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.


Should we be so quick to judge for fear of the consequences? Is our freedom of speech and expression worth the value of the lives that could potentially be lost? There is absolutely no proof of any legitimate “wrongdoing” here and it shows. No one made any threats, there appear to be no plans, and common sense has been thrown out the window in favor of wild-eyed conspiracy from the school board. There will be people who will try and make a connection to the Virginia Tech Massacre, but they can only rely on scraps of evidence in order to establish a correlation. Unless the student has been found to harbor deep-seeded emotions of hatred and aggression and is found to be mentally unstable, I honestly feel that the school board has embellished the facts of this case due to the proximity of the incident at Virginia Tech.
What I am trying to ask is where does proof of an act to commit terror actually begin? I believe that no one truly knows until clear-cut threats have been made and detailed plans are found. Until then, you are infringing upon a person’s natural rights.

aniki21 Says:
Wait, the kid was transferred to a different school because not enough board members could be bothered to show up at the meeting?

They didn't show up because the "meeting circumvented the district's disciplinary process." Aka, "we're right, no discussion." And they sent him to the M.R. Wood Alternative Education Center. I HATE IT when are "potentially dangerous/problem kids" are thrown into the special ed schools. HUGE difference between autism and what you believe this kid and capable of doing. The biggest threat to the students is this school board's poor decision making.

Cyberskull is on target. If you have any kind of involvement with FPS mapping communities, you learn that one of the first type of maps that mappers think of making is a familiar place ... and for school age mappers ... that place is often a high school or college. Not because they have Columbine-type fantasies, but because they know those spaces and think it would be fun to fight in them in a virtual sense. Totally normal. And of course, whenever the subject came up, I would point out that it was probably also a bad idea ... for all the reasons that the critics come up with. Non-gamers would misinterpret it and find sinister motivations. Essentially, it would be bad PR for games.

Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ....

Gawd forbid these people find out I looked at my University's Engineering building and went "Wow, what a great location for a lasertag/paintball tournament." That place had so many twists and turns, and hiding holes, and dead ends, and mutli-level open areas, that it would have make a fantastic CS map...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

I would say "Schools would make good Paintball arenas" but I have never played Paintball and virtual versions don't leave messes of paint to clean up.

This is REALLY pissing me off.

What's next? Turn in the next art student whose abstract paintings of murder and mayhem "disturb" the general population? Or the next death metal group whose lyrics talk about death and mutilation?

ID Software, Valve and any other developer who depends on the mod community for their continued wealth gathering should immediately come out to speak in behalf of this kid. As well as ECA and ESA.

sometimes you go into a building and you think "wow, this would make a great map for a FPS."

there's nothing wrong with this.

appearantly, playing video games and digitally recreating real world maps is unusual. You need a reason like terrorism to do it.. it can't be for plain entertainment.

I thought that was what everyone did. Faced with a freshly-downloaded mapping program and a blank canvas, don't you usually try to recreate something you know? Moreover, it works in reverse too. Who hasn't looked out on rolling hills and seen chokepoints for an archer ambush? You just know that planter would make an awesome kicker to that handrail on the stair set. And can anyone, in all honesty, say that for a few weeks after playing Thief they didn't see just how perfect that shadow is near that scalable wall?

People see something and associate it to other, similar things in their memory. This isn't just normal, it's a vital tool for surviving in life.

hmmm so i always wanted a hannifords map. does that mean im training to attack a grocery store?

You have a 3-D editor that allows you to create a structural environment like a house or a building, so what building do you create? Does it surprise anyone that you might model, as your first attempt, an environment in which you are most familiar? A school is an especially sensible choice, since your home would not be large enough to fit the requirements. Anyone playing around with that 3-D editor for more than a few minutes would start designing either their workplace or school or where they are putting their in eight hours a day.

Out-and-out racism would be one rational way to view their decision, given the past history of the area. Otherwise, these people do not seem to be thinking rationally.

I used Zelda Classic to make a map based on my old high school. I don't really think anybody would have seen that as a threat, even though the Goriyas did vaguely resemble my favorite teacher (though given that they were balding and had goatees, they really resembled the entire English department).

I can see the gray area here -- an FPS is a whole lot different from a top-down NES game, and I can see how it might be more unnerving seeing someone walk down the halls of the school with a gun in a 3D, first-person view. I can see how this might be worth investigating.

But if the guy has no history of psychological problems, doesn't own any guns, and in general does not appear to be a threat, this is no grounds for expulsion. Legally, they don't have a leg to stand on here.

the creative process has a foundation in reality. all great works of art are grounded in reality. this kid has done what any great artist / novellist / musician does...

he has made art based on his experiences.

what else do we expect of people? this stuff should be in a museum. his experiences are most likely very similar to every other kid in the western world. i personally made a doom map of the university i went to over 10 years ago and suspect that countless others have done the same since.

anybody know where we can download the map to play it?

First kids get arrested for making threats now all you have to do is make a game map. Anyone see the slippery slope in effect here?

How about we secure our schools instead of taking away our freedoms and rights?

Chalk me up in the over-reaction camp. I don't think this is a good reason to go after the kid. It might be interesting info if there were some other reason to look at the kid (threatening letters, emotional trouble), but like everyone else is saying: If you make a map, you often make it about something you know. As was pointed out, schools make particularly good areas for a game like Counter-Strike.

And seriously, what if the guy was living out his fantasy? What if his fantasy is to be a special ops soldier who saves a school full of kids taken hostage? Is that a bad thing now?

This is a self-reinforcing delusion. They think school shootings have something to do with video games, so they freak out about video games and connect them to school shootings.

30 GOTO 10, etc.

...this taught me something: weapons are easy to control.

Who needs basic training for weapons? All you need is "WASD" and a mouse and you can kill using an gun!

I know how to operate M249 SAWs now, yay!

Time to train how to use an gravity gun in HL2...cause I might see one of them in reality...

This over reacting is probably going to last for a while. I was watching news that 2 schools were shutdown cause a kid brought a toy gun to school.

i agree here with a few people this is way overreacting on something that shouldnt have turned into a big deal

he just made the maps for fun so there is no harm in that and sadly that is how society is getting these days and thats how it is if you are strange then you get treated like you have very few rights or none at all

If I were that kid, I'd be making a call to the ACLU.

This may indeed be an overreaction, but I can't say I blame these members of the board who decided to take action given past criticism that not enough was done before shootings took place. This theme of failure to predict the tragedies beforehand must be taking its toll on those who are in a good place to do just that. It seems this was mishandled, and I expect that the student will be permitted back into his original school soon enough if half the board thinks they've gone too far. I can't blame them for be cautious about this.

Besides, I'm not so sure that this kid didn't expect any of this to happen if he made a CS:S map based on his own school.

@ Gameboy
In counterstrike source, both teams are punished by loss of money for damaging or killing the hostages. In no case is there a "target" other then the opposing team in which you are to kill.

Myself along with a few other student have had plans to model our school library and science/engineering building for CSS because of their unique layouts. The one building is a maze, students who have studied there for three years still get lost in it when trying to find a room. We even thought of skinning the hostages, to look like some of the professor's (we decided however this was impractical)

It had nothing to do with disliking them, or wanting to shoot up the school it just was a really cool "what if". Unfortunately the buildings were to complex for the source engine at the time, We had only one of three floors mapped without textures, but the FPS and lag when playing just over the LAN made it worthless.

We also had plans to make scaled maps of Baghdad along with a couple other cities, that was just the first. Again we started, but unfortunately again it was in to much detail. We actually had the map, but we were never able to run it because it had more then 2500 models in it. We actually talked to professional modeling group and send in a help ticket to EA and one of their modelers just laughed when he saw our map.

If a counterstrike map is enough to suspend a kid and throw him out of school, what does making a map of a city make me? We make life like maps for fun, because it is entertaining as an idea, Not because we are planing action by them.

In a game where you are able to design maps, the goal is to create maps with interesting strategic and tactical ramifications. It is trivial to argue that a map based on institutional buildings, like a school, presents a very different challenge to players than one in a car park, a mansion estate, a limited city-scape, or a fantastic airship.
That someone would choose to create a map where these challenges exist is not at all surprising, nor is it indicative of any kind of malicious behavior. That someone would choose to model work they do upon something they know intimately, or fills them with some kind of narcissistic pleasure is also unsurprising and not at all indicative of malice, as evidenced by the large number of avatars in Maxis' theSims. Finally, that he would choose to allow his fellow students and net-friends to use this map implies that he does have a supportive and hopefully healthy peer group. It is ostracization (if that is a word) and a sense of either self-loathing or righteousness that seems (at least at first glance) to prompt these acts of wanton peer violence. That is to say, that he desired to share this content with his peers is evidence that he is at significantly reduced risk for such an act.
The only thing that is even vaguely suspicious is the possession of those decorative blades. Which, as the police point out, are rather more edged than a lead pipe, though probably not much more dangerous.

eh, that wasn't all at Gameboy, just the first paragraph. The rest is my opinion on this.

[...] Because he’s not so bright it seems. [...]

I believe this was a bunch of crock. I play viedogames (mostaly FPS) every day and i have no urge AT ALL to shot any oneor anything in real life. The only thing i feel is gratification that a annoying gamer was finaly killed

I believe this was a bunch of crock. I play viedogames (mostaly FPS) every day and i have no urge AT ALL to shot any oneor anything in real life. The only thing i feel is gratification that a annoying gamer was finaly killed

Heil America!

As stated an overwhelming amount of times. He just wanted to play game in a place he knew in the real world. Pretty much every gamer that plays First person shooters has thought of a real world place that would be cool to play in. I do understand the schools concerns but I think they overreacted a bit.

Trust me guys, oy. Those defenses are overused. I'm posting right now in a Fort Bend school, oy. I just heard it today too and it has got to be paranoia, oy. But I can understand. Most middle-age people like them know zero about the games of videos except from the having of sensationalist propaganda fed to all of them. I wish Haruhi Suzumiya(youtube her! wiki her! google her!, oy) would just come up running to them giving them a running jump kick. Saying that games cause violence is a lie made up by conservatives, oy.
Oh, yeah, oy. During the Renaissance, the Puritans came and shut down theatres and Shakespeare plays. But later the fans got back at them, oy.

My heart broke for this kid when I read the story. GamePolitics is such a rollercoaster sometimes; you got MC Thompson failing for the umpteenth time, and then this...

Has anyone gone through the Fort Bend comment thread? Everyone here is talking about the overreaction of the school officials in the context of VT, but many of the Fort Bend posters seem to think it is nothing more than political posturing due to their upcoming BoT elections. Nobody is talking about that here, and personally, if that is the case, I find that to be despicable on a whole other level.

Do people even understand that there are 2 sides to counter strike. When I was in college I created a map based on part of the campus. The map had 2 versions, one was a defusal map where the T's were trying to blow up one of the many strange pieces of art (the campus is one large outdoor sculpture park), the other version required the CT's to rescue hostages from inside one of the buildings.

Quite often you use what you know or have access to, as mentioned above. You are also forced to be selective on what you choose to build as there are limitations to the engine. If I were more creative I would have built a map from nothing, but lacking that creativity, I generally choose to use things I've seen as reference or inspiration.

If they're really afraid he's going to snap, it seems like going out of their way to ruin his life and stuff probably isn't the best way to deal with things...

I'm echoing that this is what everyone does. Every budding mapmaker will start by replicating their school/house/workplace. You'd have to arrest dozens of kids in every school if this were enforced evenly. When I was a kid, 3D engines didn't allow true bridges, or I would have done my school. I did do my house, though.

I know plenty of guys who make custom skins of their enemies (Jack Thompson skins are popular) and then shoot them up.

i never did one of my schools but back in the day when i used to map for doom i made one that looked like my house.

Watch out they are going to arrest the developers of Tom Clancy Rainbow Six Las Vegas next. they the developers at R* because they have created similar city maps.

I dont understand how video games are used to "train" killers. They can be used to strategies but not to train. Common who hasnt wanted to try out a football play they made on Madden? Or try to come up with some security setup u couldnt get pass in splinter cell? Hell I used to think it would be fun if people / "terrorist" attacked my school and I new the layout and I was able to beat them all.

Video games cant teach you to reload a gun in under a min. All we do is press a button. and yes we all can jump 10 feet in the air. And carry an arsenal of equipment up our a** like you do in Metal Gear. and learn how to fire a rocket launcher.

I m just waiting for when they start arresting LARP people because they enacted a scene at school that could be harmful if they didnt use nerf guns.

Its funny: the only people who seem to have any problem with separating reality from fiction (which is one of the big knocks and why anti game peopl hypothesize games might be dangerous) in regards to video games are the people who are critical of violent games. They look at this thing and in ignorance they think that it somehow is equivalent to a "threat". Whereas people who are familiar with games (for the most part) are easily able to see that what you do on a game is fiction and that its just fun to "play" in a familiar setting.

Heck, when i was in high school, for a about a week or two a bunch of budies and I played a variant of the live action game "Assassin" ( ) using the map of our school and water guns, plastic pea-shooter, nerf guns, and plastic disc guns, cardboard tubes (swords), etc (Basically anythign you could get your hands on and conceal that you could use to fire some harmless projectile accurately). Well actually we didnt use the map of the school, we just played it while at school during breaks and such (and sometimes not, its all part of the danger of being a teenager). This was all just a stepping up of earlier water gun/etc fights in the woods and fields out back behind one of our friends houses, transposed into a more familiar and more risky setting. While obviously that is technically against conduct rules (disruptive effects etc, plus im sure they had some rules about squirt guns on campus, and maybe even cardboard tubes), that no more represents a terrorist/shooting threat than anything this guy is doing by playing the same sort of thing but in a digital world - in fact that is better since he wasnt potentially breaking any rules of school by doing it during school time (i presume at least) because he was playing at home and in his spare time. Although that was all pre-Columbine, so im sure if we'd got caught today (which we didnt then either) wed all be kicked out of school because we were somehow threatening the school with squirt guns and cardboard tube samurai swords. Its just plain silly.

So instead of trying ot keep the violent games out of our (gamers) hands (when for the most part gamers have shown that they are as near to well-adjusted and 'normal' as the bulk of the population), they should be working to keep the games out of *their* hands. Because frankly, if an anti-game zealot really got into playing CS or GTA or something like that I actually am pretty bloody worried about what might happen given that they seem utterly unable to separate imaginary play from reality. (Or perhaps after they played a bunch they would suddenly be abel to surprise surprise tell fact form fiction and imagination from reality and problem solved)

So, are we getting closer to a country where designing a videogame map at home is an arrestible crime?


Time to take up arms, ironically.

@F**cked Up
They're not even that good for practicing strategy, especially if you're playing against other people. As much as CS looks like it could possibly be realistic, and has realistic elements, having untrained people playing both sides makes it useless as a tactical simulator.

Take your example of trying a play out of Madden, but substitute the idea of designing a play for Madden, without knowing the real intricacies of football. For example, you might design a play where you blitz all three linebackers and a safety while all four linemen also rush. It might work in the game, but in the real world the odds are that they'll all run into a big jumble and leave two or three guys open underneath.

That's what playing an FPS against other people is really like. You may be able to take out a bunch of other guys who don't really know what they're doing, but if you try something on actual trained people, you'll be boned.

This is not even remotely under the school's jurisdiction. This dude made a fricken map, he threatened no one, planned no crime, and does not deserve this insanity. There is also a rather insidious undercurrent of his race being a factor in his expulsion. If this MADNESS does not call for a storm of angry letters, I don't know what does.

So Cowboys and Indians, and Cops and Robbers are ok, but Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists aren't?

Seriously this is screwed up, and that school board needs replacing. Kids enjoying playing in familiar locals. This is just the high tech virtual version of running around the playground or the neighborhood with squirt guns. We don't blink an eye at teenagers having a good time paint balling, or playing laser tag so what's the problem with this? It's the same god damn thing, only done in a way that doesn't entail any mess to clean up.

Totally forgot to mention this before, but I've made a spoof of the place I work on the side for GTA. And assuming my team gets the contract, we'll be modeling real places for a serious game using the Source engine for a university. The game/mod thingy might even include *gasp* part of said university!1!!1 So, err, yea, everybody panic?

Anyhoo, you can have my map editor when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. Or something like that. :p

I'm going to share this story with my school administrator at HUSD, but my friends who are young parents are in awe that a school district could be so clueless.

overreaction much? like bombing Korea for Iraq or Afghanistan...oy vay.....

The whole thing seems very unconstitutional to me. On what basis is the school board allowed to kick this student out of their school. His only crime was creating a CS map based off of his highschool. Okay, so now we've established that creativity is a crime! I still can't believe they came to this decision after raiding his home and finding nothing criminal. There weren't any guns, and he didn't show any signs of mental problems. Ridiculous, ridiuclous, ridiculous. Oh well, it's not like the Bill of Rights mean anything these days anyway. *sadness*

you game makers and game players are training a new generation of mass murderers. studies show that children raised without violent images or idea in thier homes are significantly less violent in later life. all of you that are so obsessed with fantasizing about killing other people in the games that you play need to realize that you yourselfs are violent. you may not act it out in real life. but you are a violent person. and you are making the world a worse place. yes you. what is amazing about americans is that they can watch the most violent movies int ehw world, and play the most violent video games made, but when real violence, the kind that the rest of the real world lives in on a daily basis is visited upon them, they cry to the heavens. keep playing your games fat boys, keep getting weaker while the Jihad grows in strengh. wait until your hunted down like the very avatars you play. the bullet in your head will be a real one.

If i were him I would get a lawyer maybe appeal to the chinese community to help pay for it, I predict it would be a pretty easy win considering school rules should not apply outside the school . . . EVER, and this could very well be a violation of his rights. Crap such as this should not be tolerated from school districts, if it is discovered that the student had no previous record. I would love to see the school suffer because of this.


Either that was sarcasm, or someone is trying to remind us of a certain someone through (weaker) example.
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E. Zachary KnightPapa, Of course thre is. That has now become a permanent part of the EULA boilerplate template.07/29/2015 - 12:56pm
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Andrew EisenMatt - And AGAIN, you keep saying "accountable." What exactly does that mean? How is Gamasutra not accounting for the editorial it published? How is it not accountable to its readership (which, AGAIN, is primarily game industry folk, not gamers)?07/29/2015 - 10:10am
james_fudgeThat's the clean install, for anyone asking07/29/2015 - 9:23am
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TechnogeekMatts: There's a difference between "this person regularly says extremely terrible stuff" and "I don't like the phrasing used in this one specific editorial".07/29/2015 - 8:45am
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PHX Corp@Wilson, I'm still waiting for My upgrade notice aswell07/29/2015 - 7:57am
MattsworknameWilson: how? Im still waiting for my upgrade notice07/29/2015 - 3:44am
Matthew WilsonI updated to a clean instill of windows 10.07/29/2015 - 2:36am
Mattsworknameargue that it's wrong, but then please admit it's wrong on ALL Fronts07/29/2015 - 2:06am
MattsworknameTechnoGeek: It's actually NOT, but it is a method used all across the specturm. See Rush limbaugh, MSNBC, Shawn hannity, etc etc, how many compagns have been brought up to try and shut them down by going after there advertisers. It's fine if you wanna07/29/2015 - 2:05am
Mattsworknamediscussed, while not what I liked and not the methods I wanted to see used, were , in a sense, the effort of thsoe game consuming masses to hold what they felt was supposed to be there press accountable for what many of them felt was Betrayal07/29/2015 - 2:03am
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MattsworknameAndrew: Thats kind fo the issue at hand, Accountable is a matter of context. For a media group, it means accountable to its reader. to a goverment, to it's voters and tax payer, to a company, to it's share holders.07/29/2015 - 2:02am
Andrew EisenAnd again, you keep saying "accountable." What exactly does that mean? How is Gamasutra not accounting for the editorial it published?07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
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