When NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre spoke at a press conference today, he lambasted video games as a medium that "sells and sows violence against its own people." LaPierre called out five games as examples of video game evil. Four of them are big-budget affairs, produced by multinational corporations. But it's the naming of the fifth title, a little-known Flash game called Kindergarten Killer, that came as a surprise.
Kindergarten Killer was the center of a controversy after a website removed it after a mass shooting in Finland in 2008, six years after it was released. But not much else is known about the gory shooter or Gary Short, the person who allegedly made it.
Kindergarten Killer originally appeared on browser game portal Newgrounds but was pulled after outcry from users of that website. A memorial page still exists where the mechanically rough, cartoon-styled shooter lived and Kindergarten Killer has been reposted on dozens of sites all over the web.
Despite the fact that the game is still playable, it's tough to divine what the then-18-year-old Gary Short was trying to do with Kindergarten Killer. Judging by the remnants of various websites he built a decade ago, he might have been trying to ape the horror movies he enjoyed and/or grab attention with a verboten premise. Here's a snippet from a website for ZSOA, the company credited in Kindergarten Killer screens:
The legacy began when I was born out of satan's arse in the wonderful year of 1984. I left hell at the age of 3 months to live with my new family in England. Nothing happened for about 14 years (nothing you care about anyway) and then one day I'd decided to try my hand at making a website. It grew from there, bla bla bla, and over the years I designed many sites. These included Fantasy Wrestling Federations (please stop laughing, the FFW and LPW were pretty good, y'know), a Harry Hill tribute website, a website about the story of a young man and his moped, MonkeyGel.com, Freakchamber.com (The Chamber of Freaks), and the almighty ZSOA. I've made a few flash movies in my time. At one point I tried pandering to the Newgrounds crowd (Ninja Turtles NES, Skate or Die, anyone?) to get more hits and better flash movie scores but I became sick of it. Now I just do stuff that I feel like doing (The Blue Blob series, Charles Arse) which get low scores and much abuse from the Newgrounds crowd, but I don't care. Kindergarten Killer was pretty popular though and got me loads of visitors, and still does.
In addition to Flash games, Short made short animated films. These, too, feel like the work of a young teenaged man trying to replicate the creepy gross-out aesthetic of his favorite directors. The Blue Blob gets described as "an original flash-horror classic," where "an insane blue blob breaks into a house and mercilessly kills an entire family." The articles section on the ZSOA site has opinionated rants from Short about hunting and how criminals should be punished, including this paragraph:
On to the real reason for this article. Criminals... wankers, losers, whatever you want to call them are the reason why this world is a screwy as it is. Forget corrupt governments and Christians for a minute, a world without crime would be a lot better than this shitty planet, it goes without saying. And what do we do with our criminals? Put them in prison where the tax payers pay for their lunch and accomodation, however shitty it may be. If you were a hobo who couldn't be fucked to get a job all you gotta do is try and rob a bank and get sent to prison, where you'll get some shelter.
The solution? Stricter punishments I say. Not longer jail sentences... I mean stricter in the physical way. Like if someone keeps stealing stuff take a lesson from countries like Saudi Arabia and cut their fucking hands off! Murderers, rapists and the like should be killed straight away. One less dickhead in the world. The complete evil son of a bitches should be publicly stoned to death, hahahaha! I don't think that would be a step backwards, I can't really understand why the UK got rid of the death penalty. The US still has it but it waits to long to kill the son of a bitch.
Angry stuff, no? What should we make of Gary Short, then, and his game that was plucked from obscurity by a corporate gun lobby eager to foist blame away from assault weapons? Taken together, the writings, animation and Flash games feel like cranky, hormonal work of a restless teenager who bought into the idea of the Internet as a fresh homeland for outliers, dropouts and rebels. Short made creations that mirrored entertainment that he enjoyed but it doesn't seem like any of it was meant to be seen by more than a handful of people.
Kotaku has reached out the e-mail address on the ZSOA website in an effort to reach Gary Short. We will update this article if we hear back.