School Board Ponders Student's Counter-strike Map of his School

May 2, 2007 -
A Texas school board is divided over the case of a student who played Counter-strike using his high school as the backdrop.

Meanwhile, the local Chinese community has rallied in support of the boy.

As reported by the Houston Chronicle, the Fort Bend Independent School District could not reach a decision on whether to reinstate the senior, who was transferred to an alternative school.

The case began on the day following the Virginia Tech rampage, when school officials learned that the 17-year-old boy played Counter-strike on his home computer using a map of Clements High as the setting.

Readers may recall that while the Virginia Tech shooting incident was unfolding, anti-game attorney Jack Thompson predicted on national television that the perpetrator would be a Counter-strike player. A day later the Washington Post reported that 23-year-old killer Cho Seung Hui had played Counter-strike in high school. However, the Post subsequently withdrew that portion of its coverage. It is unclear whether those news reports may have elevated specific concerns about Counter-strike in this case.

Local police evaluated the student's PC and determined that no criminal charges were warranted. School officials, however, decided that disciplinary steps were called for. District spokesperson Mary Ann Simpson said:
This goes back to Columbine. Ever since that horrid incident took place schools today have to take every incident that is reported very seriously. And they have to impress upon students how serious this type of thing is. We can't joke about things or take things lightly anymore.

School Board member Stan Magee, however, believes district officials were too harsh in their discipline:
I think we overreacted as a result of the Virginia Tech ordeal. He did it at his house. Never took anything to school. Never wrote an ugly letter, never said anything strange to a student or a teacher, nothing.

Trustee Ken Bryant agreed that local police needed to be involved but also felt that school officials overreacted:
I don't want to fault our police for trying to protect us. But once the evidence was found and looked at, I see no compelling reason why this child should not have been sent back to his original campus.

According to Fort Bend Now, the student is of Chinese origin. Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung Hui was Korean. In the wake of the incident, local members of the Chinese-American community have joined in support of the boy. Richard Chen, who heads the Fort Bend Chinese-American Voters League said the student taught himself how to create mods for Counter-strike. Said Chen:
They arrested him and also went to the house to search. All he did was create a map and put it on a web site to allow students to play. The mother thinks this is too harsh.

...The principal has to do something – but how much? We do understand with the Virginia Tech incident…something has to be done. Someone just made a mistake, and we think the principal should understand that.

William Sun told school board members that, in the wake of Virginia Tech, the Asian community faces a backlash:
We urge the school and community not to label our Asian students as terrorists.

No decision was reached on the boy's status because a quorum of school board members could not be assembled for a proposed special meeting on the case.

Joystiq has more. A TV News station in Houston has a video report as well as a copy of the police report.

Comments

Re: School Board Ponders Student's Counter-strike Map of his

Now fellow americans....

i just wanna say i thing to the chinese student who brought up this debate...

DON"T MESS WITH TEXAS

HAHA!!! WTH is up with this principal?!?! It isnt for training, its for fun. custom maps have been based off of real-world and familiar places for years. It gives it that familiar feeling and isnt everyone tired of train stations and space ships for levels? if i played counter strike i would do the same thing. this is so rediculous, its almost funny.

I AGREE WITH FATHER TIME.... LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES A RE POINTLESS AND JUST ANOTHER WAY TO STEREOTYPE AND DIVIDE PEOPLE INSTEAD OF UNITING THEM.

@Richeard

Why are you blaming liberals for this? Anyone can see this was not poltically motivated and it is just paranoia and stupidity at its finest.

hi, your all controlled.
do somthing about it go here -universalseed.org/

I don’t want to fault our police for trying to protect us. But once the evidence was found and looked at, I see no compelling reason why this child should not have been sent back to his original campus.

i wouldnt want anything like that to happen at my school bt i am a HUGE counter-strike fan but he took it to far.

School Board Ponders Student’s Counter-strike Map of his School...

...

I think is overreaction.

There is no possible way to "Train" on a computer game to act out what you want to accomplish.

I can remember a few times in my life when I thought it would be cool to have levels in games that were copies of the places I knew in the real world, not because I wanted to do anything bad but because I thought it would be cool.

I don't see why what he was doing at home was any of the schools business, sure I could understand if he was threating kids, but just because he has a level that looks like his school on a computer game you get to take disciplinary action against him? I mean is this what society is becoming... if you are a little bit different we will punish you?

I remember that years ago I wanted to make a map for Counter-Strike re-creating my University. But, of course, it was not for training at all : I just thought it would be a good Battlefield. Anyway, I also though about making a CS map recreating my own house.

Gee whiz, my buddies and I played Doom custom maps set in high school and nobody batted an eyelash.

Different times, I suppose. I can certainly understand the concern, but it seems like due diligence was done and it is time for the kid to get back in class.

I actually made two maps of my highschool and one of my college for CS. I didn't do it to train, I just think it was a unique architectural layout.

I don't know about you, but sometimes when I was in class, I used to day dream... Sometimes I used to imagine big paintball tournys held at the school, where would our "base" be etc, woulda been fun, so I made a CS map.

Its also fun to play in familiar location. Who wants to run around generic Arabian village #22 fighting?

They've already proved that video games had nothing to do with the VT shooting so it's pretty obvious this wouldn't had happened if he weren't asian. Which ethic group is next? Indians?

This is absolute bullshit. I'd say severe overreaction.

When I was at college studying Computer Systems, we had to submit a Final Year Project at the end of the 4 year course. You could come up with whatever project you liked, as long as a member of the Computer Department agreed it was a worthwhile project and to be your supervisor/sponsor. Each memebr of the department had their own particular areas of study and interest and to help students, they posted up a list of suggestions for projects they would be happy to oversee.

One of those projects was to model the entire University of Limerick campus in the Unreal engine.

When a member of a respected faculty such as UL can see no harm in this, I fail to see why this boy is being reprimanded and investigated. I believe it is just backlash from the V. Tech shootings, where they are seeing an asian kid and linking that with the unproven ridiculous claims of "training" via video games, putting 2 and 2 together and coming out with "He's going to murder us all!".

If the guy had demonstrated the same kind of fascination with hatred and revenge, or the same disturbed behaviour as Cho Seung Hui had, then perhaps there would be cause for concern. When it is just a normal person being creative, there should not be this uproar.

What if he had made a likeness of the school out of Lego? Or drawn a scale map of the school? Would he be investigated for that? As it stands I see no difference in rendering a likeness of the school, no matter the medium.

It is unfortunate that there is going to be a blanket "condemnation" or at least scrutiny of asian students because of this, just as nerdy people in trenchcoats were viewed with suspicion after columbine, or Muslims in neighbourhoods were watched more closely after 9/11.

One last thing I would like to point out about the "training" you can get from a video game. In Counterstrike, you are playing against other players who are shooting back at you. In any school shooting, people will panic, try and escape, some might be frozen with terror, some will hide. In some cases people will show incredible bravery and try to protect others such as the lecturer in V Tech. Are we to assume that artificial intelligence can accurately predict the reactions of people in a situation such as that? It's laughable to even suggest this.

Big Overreaction! They just looked at the map and assumed he was going to do something. The article didn't fully go into it but it sounds like he didn't have any other signs of having issues.

Like some of the other posters here I thought as well it would be cool to have a game map of my school or neighborhood when playing. Nothing beats playing on a map of the someplace you really know.

Counter-strike is terrorists versus special forces, not crazies versus students.

I've often thought about real-life places in terms of FPS-ability or even in terms of paintball-ability. Using familiar locations, or real-life ones, in cops-and-robbers type of play is not a crime.

This kid's only crime was being an Asian-American that plays Counter-strike after VT.

Who hasn't at some point considered making a map of their school/workplace for their favorite game?

Can't say if what they were doing is related to being a race thing, and I also don't blame the Chinese-American community backing the kid up. However, back in the day I created DOOM maps for just about anywhere I had ever been. Like a previous poster mentioned, it's just fun to play in a specific place. When I originally created my maps I was more doing it to see how close I could model the real world in a game engine (which is pretty darn hard in DOOM since certain structures are impossible to model).

What I think is more of a problem is now people's liberties are going to be violated over these "infractions." I mean so now if you were to make a CS map of a public place you're going to have the police involved? What happens if someone downloads your map (maybe only plays it once) and then goes and flips out? Are you liable?

We all know that computers are used to train airline pilots. Therefore, computers can train kids to run around with guns and shoot people. It's a perfect one to one correlation. They both use a simple point and click interface. There is your connection!

What business is it of any school district what takes place outside of school sponsored activities?

This just sounds ridiculous. It's like you can't condemn these actions enough! This kid went to the trouble to learn how to build a map and he designed one of his school.

Here's an idea: Rather than punish him, encourage and reward him. Hell maybe even help him get into computer programming or video game design school. He's obviously shown an interest in that field. According to the Joystiq article, he won't even be allowed to take place in "graduation ceremonies". Does this mean he won't be allowed to graduate? This would be even worse!

I think we've all thought of places that would make interesting maps. Counterstrike in school or the mall? Halo in a theme park? The Airport? Movie Theater? A store? Building these maps wouldn't mean you were gonna go on a shooting rampage. It would just mean you would love the challenge of going down the toy aisle, while worrying of an ambush coming from sporting goods. You should only worry if they populate the map with avatars based on real defenseless people, where the objective is to kill them. If the objective is to protect them, you may have a little issue for worry, but it could just be an interesting challenge (or a way to act out the powerless frustration we all share at the Virginia Tech shootings).

I'm not familiar with map-building. Could you even put people into the maps? And, if so, can you place mission objectives on them, like kill or protect?

This really isn't as big a deal as the school board thinks it is.

Everyone with The Sims has recreated their family/home. Everyone with a Wii has used the Mii Channel to recreate his/herself, family and friends. Look how many real-life theme parks have been recreated in the Rollercoaster Tycoon games, and how many cities you find people have made in SimCity. This is no different.

Basically, when people are given access to any kind of map building tools for a game, they will always want to recreate the familiar.

Personally, I built my college's music department using the rudimentary editor in TimeSplitters 2, and the Resident Evil mansion on Unreal Tournament 2004. I'm about to start learning Hammer (the Source world building tool), and I will probably do something similar.

As for the school shooting "training simulator" issue, exactly how is playing a tactical game of terrorists vs. counter-terrorists online especially representative of shooting up a school?

@Gameboy

It really depends on the game.

Some games allow you to place NPCs in the game some don't, I'm not too sure about Counter Strike but I would imagine you could place the same objectives that you have on any other maps Counter Terrorists rescue the hostages and terrorists do what terrorists do.

I still don't see why this was any issue with the school, I mean he was on his own computer playing the map is that really the schools business?

I'm Sure all the WASD and click will train him to be a hardcore killer! b82 b84 b41 go go go! (/sarcasm)

When I was in high school we played CS, UT, Starcraft and quake 3 in school and no one cares, now you can't even play it at home without these people being on your case.

It's interesting to note that there's no mention of them investigating the students who downloaded the map. Seems like a double standard to me.

So was he playing a terrorist that plan to blow-up his school or did he play a conter-terrorist to heroically save his school?

I do not think they overreacted. You need to check on any possible threat to a school's safety. However, that's the police job, not a school board job. Once the police investigated, found that no criminal charges were warranted and that the kid was no threat (according to one of the two papers) the school board needs to come to their senses and readmit the kid into their school.

They're not people qualified to decide if he is a potential threat, the police is. Once the police has made sure he wasnt planning a school shooting the school board should not punish the kid because of their own insecurities. Like school board member Bryant said "I don't want to fault our police for trying to protect us. But once the evidence was found and looked at, I see no compelling reason why this child should not have been sent back to his original campus,". He's one of the two sane members of that school board.

And personally, I'd love a mod of my workplace. Not because I think it would make a great setting (it would) but because I need vent about it a little. I'd even like some skins of a few of my bosses but I would never think of bringing a gun there. I don't own one and wouldn't even know where to buy one (that's Canada for you). Maybe a knife, so I can slash their car tires, just kidding.

Forgot to mention, there is a Wal-Mart, Mcdonalds, Burgerking, Bestbuy, and many other real places as CS maps, lets use the school boards thinking and go on lock down of whole country! Someone is training on counter-strike to get Wal-Mart! (/sarcasm)

When I was 15 (1994), I made a doom WAD of my high school. I showed it to a few of my teachers, and they thought it was funny.

How times change.

BIG overreaction! what in the States is going on down there! what about the kids who played that map? Their parents saw and complained to the one who made that map and what about punishing their own kids by sending them elsewhere like they did to that poor guy?

I wonder what's the students' reactions? I hope they're better than the adults around them.

Everything that is done there is so hypocritical and hysterical, i'm rooting for that guy. Glad to be living in Canada!

This is not only crazy, but an invasion of his privacy, if he wasn't doing anything wrong. Also, I do believe the school board has no right to do anything, since this didn't happen on campus.

Unfortunately, the government doesn't seem to think so, and will likely take this into evidence that video games kill people. It seems the constitution is very selective about who gets what rights. In this case, it seems that protection from unlawful search and seizure applies only if you aren't part of some ethnic group that was recently involved in a school shooting, no offense to Asians.

@CyberSkull

QFFT. Seriously, I cant think of how many custom maps of real world locations we made for games. I think we had:

my highschool
my grade school
2 local shopping centers
US Airways arena
Local waterfront

and many more realistic locals. Were they perfect scale replicas? No not at all. However, real life provides amazing architecture to use in games. It is also much more fun to sit down an play when there is no question of knowing the maps(we lived in them).

I totally believe he did this just to do it. How many artists practice by drawing what they know, how many authors draw from personal experience in their writings. Same principle, different medium.

This school district stepped WAY out of line. This was an invasion of privacy to the extreme. Yes, the school needed to notify the parent, but that is the extent of their jurisdiction. This was done at home, distributed on private servers, nothing to do with the govt at all.

His punishment was the responsibility of the parents, not the state. Yes the parent should sit down and talk to the kid to see why they did it. If he was seriously just learning and had no issues, that should be the end of it.

How many places will ban Counter Strike now?

Sheesh. So if I were to make a map based on a place I knew in real life, would I become a danger to society?

Paranoia, the little whizzing cog that keeps most american insitutions going.

This is horrible. What the hell is happening to our freedom of speech? I used to make levels of my school in Doom for the fun of it. I for one do not welcome our Fascist overlords.

Personally, I say call Knight Rider, after all, didn't he go after organisations that considered themselves above the law?

The Police have said this person is no danger, but, apparently, school officials know better than specially trained officers of the peace and can feel free to ignore their opinion.

Is this how low the average schools opinion of the Police is?

So they arrested him, and transfered him to another school in his senior year? I'd say overreaction. I understand people are on edge after VT (whether it's logical or not), but he didn't deserve all this!

According to the Houston Chronicle story, the school learned of this from a report made the day after the VT shootings. I'm guessing another student knew about this custom map prior and freaked when he heard about what happened in Virgina, and reported this kid.

Not that I'm sure, but it's possible this is being taken way out of context. Back in the day I used to make maps of familiar locations on Duke Nukem 3d, but only because they were familiar and that made them fun to explore. For the same reason it's going to be fun for people who live in New York to play the new GTA game. It has absolutely nothing to do with the violence. Totally different appeal. I'm not saying this is that, but it could very well be.

Actually, what I'd like to know is who went runnin' to this board in the first place? I know that some school boards check Myspace, but now CS sites? I don't think they're that quick to pick up stuff, even if they are lies.

Huge overreaction by the 5-0 and school board. Aside from the numerous civil & constitutional rights violations, there appears to be no evidence the kid had done anything wrong or was planning to do anything wrong.

On top of that, schools are ideal for that sort of thing. I remember when Goldeneye came out, it occurred to me that the layout of my high school would be perfect for a multiplayer map.

Ah America where you can have so much freedom until people become paranoid and declare a witch hunt against you.

unless he reskinned characters to look like high school kids and teachers this should be a non-issue. all he did was recreate a large building with unique architecture. schools are the perfect place for this type of game. long hallways, lots of rooms to clear, multiple pathways through the building, large open areas (gymnasium, cafeteria, auditorium), lots of recessed doorways to step into (at least in newer buildings).

it sounds like it would just be an interesting place to play out a terrorist vs. military tactical assault scenario.

the second he skins his principal and that girl who spit on him in third period as characters on the opposing squad is the moment you go in and take him to a counselor.

"So was he playing a terrorist that plan to blow-up his school or did he play a conter-terrorist to heroically save his school?"

See, did anybody think about that? If a terrorist situation DID occur at the school, anybody playing the map might know the best points to move in at. *shot at* Seriously though, people only seem to want to focus on the Terrorist aspect of Counter-strike, and not the counter-terrorist aspect.

I'm glad they rooted through the kid's house. Why? Let's face it...if they had actually found any of those things, we'd all be saying "Thank god they caught the kid before he took anybody out", even as we complained about the media blaming video games.

I do think the school board overreacted with the suspension, though. Especially because if he does transfer back to his original school, the rumor mill's already beaten this one to death and his last few months are going to be hell.

-P

Wait, the kid was transferred to a different school because not enough board members could be bothered to show up at the meeting?

Personally, it seems to me the school is trying to offend and alienate this student.

If this is the level of ignorance towards students that this place normally shows then they genuinely have something to be concerned about, their own paranoia and discrimination, if applied as a general rule, could create the very situation they are trying to avoid.

Look at it this way, say there is a kid at that school who really does have anger management problems, he or she wants to talk to someone about these feelings of rage, but they've heard about this kid and how he got ostracised, humiliated and kicked out of the school because they were paranoid. What do you think the likelihood of that student talking to the school officials is going to be? They could have changed their ability of helping someone rebuild their life, and instead turned it into potential for another disaster.

I would be ecstatic if this happened to me. This kid has an air tight lawsuit against the school system for Title IX Discrimination, Invasion of Privacy, and breach of First Amendment Rights.
That is a BIG can of worms to open up.

My 2 pennies:

Video games are not the issue. At all, in any way, shape or form. Some nutcase with the psychotic tendances (like the v tech shooter, or the ones at columbine) were born / manufactured into insanity by thier environment. The argument that games are solely responsible is just plain stupid.

Alot of the time these maladjusted individuals with deep-seated psychiatric problems seek out bloodthirsty material, be it music, books, films, games or whatever.

There is no hard evidence that Cho Seung Hui played counterstrike - just blind rumours started by everyone's favourite simpleton attourney, corroborated at first by a newspaper, then retracted. But thats beside the point.

In this case the important questions weren't asked - does the kid own one or more handguns? Is he socially malajusted with tendancies towards (real) violence? Has he been 'flagged' by any teachers or classmates as a potential mass murderer?

America - if you want to stop these kind of mass murders then stop allowing these sick people access to guns. If they don't have this access to firearms then they can't go on rampages leaving the corpses of children in thier wake.

Media is an outlet for these psychos, but not a cause, because the causes are in thier genetic makeup and early childhood.

I feel sorry for this kid - he's just learnt that creativity and innovation is wrong. And the judgement was, in part, made by someone (Mary Ann Simpson) who repeated 'incident' twice and 'things' three times in three short sentances.

This is just another scapegoat for peope to use so that parents don't have to blame themselves for horrible parenting and control of their own children.

Overboard in Sugar Land...

Normally I’m all for taking precautionary steps to prevent school shootings. However this is ridiculous.
A student from Clements High School in Sugar Land, Texas is in hot water after making a Counter-Strike map based on the layout of his high sc...
 
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