UPDATE 5/30/19: In the wake of widespread criticism, Active Shooter has been pulled by the gaming platform Steam.
A new video game called Active Shooter, which simulates a school shooting, has people on social media expressing their concern.
Slated for release on June 6, the game was created by a group called Revived Games and then published by a Russian company called Acid. On a page teasing the game on Steam — the platform on which it will be sold — users can watch as a gunman trolls through hallways of a school: breaking into classrooms, a gymnasium, and a courtyard. In front of the camera, scared students and teachers scatter away terrified, while a few appear to dive in to stop the shooting.
The description of the game reads, “Pick your role, gear up and fight or destroy! Be the good guy or the bad guy. The choice is yours!” It continues, “Only in ‘Active Shooter,’ you will be able to pick the role of an Elite S.W.A.T. member or the actual shooter. Lead your team, extract civilians and neutralize the shooter.”
The game drew ire from shooting victims and survivors nationwide, who took to Twitter to condemn the exploitation of violence that has claimed so many lives.
“This company should face the wrath of everyone who cares about school and public safety and it should start immediately,” Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, during the Parkland shooting, tweeted. “Do not buy this game for your kids or any other game made by this company.”
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
“Despicable,” wrote Ryan Petty, father of Alaina Petty, another 14-year-old female student killed during the shooting at Stoneman Douglas. “It makes me sick,” added Sam Reiff, a survivor of the Parkland shooting.
— Ryan Petty (@rpetty) May 27, 2018
— Sam Zeif #Douglasstrong (@SzZeif) May 28, 2018
In response to the outcry, the gaming platform, Steam, issued a “clarification,” insisting that the point of the product had been misconstrued. “This game does not promote any sort of violence, especially any sort of a mass shooting,” the company posted on its website. “As I said in the description of the game, Active Shooter is essentially a dynamic SWAT simulator in which dynamic roles are offered to players.”
To many, including the Parkland parents, the apology wasn’t good enough. In a tweet late Sunday, Fred Guttenberg shared contact information for Doug Lombardi, a vice president at the company marketing the game. “Everyone please contact this company ASAP,” he wrote.
Additionally, two individuals launched a Change.org petition calling on the distributors of the game to take it down. “How can anyone sleep at night knowing that they are profiting from turning deadly school shootings into entertainment?” the petition reads. By Tuesday afternoon it was more than halfway to reaching its 150,000-signature goal.
While the game may seem like an unusual and traumatic byproduct of the shootings, experts in the gaming world have pointed out that it’s not the first time individuals have tried to turn violence into video games. On the website Tom’s Guide, Henry T. Casey points out that a similar game emerged in the wake of the deadly 1999 Columbine shooting, eerily called Super Columbine Massacre RPG!
Then (and now), victims expressed both outrage at the images and concern that the game itself may fuel even more violence. Although researchers have found no evidence directly linking video games to shootings in schools, the American Psychological Association has concluded, definitively, that there is “a direct association between violent video game use and aggressive outcomes.”
Despite this, and outcries from Parkland parents, Active Shooter seems on track to launch next week. If it does, it’s likely to get a powerful response, not only from victims and survivors but also from the officials tasked with protecting them.
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
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