The video game Active Shooter, which lets players take on the role of a school shooter, has been pulled from Steam, the online store for which it was available, causing a minority of its defenders to call its removal hypocritical.
Developed by Russia-based Revived Games — not to be confused with the E-sports team with the same name — Active Shooter was originally scheduled for a June 6 release. That changed Tuesday when Valve, the developer that runs the Steam game distribution platform, removed the game. In a statement, Valve offers additional background on the developer, showing that the removal of the game was not a result of censorship.
We have removed the developer Revived Games and publisher ACID from Steam This developer and publisher is, in fact, a person calling himself Ata Berdiyev, who had previously been removed last fall when he was operating as “[bc]Interactive” and “Elusive Team.”
Ata is a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation. We are not going to do business with people who act like this towards our customers or Valve.
Here was the original description for Active Shooter, as pulled by BuzzFeed.
BuzzFeed also reported that the father of Parkland shooting victim was outraged by the game, calling it “despicable.”
After the announcement that the game was pulled, some took to Twitter to express their disappointment. One user said it was hypocritical for games like Call of Duty and Battlefield to be deemed OK, but not Active Shooter — a line of thinking used by several gamers on social media that put shooting sprees in schools on the same moral plane as military games that pit opposing, volunteer armies against each other.
The removal is a “sad loss for freedom of express and the video game industry as a whole.”
“Sigh, boring and pretentious bullshit to remove this but not any other game where killing others is a thing,” commented a redditor on r/gaming.
“If you’re offended over “active shooter” then you never played mission 3 [Modern Warfare 2], commented another.
Veteran gamers cited backlash against violent games in the past: “I’ve been gaming since the SNES and Genesis,” opined one. “Gamers have survived the attacks on [Grand Theft Auto] and [Call of Duty]. A tiny indie game isn’t ample ammo.”
Others celebrated the news of Active Shooter’s removal. One of the prominent voices cheering Valve for their decision was actress and activist Alyssa Milano who commented, “school shootings are not entertainment.” Another Twitter user called the game “tone deaf.”
On Friday, a woman by the name of Stephanie Robinett started a Change.org petition claiming Active Shooter to be “school shooting simulator” and it was “horrific.” It had 139,000 signatures on Tuesday afternoon.
Last week, the developer of Active Shooter claimed there was a misunderstanding in a post on its Steam page: It was not a school shooting fantasy game, but rather it was a SWAT simulator. The gameplay would put players as either part of the SWAT team or as the shooter with one of the settings, seen in the trailer, was that of a school.
The developer of School Shooter has created several games that are no longer on Steam. Each game released had a title and theme that was related to recent events such as Tyde Pod Challenge, which had nothing to do with the actual Tide Pod Challenge, but was rather a racing game. There was also Zucc Simulator that put players in the shoes of a half-robot, half-human who reviewed the activities on a social network and released weeks after Mark Zuckerberg appeared in front of Congress. All the games made use of free assets from video game engines such as Unity in a practice known as “asset flipping.” Developers who do “asset flipping” make simple games with hardly any gameplay and charge little money.
While the removal of Active Shooter was not due to the game’s content, Valve’s statement did mention that the company will address Steam’s content policies soon.