‘The Slaying of Sandy Hook Elementary’ Game Draws National Outrage

An indie game developed by a man from Sydney, Australia is getting national attention this week because of its controversial subject matter: the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that happened almost a year ago in Newtown, Connecticut. Politicians, journalists, parents of victims, Connecticut state officials, and even the National Rifle Association have weighed in on the game, "The Slaying of Sandy Hook Elementary."

The Flash-based game was developed by Ryan Jake Lambourn, who describes himself in an audio recording that accompanies the game, as a U.S. expatriate from Houston who now resides in Sydney, Australia. The message of his game seems to be that guns laws in the United States need to change. He points to laws enacted in Australia after the fatal 1996 shooting of 35 people at a popular tourist destination that have brought gun-related murders down in the country.

"Here we are a year after the Sandy Hook shootings in which 26 people were killed, 20 of which were first-graders, and absolutely nothing positive has come out of it," Lambourn said in the recording. "I'm someone who rarely follows the news, so these updates have been a constant reminder of just how commonplace mass shootings and school shootings have become."

Whether his intentions are good or not, his vehicle for the message of gun control isn't appreciated by anyone in Newtown, Connecticut. Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra went so far as to say that she has contacted the FBI about the game and urged an investigation.

"I'm just horrified," Llodra told the CT Post. "I just don't understand, frankly, why anyone would think that the horrible tragedy that took place here in Sandy Hook would have any entertainment value. It just breaks my heart."

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., slammed the developer of the game:

"I find the exploitation of this unspeakable tragedy is just shocking," Blumenthal told Hearst. "From what I've heard and what's been shown to me, it's absolutely abhorrent. My hope is that it will be voluntarily taken down because it's offensive and hurtful."

Gun control advocacy group the Newtown Action Alliance says that the only good to come from this game is that gun rights supporters and gun control advocates have found some common ground in loathing the game:

"The only positive that can possibly come from this is if the repulsive reactions that it causes serve as common ground for extreme gun-rights people to instead of pointing out how something so vile is protected under the Constitution, or looking the other way, they join the masses in condemning it," said Dave Ackert, a spokesman for the Newtown Action Alliance. "Same goes for the NRA leadership, all of their A-rated lawmakers, executives and board members at gun manufacturers, gaming and other entertainment companies."

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy described the game as sickening.

"Sickening. To make a game about the murder of 20 children and their six teachers is absolutely sickening," U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in a statement. "I hope the very disturbed person who could think of something like this sees the cruelty of what he's done and stops it."

The NRA called the game "reprehensible," but said that it wouldn't comment further because it didn't want to draw any more attention to "this despicable excuse for a human being."

On his Twitter feed, Lambourn listed off all the different groups that don't like him or his game:

We will have more on this story as it develops.

Source: CT Post – thanks to RedMage for the tip.

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  1. Davvolun says:

    I know nothing about this game.

    Having said that, what's the difference between a movie which tells fictional story set in the Holocaust, for fun's sake, let's say, Jakob the Liar starring Robin Williams, and a game which tells a fictional story set in Sandy Hook?

    Also, I have to name drop Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, since this exact scenario has been done before 

  2. Neeneko says:

    I just spent a little time playing the game.  

    I would not call it disrespectful or sensational at all.  It is more like an interactive narrative.

  3. RedMage says:

    I agree, and I mentioned this in my own comment, but there are level-headed debates we could be having about the game. Of course, that chance was lost when people couldn't rein in their kneejerk outrage and started calling for the game to be banned and sending the developer death threats on Twitter.

    Instead, they're just giving more publicity than he could have ever imagined.

  4. Neeneko says:

    Something that is both an advantage and disadvantage of the US is we are both passionate and divided, multiple strong groups with mutually exclusive goals, and a voting system that is mathematically guaranteed to encourage dualistic extremism.

    It does not help that the gun debate has become a bit of a proxy for other more touchy subjects.  It has become heavily intertwined with larger cultural conflicts within the US, so even if supporters of either side did manage to sit down and talk things through, it tends to get immediately derailed by something unassociated.  All it takes is one comment about civil rights, economics, religion, or any number of other bundled topics to break things down and put people right back on the extremes again.

  5. black manta says:

    You know…the guy has a point.

    I mean, when it seems that any attempts at gun control seem to go nowhere in this country, and it's gotten to where the public is now sadly resigned to that fact, while at the same time sudden mass shootings are becoming accepted as "the new normal," while over in Australia it only took one mass shooting to prompt some meaningful change.  Yeah, we look pretty pathetic in comparison.

    And if it takes a game like this to get both sides re-energized and sufficiently pissed-off again, and to remind people of what's at stake here, then I really don't mind.

  6. prh99 says:

    They'll rage and grandstand for little bit and then forget about it like they always do. Of course if they would just forget it, it would disappear sooner rather than later or rather it's influence would be a lot smaller had they not drawn attention to it. For some of the people quoted in the article I think ignorance is the best state (especially one former AG turned congress critter).

    Also for something so deplorable, the gentlemen who linked his petition in the comments for CT Post's article provides at least three links straight to the game.

    Btw it's on the ThePirateBay and few other torrent sites so chances of it completely disappearing are slim to none. 

  7. prh99 says:

    I think some people believe offensive is illegal. When someone points it's probably protected speech we'll start hearing how the 1st Amendment goes to far and it should be limited.

  8. Andrew Eisen says:

    "Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra went so far as to say that she has contacted the FBI about the game and urged an investigation."

    To what end?


    Andrew Eisen

  9. Cecil475 says:

    "I find the exploitation of this unspeakable tragedy is just shocking," Blumenthal told Hearst. "From what I've heard and what's been shown to me, it's absolutely abhorrent. My hope is that it will be voluntarily taken down because it's offensive and hurtful."

    Funny a polititian mentions this when it's the polititions who use the 'exploitation of this unspeakable tragedy' to further their anti-game agenda. They REALLY came out of the woodwork following the shooting.

     – W

    R.i.P GamePolitics 2005-2016

  10. RedMage says:

    It's like the Modern Warfare 2 No Russian scene all over again.

    I'd never heard of Pigpen before today. He develops games, I'm sure I may have heard of him eventually, but now you can't go more than a day or two without hearing about him and his "cruel, vile" Sandy Hook video specifically because some people want to shut him up or get the game banned or censored. Until he was elevated to a national stage, he was just another developer making a video game in an increasingly crowded marketplace full of them.

    Without this national outrage, without public figures and newspaper editorials giving Pigpen all this attention, what would have happened? He'd have released a video game, a small number of people would have played it, and then…nothing. Nobody would know this person who you chose to make your mortal enemy and it would be business as usual. Even more laughable is that every time the game keeps coming up is because someone who has taken offense has brought it up again, all because they want it discredited and gone. Without the constant barrage of attention and sanctimonious public comments and editorials, virtually nobody would know this game exists, let alone even be curious about it.

    I have to ask in that sense, what benefit is there to continually standing on your soapbox preaching about how the game is offensive and how Pigpen is this awful person? You can spin it as ensuring people stay away from it, but again, nobody would know about it in the first place were it not for this shitstorm in a teacup. It's a shame, because there are rational debates on whether or not this game is appropriate, but the chance to have level-headed discussions have been obliterated by all the people screaming for the game to get banned and boycotted and sending the developer death threats.

  11. Cyberdodo says:

    Hardly the first time a school shooting became the subject of a crappy so-called game. Trolls will be trolls.


  12. Craig R. says:

    And I think that's the real problem with all of this: nobody talks about the actual content of the game. None of the people spewing bile, nor the writer of the article itself.

    This whole thing is a massive case of judging a game by it's title, and nobody seems to give a flying fig.

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