After a public outcry, the ‘Active Shooter’ game based around participating in school shootings has been pulled from Steam by the store’s owner, Valve.
The game Active Shooter was planning to either place players in the shoes of the SWAT team attempting to take down the shooter or — more disturbingly, some might even say disgustingly — the shooter themselves, reports Motherboard.
This isn’t the first time the game’s creator, Ata Berdyev, has found himself in trouble with Valve. Previously he has been kicked off the platform for Piccled Ricc, an unlicensed game based on Rick and Morty that was removed after a copyright claim was made.
Another game, Fidget Spinner Simulator, was similarly criticised for being an example of ‘asset-flipping’ whereby cheap art assets are bought and packaged together into a low-quality game.
However, Active Shooter appears to be an altogether much more insidious attempt at making a quick bit of money. It’s seemingly gone out of its way to generate controversy, and has received all of the free publicity that comes along with it.
The behaviour has lead to Valve explicitly referring to Ata as a “troll” in its statement to Motherboard.
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Active Shooter Game: The twisted relationship between games and school shootings
The world of games has a very complicated relationship with school shootings, to say the least.
In the 90s, it was common for lawmakers to attempt to lay the blame for such shootings at the hands of video games, claiming that the people that carried them out had been socialised by their violent content.
Back in 2007, a teenager was suspended for making a Counter Strike map based on their school. However in this instance people argued that he only made a map based on this location as it was a place he was familiar with, rather than actually wanting to commit a shooting there.
But more recently, other studios have made school shooting games that seem to actively want to be as offensive as possible such as School Shooter: North American Tour 2012, which was later pulled from ModDB where it was being hosted.
Artistic expression is one thing, but it’s difficult to know what the message of such a game could be aside from: “Isn’t it fun to murder school children and teachers?”
Active Shooter might have been removed from Steam, but past experience suggests this might not be the last time someone tries to make money from generating controversy with such a game.
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