By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
The local media have been all over the case of the Clements High student suspended by the Fort Bend school district for being a terrorist.
The 17-year-old student was placed in an alternative school, and may miss his graduation ceremony, because he made a map of Clements to use in Counterstrike, a shoot-'em-up video game.
On the one hand, you can see the district's point if somehow the kid ever went on a rampage, FBISD officials would be vilified for not taking action when they learned about the map. On the other hand, millions and millions of people play these kinds of games without becoming homicidal maniacs.
At any rate, appeals are going on, the Chinese-American community in Fort Bend is up in arms because the student is one of theirs, and FBISD officials are probably looking forward to graduation so the kid becomes someone else's problem.
But in all the coverage, one thing went unnoticed: Dude can make a damn good video-game map.
“Wow, sorry to say this but he is skilled in map-making,” one commenter wrote on a popular gaming blog after screen shots of the map were posted. Others agreed: “yea, the map is insane i wanna play on it,” said one, e.e. cummings style. On another blog the accolades continued: “OMG, is that the map he made? Damn, the kid's a genius.”
The kid's mother, Jean Lin of Sugar Land, can't disagree: “My son has a special talent for making maps without looking at pictures,” she says. “He can walk into a place one time and make a very detailed 3-D map of the place...He was very proud of the map, and I was proud of him for making it.”
Jonathan Dowdell, the CEO of Houston's Iconic Research, knows about computer graphics. While he thinks making such a layout for Counterstrike “is in extremely poor taste” given the Virginia Tech shootings, he says it's well done. Clements could use it for “virtual online school tours, or maybe an in-school kiosk to give lost students directions to their classes,” he says.
The kid “could potentially make a good architect or perhaps a level-designer for a game-programming company,” he adds. (Lin, the student's mother, says he has received an internship offer from a gaming company, which she won't name, based on the map and publicity.)
So why stifle this potentially lucrative creativity, Fort Bend?
“The action taken has nothing to do with skill or creativity,” says FBISD spokeswoman Mary Ann Simpson.
That sounds about right.
Called The Rocket, it featured a cover photo of Clemens in Astros uniform. And it's an unabashed love letter. “I wrote this book not just as an author, but also as a fan,” local freelance writer Joseph Janczak says in the preface.
Ouch. Bad timing, right?
Publisher Potomac Books will switch to a Yankee cover and add a brief mention of Clemens's latest team switch, a spokesman says.
Janczak, for one, says he remains a big Rocket booster. “Roger's charity for our area is unmatched, and he should be appreciated for that,” Janczak says. “I'm not a pacifist for the Clemens camp, but I've known this guy for years. He's a good guy, he really is.”
Janczak remains optimistic that his book somehow won't be burned in mass demonstrations at Barnes & Nobles throughout Houston.
“I don't think I've lost my Houston sales. When people realize how much he does for us off the mound, they'll take him back into the fold,” he says.
Oh yeah. Lotsa luck with that, buddy.
Better have some fire extinguishers on hand, just in case.
Bummed about Roger Clemens abandoning ship? Turn your frown upside down with our Lil' Astros Fun Page — Special ROCKET Edition.