"Sick Sandy Hook videogame lets players shoot mom, collect ammo and fire into school" announces the headline in the New York Daily News.
"How quickly do you think you could turn the murder of dozens of kids into an object of entertainment? Most of us would be too horrified to try. For some unethical game designers, it took no time at all," says an editorial on the website for liberal advocacy group Americans Against the Tea Party, which also quotes Democratic Senator Chris Murphy as hoping the "very disturbed person who could think of something like this sees the cruelty of what he's done and stops it."
Would you care to guess what neither writer actually mentions...and therefore we must assume they neglected to do entirely?
DingDingDing! That's right - it would appear that neither author actually played the game through. I know this because I did, and I know what's really in the whole thing (they seem not to). They both quote the game's creator, Ryan Jake Lambourn, as saying to those who ask him to explain himself, "Sure, but you'd learn more by 'playing it.'"
Actually, the Daily News hilariously calls him "An Australian techie believed to be Ryan Jake Lambourn," and then proceeds to give more biographical information about him that leaves no doubt (Lambourn lives in Australia, but he's American by birth). His name and a recording from him explaining his intent can actually be found at the end of the game, but that might require research - even though each level of the game allows you to skip directly to the end almost immediately. To know that, of course, you have to actually play it.
Here's how the game works:
As seen in the image above, you play the shooter as an ominous silhouette. Initially, you play in "Historical" mode, which is the way events happened - apart from the fact that in real life things aren't all shadows and neon. You slump around at the slow pace of someone weighed down, steal your mother's guns, shoot her, and then proceed to the school and shoot at the kid and teacher shadows there. Once you're in the school, you have the option to skip ahead to the end of the level, at which point the police have arrived and the only remaining move the game grants you is to shoot yourself in the head. If you don't skip ahead, there's a countdown clock that gets you there eventually.
After this level, you can play "Guncontrol" level. In this version, no guns are available to you. You have to stab mom repeatedly, and after failing to open her safe, are magically given a katana sword and a sledgehammer, with which you enter the school again, and try to kill the shadows using only a sword. You still kill some, but it's much harder, and you have to off yourself with pills (the end card lets you know you got your stomach pumped and stood trial) You might see the beginnings of a point emerging here.
And emerge it does, because this unlocks a third level called "Eagletears," in which you are in the NRA world, with no gun control whatsoever. Mom is still a sleeping duck, and the teachers have handguns, but you have a machine gun. This, of course, is the easiest level of them all. If you wish to play Lambourn's message at the end, he makes it clear - if you have a problem with the way gun laws are, you need to contact your representatives - and he provides a link to where you can do exactly that.
[warning: pink stylized blood ahead]