When you read that someone is planning a game based on Virginia Tech, you can’t help but cringe.
But game designer – and Virginia Tech alum – Manveer Heir seems committed to using the video game medium to tastefully and respectfully tell the tale of the aftermath of the April, 2007 rampage.
Heir, whose day job involves game developments for Raven Software, writes:
To make a video game based around these events is difficult and delicate… Bereavement in Blacksburg centers around the concept of loss and grief, and how people cope with it. The game takes place on April 17th, 2007, the day after the shootings…
You can use the phone to call your girlfriend… You can use your computer and see e-mails from the administration, as well as condolences from friends. You can watch TV or listen to music to escape… You can turn to bottles of alcohol to drown your sorrows. Or you can just leave the room and venture to other parts of campus and find other interactions. The choices are yours and they affect the way your character progresses through the game.
Internally, the game keeps a “grief score”. You start at zero, and positive influencing interactions will increase this score and negative influencing actions will decrease it… Ultimately, there should be multiple paths to end the game, just as there are in life. One can move through all the stages of grief, or become stuck… In the end, the game is one of choices and how these choices ultimately affect how we deal with grief.
On the other hand, not everyone appreciates what Heir is trying to do. At College On The Record, a writer who goes by "Technical Brilliance" harshly criticizes the project, referring to Heir as a "poor, misguided fool":
What are you thinking, man? I hope this design document stays in production limbo. A lot of my friends were personally affected by this atrocity, and I don’t think they’d appreciate a game mocking their grief.
GP: Readers, what do you think?