‘Active Shooter‘, a PC video game was set to release on Steam on 6th June but it is now pulled from the digital store after immense backlash from students and parents alike. The game allows the player to become a school shooter and let them shoot up a school. How it even made it to a platform like Steam is anyone’s guess.
School shootings are becoming an increasingly large problem for many countries, especially the United States. We’re only halfway into 2018 and there’s already been 22 school shootings, one of them happening as recent as May. One of the most notable ones is the one that happened in Texas recently at Santa Fe High School. An estimated 10 people died and 10 more were injured. Therefore, the topic of school shootings is a very sensitive one for many people in the United States.
Therefore, to market a game like ‘Active Shooter’ at a time like this is not a smart idea. The game, made by Revived Games and published by a Russian company called Acid would make players choose between a SWAT or a school shooter to play as. The former would try to protect the school while the latter would try to complete their objective of “hunt and destroy”. From the sound of it, it gives a very Counter-Strike type of vibe which featured the Terrorists and the Counter-Terrorists. However, the setting of the game and the timing was just not right.
If they wanted to create a good vs bad dynamic, they should’ve chosen some other setting because school shooting is a topic that’s not something to be taken lightly. Rightfully so, as news of the game’s incoming release spread, so did the public outrage. Ryan Petty, who lost his 14-year-old daughter to a school shooting attack at Majority Stoneman Douglas High School called the game ‘despicable’.
— Ryan Petty (@rpetty) May 27, 2018
There were many others who were affected by school shootings that came forward to reject the upcoming game:
This company should face the wrath of everyone who cares about school and public safety and it should start immediately. Do not buy this game for your kids or any other game made by this company.https://t.co/LbkXy0upwc
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) May 27, 2018
Bill Nelson, the senior US Senator from Florida also heavily criticized the game. He tweeted: “This is inexcusable. Any company that develops a game like this in wake of such a horrific tragedy should be ashamed of itself,”. There was also severe backlash from students and parents in Parkland, who demanded that the game should be removed from Steam.
One of the survivors of the Parkland shooting, Jaclyn Corin said: “THIS IS DISGUSTING… Everyone that cares about school & public safety should be OUTRAGED. Sign this petition to DEMAND the game isn’t launched,”. A petition was also launched against the game, which has over 250,000 signatures now.
After the incredible amount of backlash, Valve, the company behind Steam issued a statement that they’ve removed the game from their platform and that Revived Games and Acid have also been removed from Steam due to past misbehavior. According to a spokesman from Valve, the man behind ‘Active Shooter’ is a person who had already been banned from Steam before when he was operating under a different name.
Valve started an investigation into the game when it started receiving immense criticism and found that the same developer they had banned before was back under a different name, trying to promote Active Shooter. Valve spokesman Doug Lombardi said that the developer is “a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation.”
He also added: “We are not going to do business with people who act like this towards our customers or Valve,”.
There have been many insensitive games like Active Shooter in the past, but this one struck more people as school shootings have affected a lot of families in the United States. It’s good that Valve was quick to act to shut down the game, else things might have gotten worse. After this incident, Valve has also said that they’ll soon hold more conversations about their content policies, perhaps revising them a bit in order to prevent publishers from posting content like this in the first place.