Published: Wednesday May 16, 2007
An Australian man has sparked a storm of protest after creating an online computer game based on the murderous shooting spree at Virginia Tech
in the United States last month.
Players control an image of Korean-born gunman Cho Seung-hui, who killed 32 people before turning a gun on himself, and screams can be heard on the soundtrack as shots are fired at the other characters.
The creator of "V-Tech Rampage", 21-year-old Ryan Lambourn, said he made the game "because it's funny," the Sydney Morning Herald reported Thursday.
The unemployed Lambourn responded to outraged calls for him to remove the game from the Internet by demanding 1,000 US dollars for each of the two sites it is on and said that for another 1,000 dollars he would apologise.
But he said later that was a joke to "make more people angry" and he would not remove the game from his own website or seek to have it removed from amateur game sharing site Newgrounds.com.
The game, described as offering "three levels of stealth and murder" is set on a facsimile of the Virginia Tech campus and can be freely downloaded from either site.
"I've done offensive things before but they're not usually this popular," he said.
Lambourn said that while he had sympathy for those who had lost friends and relatives in the massacre, he also had sympathy for the gunman.
"No one listens to you unless you've got something sensational to do. And that's why I feel sympathy for Cho Seung-Hui. He had to go that far."
Lambourn told the national AAP news agency that he would not take down the game under any circumstances, even if he received a request from the victims' families.
"I'm afraid not," he said, but added: "I hope they'd never do that."
He said he empathised with the killer and that he, like Cho, had been a victim of abuse and bullying at high school.
Lambourn was born in Australia but grew up in the United States before returning to Australia when he was 14.
He said he left school in the eighth grade having been bullied and abused at several institutions in Texas, Maine, New Jersey, New York
and North Carolina.
He described himself as a self-taught animator supported financially by his mother, who still lives in the United States.