poor entry.

      As to your arguments about "where the line is", it's not really relevant. What offends people is different for each person. I'm offended by the idiotic "Left Behind" game. I'd never buy it, I think people who play it and take it seriously are religious wackos, but I don't really care if someone puts it in a competition. "Where the line is" only matters to someone trying to sell the game (which was never the goal with SCMRPG), and even then you can only define it in terms of a percentage of the population. Hell, I'm sure there's some nutjobs out their that think there's something wrong with pac-man because he's a glutton that's always eating and is never satiated.

      As for SCMRPG, I've played it and found it to be a poor entry into the competition because it's a poor game. Not because it might offend someone, "cross the line", or is "innapropriate". Frankly I think it was included in the competition purely because it covers a controversial subject. Then someone higher up heard about it, and decided that "the money guys won't like it", so they pulled it. Pretty lame if you ask me.
      • Vellmont pretty much nailed it. The "line" is a red herring. The problem here is a double-standard with other media. Why is it okay to have controversial movies at these festivals, but not controversial games?

        I have no mixed feelings about this at all. The double-standard isn't acceptable.
      • by Bahumat (213955)
        Oddly, I'm an atheist, but I think the Left Behind game's concept sounds like a hell of a lot of fun. It's a riveting theme, in my opinion. But again, it's all about that separation between fantasy and reality.
    • by adavies42 (746183)
      There is no goddamn line. If the Slamdance invited the game where you played a concentration camp commander, it would be OK with me. They'd lose all their sponsors in about five seconds, and that'd be OK too, but that's what the free market's for. Welcome to free speech.
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @03:26PM (#17544196)
    I've played this game, and it's quite bad. I'd say it's as bad, or worse than "Custers Revenge" [wikipedia.org] the Atari 2600 "rape an American Indian" game which I also played once on an emulator. Though to "Custers Revenge" credit, they didn't try to claim some garbage about it being art, games changing the world, or whatever.

    The interview of the game developer is pretty funny. He sounds like a freshman humanities 101 paper using phrases like

    "but for me it helps to inform one of the core ideas of the game: a criticism of the conventions of gaming in part to critique the limitations games currently have to deal with regards to genuine issues."


    and gems like:

    "It was a courageous, progressive gesture because it suggested that maybe gaming could be growing up a bit and face the music that all forms of art can be valid tools for societal exploration"


    Sadly being kicked out of Slamdance is going to give this guy far more press than he deserves. No, not because he created something controversial.. but because he created a crappy game with no subtlety and just expected everyone to accept that "all forms of art can be valid tools for societal exploration".

    Here's a clue to this guy. If you want your "art" to be accepted as a "valid tool for societal exploration", you just might want to create something that doesn't suck monkey-dick. Then that whole "it's art and changing peoples opinions of what a game is" thing might have a bit more validity.
    • Here's a clue to this guy. If you want your "art" to be accepted as a "valid tool for societal exploration", you just might want to create something that doesn't suck monkey-dick. Then that whole "it's art and changing peoples opinions of what a game is" thing might have a bit more validity.

      Yeah, I know. What really gets me is that the same force is alive and well in art. I mean, if this [abcgallery.com] looks like two humans on a beach, then I'm Yul Brynner.

      Why don't you just admit that you don't get it, and save yo

      • by Vellmont (569020)

        Why don't you just admit that you don't get it, and save yourself the time of making such an ignorant statement?

        The emperor has no clothes. [wikipedia.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Why don't you just admit that you don't get it, and save yourself the time of making such an ignorant statement?

        Have you played SCMRPG? It doesn't deserve comparison on any level to a Picasso. It's tedious, repetative, only mildly disturbing (and only in that it's loosely based around a real event), and built on a tired, over-simplistic and worn-out RPG interface. The further you get into the game, the more apparent all of this becomes.

        There's no subtle emotion, no master grand image, no deep lesson

        • by drinkypoo (153816)
          There's no subtle emotion, no master grand image, no deep lessons, no delving into the minds murderous teenagers. There's nothing to "get." Really. Sometimes monkey poo is just that - monkey poo.

          And what I'm saying is that art made out of poop is still art, even if it's poop. It doesn't have to be great art to be art; any art is worthy of protection just as any other expression that doesn't hurt anyone is.

          • And what I'm saying is that art made out of poop is still art, even if it's poop. It doesn't have to be great art to be art; any art is worthy of protection just as any other expression that doesn't hurt anyone is.
            I'm with you on the "it's art" train, worthy of public expression and free speech protection. I'm mostly disappointed that it's not great art - hence my objection to the Picasso comparison. Not very poetic, ya know? ;-)
          • by Vellmont (569020)

            It doesn't have to be great art to be art; any art is worthy of protection just as any other expression that doesn't hurt anyone is

            And I don't have any problem with the game existing, with someone entering it in a competition, etc. What I do have a problem with is someone calling garbage a rose. This game is garbage, it doesn't convey anything of value. I'm not even really offended by it, I just think it's a bad game that should have been remained obscure and unknown. I won't get into the "is it art" de
    • Just because you don't like the game, it doesn't mean that it hasn't made people think. "Monkey-dick" is just your perception but the game made you think. So it was a valid tool for societal exploration.

      Is Pollock Jackson [ibiblio.org] less of an artist than Hieronymus Bosch [ibiblio.org] or than Botticelli [ibiblio.org]?

      The "Freshman humanities 101" reference makes you sound like you're a condescending jerk, but the "monkey-dick" comment was pretty funny.

      I've got an original copy of Custers Revenge. I just thought, "Man, what a screwed up game"
      • by Vellmont (569020)

        Just because you don't like the game, it doesn't mean that it hasn't made people think. "Monkey-dick" is just your perception but the game made you think.

        What a load of bullshit. You know what it made me think? It made me think "Why the hell did the idiots at slamdance ever think this junk was worth considering for a competition?"

        Sheesh. Making someone think is hardly worthy of note.

        Is Pollock Jackson less of an artist than Hieronymus Bosch or than Botticelli?

        I don't know what being more, or less of an a
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by chimpo13 (471212)
          You know what it made me think? It made me think "Why the hell did the idiots at slamdance ever think this junk was worth considering for a competition?"

          Look how worked up you are about it. It's more than you thinking "why was this worth consideration"?

          Art isn't easily defined. Just because you don't agree with something doesn't make any difference.

          I've been in plenty of bands and I never think of them as "art" even if other people do. It's just something fun. A lot of people think of bands I'm in as "s
          • by Vellmont (569020) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:47PM (#17546898)

            Look how worked up you are about it. It's more than you thinking "why was this worth consideration"?

            I get pissed off at the moronic government of George W Bush too. Is he now "good art"? You seem to think I really care about SCMRPG. What pissed me off is the people trying to fool other people by dangling the word "art" in front of something, hynotizing them until their brains shut off. It has nothing to do with SCMRPG, and everything to do with the people who're in the "art above all" camp.

            Art isn't easily defined. Just because you don't agree with something doesn't make any difference.

            I don't care if it's "art" or not. Call it art, fine. Say it's not, fine. All I know is that it's a poor game.

            My problem with the whole "art" defense is that it becomes the ultimate shield for some people. Say to such a person you think it sucks, and they come back with "Ohh.. well you just don't UNDERSTAND IT!" As if the given is that it's "art" and if you don't respect it in some way, you've "missed the point".
  • Now only half the original entrants remain. This whole thing is going to seriously hurt whatever reputation slamdance had and hoped to have in the future.
  • ...Roll over

    And it looks like we're down to 7. [slamdance.com]. Nick Montfort's Book and Volume [nickm.com] is no longer listed with a brief statement here [nickm.com].
  • "Hahaa" To Slamdance for losing its credibility for fear of a frivolous lawsuit.
  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @04:52PM (#17545780)
    From the ars technica interview [arstechnica.com]:
    Mr. Baxter issued statements months ago equivocating videogames to films in terms of importance and artistic potential.

    I think that was meant to be "equating" not "equivocating".

    An astute editor should have corrected it if it was not what was said, replaced it using square brackets to denote a substitution, or otherwise noted the error. As it stands, it isn't clear whether it is the interviewer's error or the interviewee trying to importantalize his statementarisms by inflaterizing his syllabilical count.
  • by kalirion (728907) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:48PM (#17547928)
    For some of the developers who's games were nominated for the finals, this was a dream come true. Now the best they can hope out of the situation is to make a statement by withdrawing...
  • Finally someone who has played the Columbine RPG

    Clive Thompson over at Wired wrote an article entitled "I, Columbine Killer"

    http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,72491-0.html?t w=rss.index [wired.com]

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