- A controversial upcoming video game that allowed anyone to play as a school shooter has been removed from Steam, along with the developer and publisher of the game.
- Backlash – including comments from the parents of the victims of the Parkland high school shooting – erupted online Monday as screenshots of the game went viral.
- Over 110,000 people signed a petition to have the game removed from the Steam gaming platform a week ahead of the game’s scheduled release, and the game’s developers have suggested they might have removed the ability to play from the perspective of the shooter.
A video game that puts players in the shoes of a school shooter has been removed from the mega-popular Steam PC games platform on Tuesday. The removal comes after the controversial game sparked backlash from the parents of Parkland victims, politicians, and over 110,000 online petitioners.
A spokesperson for Valve, the proprietor of the Steam games store, confirmed to Business Insider on Tuesday that both the game and its creator, a developer going by the pseudonym ACID, had been removed from Steam. An internal investigation at Valve found that ACID had returned to the platform under a new name after being removed last year.
The spokesperson called this particular developer “a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation. His subsequent return under new business names was a fact that came to light as we investigated the controversy around his upcoming title.”
“We are not going to do business with people who act like this towards our customers or Valve,” says the spokesperson.
The game, called “Active Shooter,” would have let anyone play from the perspective of a school shooter. The player, in that role, would be encouraged to kill as many civilians and law enforcement personnel as possible. The game also allows players to experience the same scenario from the perspective of a S.W.A.T. team member, in pursuit of the shooter, or as a civilian, simply trying to stay alive.
“Be the good guy or the bad guy. The choice is yours!” said ACID in the game’s description. “Depending on the role, your objective might be to protect and extract or hunt and destroy.”
By Tuesday, several parents of victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida had spoken out against the release of the game, which was initially scheduled for June 9, according to the now-unavailable listing on Steam.
Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jaime Guttenberg in the shooting, tweeted on Sunday:
I have seen and heard many horrific things over the past few months since my daughter was the victim of a school shooting and is now dead in real life. This game may be one of the worst.
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) May 27, 2018
In a following tweet, Guttenberg continued, “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.”
Senator Bill Nelson of Florida also expressed concern on Twitter on Monday:
This is inexcusable. Any company that develops a game like this in wake of such a horrific tragedy should be ashamed of itself. https://t.co/jjp6LxNWhC
— Senator Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) May 28, 2018
An online petition pleading with Valve to block the release of the game on the Steam gaming marketplace has received over 138,000 signatures at the time of publishing. The Valve spokesperson did not comment on whether the petition
“How can anyone sleep at night knowing that they are profiting from turning deadly school shootings into entertainment?” wrote the petition creator Stephanie Robinett.
In response to the backlash earlier in the day, the now-banned game developer posted a “clarification” announcement on Steam, insisting that the game did not promote real-world violence and suggesting that the ability to play as the shooter may be removed from the game.
“After receiving such high amount of critics and hate, I will more likely remove the shooters [sic] role in this game by the release, unless if it can be kept as it is right now,” the announcement read.
Many supporters of the game, including the developer, have argued that this style of first-person shooter is not unique or unprecedented, and that this game is receiving an unfair amount of criticism that other violent games have avoided.
In a forum titled “The Big Debate,” developer wrote, “There are numerous of games such GTA, Postal, Carmageddon, Hatred where it’s literally about mass shootings…how is ‘Active Shooter’ is [sic] any different from mentioned games?…You cannot simply say OK to one and NOT OK to another. “