Outrage over disturbing video game that lets players act as school shooters

James Marshall
May 29, 2018

A Change.org petition directed at Valve - which has garnered more than 47,000 signatures - demands that the platform not release Active Shooter.

"Originally when this game started its course of development, I have (sic) planned on having SWAP only based on game-play".

Publisher Acid reasoned with the protesters stating that "this game does not promote any sort of violence, especially any sort of a mass shooting".

Ryan Petty, whose 14-year-old daughter, Alaina, was killed, called for the release of the game, called "Active Shooter", to be cancelled.

"Revived Games believes violence and inappropriate actions belong in video games and not (in the) real world, and insists that in no event should anyone attempt to recreate or mimic any of the actions, events or situations occurring in this game", it said.

Nearly as soon as the game's store listing went up, Steam users took to the game's forums to voice their distaste.

Using a first-person perspective, similar to shooters such as Call of Duty, Doom and Counter-Strike, the game looks to be entirely set within a school.

In an update posted on Steam last week, Acid said that intense criticism of the game has made them reconsider whether to publish it with the option allowing gamers to assume the role of the shooter.

In 2011, a Half-Life 2 mod, titled School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 was announced, but the game was never released, as it was thwarted by a backlash. "This really crosses the line". The game is described as a "dynamic S.W.A.T. simulator". In the wake of recent deadly school shootings, the game is causing outrage. Screenshots released by the developer and seemingly taken from the perspective of the shooter show swat team officers and students being gunned down in various locations including a gymnasium, corridors and canteen. A "civilian survival mode" will be added later. This is only meant to be the simulation and nothing else.

But it asks users not to take it seriously, and to call a psychiatrist or 911 if they feel like hurting someone.

Valve, itself, did not create the game, but it is providing the platform for people to access it. "First of all, this game does not promote any sort of violence, especially any sort of a mass shooting", they wrote in a post on Steam, noting that the game was originally just going to be about SWAT teams, but then they decided to make shooters and civilians playable as well.

In the past, Valve has allowed other notoriously violent games to be sold through its storefront, such as Hatred, Postal and Carmageddon.

Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jaime to the Parkland shooting, condemned the game on Twitter, saying "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".

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