Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Expelled for Recreating School in Game

A student at Clements High School in Texas has been transferred to an "Alternative Education Center" and will not be allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies with the rest of his class after it was discovered that he had created a level (or map) based on his school for the video game Counter-Strike.

A day after the Virginia Tech Shootings, a parent of another student called the school to say their child had played a video game which "involved killing" and "took place inside an animated map of Clements High School". The principal and a counselor found the web site where the map, named "The Official Clements High School CS Map", was available for download. The creator of the map was a student at the school.

Cops were called. They looked at the site and found nothing illegal, but decided to follow up anyway. They searched the boy's locker where again "nothing illegal or threatening was found". They then "retrieved" the boy from class and brought him to the assistant principal's office where he was frisked by the policeman "for the safety of all involved."

The boy was questioned, and was reportedly surprised at all the attention. The police report says the student "stated that it was simply a game and that he never intended for any violence to occur at the school or for anyone to get hurt in any way". He promised to delete the map and not produce any more school maps.

At that point, the boy's mother arrived and agreed to allow the police to search the boy's room at home. When they arrived and searched, they found five "ornamental or decorative knives of varying lengths." Four of them "were not sharpened at all, and one was slightly sharpened". The parents apparently didn't know about them, and took possession of them when they were discovered. The police do not think they were weapons.

Finally, the boy showed them Counter-Strike and the map he created. They asked him to delete the map, which he did. The police report then states "He was reminded to never again produce a map of any school, or even any public building or area". He agreed with the request.

According to the police report, the County District Attorney's Office has found the student "knew of no criminal offense that had occurred; there were no threats on any specific person or people; there was no evidence found to pursue the case any further". Yet the School District is standing by its decision to transfer the student and exclude him from the graduation ceremony.

Members of the local Chinese community are protesting the action and are supporting the student's family. The school board called a meeting this week regarding the issue, but four of the six members refused to attend, saying the special meeting circumvented the district's disciplinary process. That meeting was cancelled, even though the room was reportedly "packed" with about 120 people in support of the student.


Anonymous Neil Kahle said...

Not sure where to leave a comment about this, since i can never seem to post boing boing comments.

My friends an i play on a CS:S map of our school all the time. Darn, that school is now a mess now that we were never expelled and then graduated and nothing happened..... Current events always blow up the smallest thing that really dont solve anything and just ruin somebody's life.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...circumvented the district's disciplinary process....

It WHAT? Since when do School Districts get to punish kids for things that don't violate the Code of Conduct.

He broke no law, did nothing wrong. How, exactly, does a public body justify taking action when they can't point to ANY misconduct.

This is plain and simply inexcusable. I understand they are scared, but for crying out loud, are you lemmings or adults! Thoughtcrime is the province of George Orwell and Ingsoc.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I did this too. Definitely blown completely out of proportion.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did this when I was in high school, it wasn't counterstrike (I graduated in 98) but Duke Nukem 3d. The thought of using it to somehow train for an attack on the school had never crossed my mind. The reason I did it was because I was trying to train myself to use the map editor and I was familiar with the layout of the school. Recreating familiar places on the map made learning a lot easier because I had a concrete goal to shoot for. Of course that was all before columbine and the general sense of fear that permeates our society today didn't exist back then.

Poor kid. I weep for him and for our country that has fallen so far since I was a teen.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Doran said...

Yea, this is truly ridiculous. And those of us who are familiar with the the game know just how incredibly clueless the adults in this story are about what's out there. I don't play Counter Strike, but I play lots of the related game Half-Life, and I have thousands of maps. Some of them represent real places (eg. McDonalds restaurant, a YMCA) and some are pure fantasy. Add to that the hundreds of player models, ranging from nekkid chicks to kids on skateboards to god-knows-what. I can only imagine what would have happened if the adults knew the about all these other fantasy rooms and characters.

What is really needed is a public humiliation of these adults. They should be shamed for putting this kid through the ringer as they have. Of the many aspects of this story which incensed me, the part that really got me was where the kid was told he isn't permitted to ever make a map of "any public building or area". There goes one career opportunity. Pathetic. School administrators this clueless about kids shouldn't be allowed near them.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Itsumishi said...

I don't live in the U.S (I'm in Australia) but Christ! When I was younger I made maps of my house, my school, the local shopping mall...

If I'd been in that kids situation I'd be looking at every legal angle to claim compensation and shame the people involved.

Either that or I'd go on a revenge killing spree, because you know, I'm a crazy psychopath that plays video games.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous lumpi said...

The OLD (old in mind, I'm not talking about earth-years) people seem to miss the whole point of mapping and why many teenagers get interested in it: It's the only way to gain access to state of the art, real-time computer graphics and 3D content creation.

You can walk around in the map, see 360°, get correctly rendered lighting, physics, interaction. And create your own content to see how the computer can render it. It's fascinating. And it's only available in commerical Shooter games. Type "Crysis editor" in youtube and see what's possible with todays game engines.

Of course, by the time you're old enough to handle the tools you're mostly still a teenager. And the first thing you try to build in 3D is architecture you're familiar with. Your room, your house... your school.

I know of many young people who started mapping and turned their hobby into their profession by studying architecture. The guy who made the famous Kaufmann House by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Half-Life 2 engine for example.

These are not tools for planning mass shootings. At best, they give you the chance to become a set builder for an action movie. It's like arresting people for cannibalism because they made a short zombie movie with their friends in their freetime.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did 4 of the 6 school board members refuse to attend the meeting? It's called POLITICS. If they attended the meeting and let the student off the hook (for doing nothing wrong), they could kiss their school board positions goodbye. The best thing for the Asian community to do is to tell the school board that there had better be an "emergency" meeting to address the matter, or the entire school board can kiss their positions goodbye.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous weirdbiz said...

this is completely ridiculous. i knew this kind of reactionary stupidity would occur because of the VT shootings... it's so sad that people just completely miss the point of... EVERYTHING. the VT shooting is indeed a horrible and tragic event and i think it does say a lot about our society. but it doesn't have a goddamn thing to do with video games or making maps.

5:49 AM  

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