Stories I’d like to see

A video game called 'School Shooting,' backing the video gaming industry, and a qualified lawyer on hold

In his “Stories I’d like to see” column, journalist and entrepreneur Steven Brill spotlights topics that, in his opinion, have received insufficient media attention. This article was originally published on

1. Is there really a game called “School Shooting”?

Last week, the Connecticut State’s Attorney issued his official report about the shooting a year ago at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. On page 26 the State’s Attorney noted that among other video games found in the home of murderer Adam Lanza was: “The computer game titled ‘School Shooting’ where the player controls a character who enters a school and shoots at students.”

Is there really such a game? The CBS-owned website Gamespot, which covers news related to video-gaming, reported two days later that, “The ‘School Shooting’ game is somewhat of a mystery. In the 44-page Sandy Hook report released this week, no details are provided regarding who made the game or where it can be purchased or downloaded.”

I hope someone is working on that mystery.

2. “Advocating” for video games?

While trying to learn more about the School Shooting game I came across the website of a trade group called the Entertainment Consumers Association, which represents the video gaming industry. Its “Advocacy” page led last week with the good news that the State’s Attorney’s report did not directly link video games to the Sandy Hook massacre (though the report did spend a lot of space listing all the violent games found in Lanza’s home).

“From both a political and a cultural perspective, these are challenging times for gamers. New issues that concern consumer rights broadly, but effect gamers specifically, have made our work that much more important,” the Advocacy page declares.

Trade associations are usually a good window on the arguments, money and politics associated with controversial issues. So the group that defends the gaming industry, whose revenues are increasingly dependent on products that simulate violence, would seem to be fertile ground for a good story on how the industry seems to have staved off fallout from Sandy Hook and similar tragedies.

3. What does this guy do all day?

Last June, President Obama announced the appointment of a Washington lawyer to reopen and run the State Department’s office in charge of trying to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.

The man the president appointed, Clifford Sloan, is not just any lawyer. He has one of those classic gold-plated DC resumes: Harvard Law School, Supreme Court clerk, associate presidential counsel in the Clinton White House, vice president for business affairs and general counsel of Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive, publisher of Slate magazine, co-author of a highly-regarded book about the Marbury V. Madison Supreme Court case, and, finally, partner at the blue chip law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom.

Why I am I listing all those high-powered jobs? Because I can’t imagine why a guy like Sloan would take a job like this one. The effort to close Guantanamo seems to be on permanent hold, with Congress not allowing any of the prisoners into the United States and no other countries apparently eager to accept them.

So what does Sloan do all day? If my hunch is correct, this could be a story of a highly-qualified guy doing little more than playing the bureaucratic equivalent of solitaire at Foggy Bottom in between fruitless phone calls to countries around the world. If I’m wrong, it’s an even better story.

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Steven Brill , the author of Class Warfare: Inside the Fight To Fix America’s Schools, has written for magazines including New York, The New Yorker, Time, Harper's, and The New York Times Magazine. He founded and ran Court TV, The American Lawyer magazine, ten regional legal newspapers, and Brill's Content magazine. He also teaches journalism at Yale, where he founded the Yale Journalism Initiative. Tags: ,