ECA's Hal Halpin Weighs in on Texas Student Case

May 4, 2007 -
Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association has provided GamePolitics with the following statement regarding Paul Hwang, the Texas student who was removed from Clements High School for creating a Counter-strike map based on the layout of the school:
Paul Hwang’s only crime was bad timing. He had the misfortune of uploading his mod during a period of time in which the nation was, perhaps unduly, made sensitive about the supposed link between violence and video games.

It seemed to me that the law enforcement authorities acted with prudence and that the school board should do similarly. This will likely be the first of many such instances where older generations who don’t understand a medium, fear it, and as a result there will be reactionary decisions made. It’s incumbent upon gamers to persevere and to prove the rule and not the exception. Only together, and over time, can we accomplish such a lofty goal.

Comments

He talks about "the causal link between violence and video games" like it really exists. "The supposed causal link" or even "The supposed link" would probably be a better choice of words.

"Paul Hwang’s only crime was bad timing."

To me, this is all that really needs to be said about this whole stupid affair. Had this map been found at any other time, there would have either been no outcry, or a very small one that would have been quickly dismissed in light of the fact that Hwang ISN'T psychotic.

"This will likely be the first of many such instances where older generations who don’t understand a medium, fear it, and as a result there will be reactionary decisions made."

Not even close, I'm afraid. There's a long history of comic books, rock music, TV, role-playing games and pretty much every new medium coming under this banner. This isn't even the first such instance of videogames being used as a scapegoat and fear and panic resulting.

"It’s incumbent upon gamers to persevere and to prove the rule and not the exception"

2 points - first, the media are the ones to blame, not gamers. These types of actions are a reactionary response to the fear caused by the media - no different to muslims being arrested for innocent actions in the wake of 9/11.

Second there is no such thing as a typical "gamer". It cannot be up to gamers to "prove the rule" as a "gamer" can be anything from a 6 year old playing their first DS game to a 58 year old playing games since the '70s and anything inbetween. There's no other pastime where millions of people across every demographic can be coloured by the actions of one college student, nor should they.

I'm curious if there was a mix-up at all or not. Wasn't it noted that the student had the map up on his server 2 months prior?
I don't think it is bad timing in that situation, someone just became paranoid by recognizing the school layout after hearing about VT.

ECA’s Hal Halpin Weighs in on Texas Student Case...

...

Diplomatically, well spoken... I am a bit conscerned about Paul Hwang having been arrested. He should not suffer any negative long term aftereffects for actions of which anyone involved with game development would realize as blatently innocent. To be frank, it seems to me as though he has been singled out to resolve a personal vendetta.

“Paul Hwang’s only crime was bad timing.”

Now, I'm a little bit unaware of all the details, but wasn't the map released prior to the whole VATech shootings? I would think the worst part is the fact that you are treated as if you were glorifying a horrid event when your work predates it. What's more, it's not like a map of that detail is accomplished in only a month's time.

I am a mapper myself, and it is a bit unnerving how this whole thing has been treated. Making maps after real locations, although apparently treated as if the creator was sociopathic, is actually a common theme, the ability to recreate a familiar area and run around a virtual implemenation of it.

But mostly, if I were to make a map based after raiding chemical labs under the cover of darkness, should I be heavily scrutinized and potentially locked up if someone were to preform a near similar event? I can't exactly undo what I did in the past, nor can I un-distribute my works. My further understanding is that the student kept a line between school and hobbies, as only friends were the ones knowledgeable about the map, it's not like he paraded around his work in the school environment.

Yay! Screw up with italics this time! :D

I'm sure that even without the VT thing this still would have happened. Though it has brought it more to the forefront. I wonder if they took the kid's race into consideration before they did what they did, if so then it makes them look even worse.

That should have read: "It wasn't me who screwed up with italics this time!" :D

Whoa when did smilies get added?! :O

At most they should have just discretely called him into the office or whatever to talk about his map instead of making a stupid scene like they did.

@ Paul

Well, it is the first such instance where an innocent gamer has been unduly punished for his hobby. That was the point of Hal's comment.

And where did Hal say all gamers are alike? From the ECA perspective we all are alike in the desire to protect our hobby, that's it.

"There’s no other pastime where millions of people across every demographic can be coloured by the actions of one college student, nor should they."

Yes, exactly, so what's your beef with the statement again? You are coming off as unfairly nit-picky, IMHO.

@grombar

It does, to those who think it does, or are told so without knowing the information beforehand.

An example: I say to someone there was an accident down along Wheeler (road). I bet you, that that person, is willing to believe what I said, although it's not true. Because it seems true, it, uhh...it seems plausable.

Halpin isn't saying it exists, but rather the public is being sensative about it in spite of that, because the public is being told that it does. Like back years ago, the public was told there was a Communist threat to the US' democracy (I'm not so good with history; didn't they say that Communists were trying to turn the US into a communist country?). It wasn't true, but because of the Cold War, it seems plausable, so people believed it.

Is it in the realm of the ECA's mission to come out and support this guy?

I know it's a clich, but it's absolutely true in this case. These parents do not understand videogames, and they do fear this one. They've all heard the "VIDEOGAMES!" fear mongering on TV before, and know here's a student who made "HIS OWN SCHOOL!!!" in an "ULTRA VIOLENT VIRTUAL REALITY ONLINE MURDER SIMULATION!!!"" It probably had a myspace or one of those youtubes in it too.

When this latest terrible thing happened all you heard on the news was "How can we prevent this?" "What are the warning signs?" Hwang's mod ended up being the "warning sign" right now. Honestly, I'm not sure that there is much you can do to prevent this sort of thing. When you have someone who is suicidal, and is hell bent on going on a rampage I don't think you really can stop them. The only way to prevent Viriginia Tech was to address the killer's own personal problems. And I don't see how you could do that if they never talk to anyone about it. You can't fix the whole world.

I also think it's pretty great that this poor kid happened to be Asian. That just makes it even more disgusting and hilarious I really think that had a lot to do with this whole mess. I'll bet a lot of people in school are looking real close at the "quiet Asian kid" in class right know. We're paranoid of each other now.

Why is it that every time there's a terrible tragedy we have to shut our brains off? I heard someone on the news say that we lived in a "post Virginia Tech World"! Isn't that great? A whole new golden age of fear, intolerance, and stupidity! We live in the same world that we did before it happened. Maybe if it wasn't milked for all it's worth on the news you wouldn't have kid's do this to get attention. Most of the school shootings since Columbine were copycats of that event. Maybe it will run it's course one day and psychotic people will go back to suffering in silence and then hang themselves when no one's around.

I am glad that Hal came out and spoke up for the kid. It is his job to do it. He is the President of the Entertainment "CONSUMERS" Association. This kid is an entertainment consumer. Just because he may not have paid his dues does not mean that he is not covered by the organization's policies.

I hope that this kid gets reinstated in school soon.

That was well said IMHO. We have to fight the anti-gaming irrational fear with clear and calm words like with what you see here in the article. I have a feeling that the ECA is getting ready to make a move in our favor. I have no evidence of this, just a gut feeling.

Wait till the mods of schools hits the media whats next? There are maps of college campus depending on the mapper who attended that said school. What do we do with these individuals?

"It seemed to me that the law enforcement authorities acted with prudence and that the school board should do similarly."

Translation:

...the law enforcement authorities acted calm and collected, and after some inquiries, determined there was no threat and the school board peed it's pants and started screaming that the world was going to end before they knew what the heck was going on... effectively showing that they are incapable of handling anything during a crisis real or imagined...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Good on you Hal-dealing with collateral damage based on ignorance isn't fun, but it's going to happen again-many more times.

his names peter, not paul...btw he started making the map his freshmen year (4 years before the shootings)

I'm thinking the school board just paid for his college education, including grad school... idiots... if stupidity were painful they'd be constantly writhing in pain... *sigh* one can dream... in the meantime, I think this kid should plan on going to the MOST expensive school he can find.

It's time to start a campaign to allow this kid to participate in his graduation exercises.

Paul is the name of the student's father, from what I can deduce from the Police Report.

Another aspect of this whole, Bru-ha-ha that has me bothered:

These "V-tech type" (or Columbine type) events are pretty damned rare, happening only once every few years and while horrific, the real numbers of dead/hurt are pretty low. (30 per year? If that?)

Meanwhile, THOUSANDS die because of domestic violence, drugs, drinking/driving and general stupidity/ass-hattery.

SO, while vivid and "newsworthy", these events do NOT warrant the coverage they get nor the worry/panic/concern the garner.

Meanwhile, Paul Hwang is now a social outcast and is "imprisoned" in an alternative school for bad kids. (where, if he is a small, quiet kid, he's gonna get victimized even more)

While I applaud the ECA for saying SOMETHING, he's paying a nasty price for other people's overzealous, uneducated and DANGEROUS fears.

As I've said elswhere:

Fear - the choice of the new generation...

That's an impressive map...Valve should get this kid's resume.

I guess Presumption of innocence meant nothing to those who twitched and kicked him from the school I guess that texan school uses Presumption of guilt judgement... it must be hard on the students.

"presumption of guilt. Many people believe that presumption of guilt is unfair and even immoral because it allows the strategic targeting of any individual, since it's often difficult to firmly establish proof of innocence (for example, it's often impossible to establish an alibi if the person is home alone at the time of the crime)."
-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presumption_of_innocence

@ wolf

It wasent that communits were going to take over the goverment but that they were spying on us wicth is what McCartyism came from, or the paranoid dilussions that a person was a "commy spy"

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This is the first Amendment word by word (thanks to http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.billofrights.html#a... ) and a drawing is considerd to most people a type of news so y not a 3D map of a place? Its just how every one needs somthing to focus evrything that goes wrong on and guess what viedogames are every where and at all times. This needs to stop and soon or things COULD get violent (im not one of them) thing happend when rock was considersd devils music.

My old highschool woulda been a GREAT map for Counter Strike.

Then again, it was also built off the same floor plans as Columbine (NO JOKE!)

If it weren't for the fact that Columbine occurred WHILE I was in HS, I would have made the map... seriously - it would have kicked ass.

Bad timing is not a crime.

Hwang thus committed no crimes.

He created the map before the VT thing.

My old high school (both of them, we moved into a new building my Junior year) would have made for crappy maps. The old one's halls were pretty much a square and the "new" one was like this |-|-|-?. The ? represents the gym which was larger than the rest of the school. Plus because of the color of it was dubbed the sausage factory.

Sounds like he's saying, "Don't play videogames then go off and kill yourself/other people."

Then again, it was also built off the same floor plans as Columbine (NO JOKE!)

Doesn't surprise me. All the old school buildings around where I live have the same floor plan(though most of them aren't schools any more). I'd imagine that it's fairly common for a city/county to just keep reusing the same blue prints for its schools. Don't have to pay for new plans to be drawn up, and you've got a good idea of the time/money that'll be involved.

i totally agree with the bad timing part. although it may seem a bit creepy to see anyone make a map of a real school for a shooter game, i cant really judge the guys reasons as the only person who does is him. i doubt it was dilberatly done to have any real-world meaning. i think it was a good move for the board to investigate but i think they were a little harsh on him. they should give him a chance to explain himself in full.
 
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