BY MARTIN KICH
On January 26, AFEC-AAUP and the Visual and Media Arts department of Emerson College hosted Danny Ledonne, one of Emerson College’s most controversial graduates.
Ledonne (‘04) spoke about artistic and academic freedom after a screening of his critically praised documentary film, Playing Columbine, which explores the controversy created by his video game, Super Columbine Massacre RPG! He and Emerson faculty member David Kociemba then led a discussion of the film, the video game, and the controversies that have continued to surround them.
A seminal work in the serious games movement, the video game was singled out by the media as a “murder simulator” whose 16-bit graphics “trained” the 2006 Dawson College shooter, but it also sparked a censorship controversy when it was removed from the list of finalists at the 2007 Slamdance Guerrilla Gamemaker Competition. When half the finalists and a sponsor pulled out of the festival in protest, it showed that the game had ardent defenders as well as staunch critics.
Nonetheless, this past year, this video game was used as a pretext to bar Ledonne from Adams State University as a security threat in the midst of a dispute with administrators over his campus advocacy for faculty and staff.