Arthouse Games
News: SCMRPG Yanked from Slamdance
by jcr13Friday, January 5, 2007 [5:39 pm]

On the heels of my review of Super Columbine Massacre RPG! comes some disturbing news: the game has been pulled from the Slamdance game festival.

I heard the story first from Grand Text Auto. I'll collect links to other coverage here as the story unfolds:

Read the original coverage at Kotaku.

N'Gai Croal posts a scathing critique of Slamdance's decision.

A discussion clocking 30+ comments is brewing over at GamePolitics.

The game Braid is withdrawn from Slamdance in protest.

More at Kotaku about why SCMRPG was pulled and the twin story at Rocky Mountain News.

Ian Bogost has posted some interesting analysis (with a nice graphic of Slamdance's tombstone) on Water Cooler Games.

The venerable Raph Koster joins the fray.

Greg Costikyan of Manifesto Games (a Slamdance sponsor) posts a response, and a friend of his posts a rebuttle.

Last year's Grand Jury Prize winners post an open letter to Slamdance.

My new conspiracy theory (which I don't really believe): The entire series of events was a publicity stunt by the Slamdance organizers. I recall seeing the list of finalists back in November and being shocked that SCMRPG was included (I was shocked that they would pick such a controversial game). Since then, I've played the game (and written a review of it), and I thought I understood why they picked it (because it is very good). According to Danny Ledonne (that game's creator), the festival approached him and asked him to submit his game. Try searching Slashdot for the word "Slamdance". There has been nothing posted about it since 2004. Well, now that they've yanked SCMRPG, there's something posted on Slashdot about Slamdance. There's tons of stuff posted about Slamdance all over the gaming web... but before yesterday, Slamdance publicity was dead. So, the distilled theory: Invite a super-controversial game to the festival, nominate it as a finalist, leave it listed as a finalist for more than a month, then yank it at the last minute as a pre-festival publicity stunt.

Everyday Shooter is withdrawn from Slamdance in protest.

flOw is withdrawn in protest.

Once Apon a Time is withdrawn in protest.

Toblo is withdrawn in protest.

Various Slamdance finalists sign an open letter to the festival organizers.

Slamdance posts an official statement on their games page. They are also removing games from the page that have been withdrawn in protest.

MTV News runs a story.

Book and Volume is withdrawn in protest.

USC Interactive Media withdraws sponsorship from Slamdance.

Sam Roberts (Slamdance Games organizer) writes:

I wanted to let you all know that we have changed the Sunday panel at this year's gaming competition to be a discussion on games as art, censorship, and the recent situation regarding our festival and Super Columbine Massacre RPG. Many of you will no longer be attending the event, but for those who are, or who are not entering but may be considering attending, I felt it worth informing you. I hope this panel will provide an opportunity to air many of the issues that have arisen over the last month.

I post an open letter to the other finalists.

Sam Roberts (Slamdance Games organizer) writes more:

Its been a rough couple of days, and we now sit with half of the competition entrants removed or having bowed out. Wešve talked in the office, and I wanted to make an appeal to you about participation, and Peter has wanted to reinforce some of his reasons and points that he does not believe have been effectively communicated.

Firstly, I do want to say that I understand the decisions you have all made to this point, and the desire to not participate in a competition you believe is unfair and prejudiced against your art form. My personal appeal to you is that the best way for us to reform this competition, and to improve it for the future is to get together and talk about this decision, why it was made, how we can prevent a similar decision from being made in the future, and how we can improve the organizations methods and goals. I think the best way to do this is at our event in Park City. For those who have already decided to pull their games, Peter and I would urge you to attend and discuss this with us ­ make your views heard here in the organization.

Secondly, we want to reiterate that this was a decision made to protect the organization and to preserve our ability to create events like this and assist filmmakers, writers, and gamemakers. The simple fact is that Peter has been repeatedly advised that screening the Columbine game was actionable. Slamdance has neither the resources nor ability to defend itself in a drawn out civil action ­ it would be an end to the organization. Further, we are a part of the community in Park City and Salt Lake City, and the expressed moral outrage we heard was strongly centered in the place this festival calls home. Neither of these circumstances excuses the choice that has been made, but let us now begin this conversation with an open understanding of all sides of the issue.

eToychest posts a feature about the controversy.

Toblo is forced to rejoin the competition against the wishes of the development team.


[Submit Comment]
by PatrickSaturday, January 6, 2007 [9:15 pm]

You might be right about the publicity stunt thing, I considered it myself when I heard Director Peter Baxtor removed it as a personal decision. I suspect they'll reinstate it after a few more teams threaten to withdraw their games, and there'll be a nice story arc crystallized for media consumption. Whether that story is fabricated or genuine is irrelevant at that point, but that is how conspiracy theories tend to work.


by josh g.Tuesday, January 9, 2007 [11:34 am]

I really like how the official statement can't even get the name "Super Columbine Massacre RPG!" right. Great job, guys, way to show you care.


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