Editors' Note: Updated on May 30 at 9:12 a.m. ET with news of Valve removing Active Shooter from Steam.
Outrage at a shockingly violent video game has led to the game getting pulled from distribution.
That game, Active Shooter, places the player into the role of a shooter terrorizing a school. Images previewing the game show on-screen graphics totalling the number of cops and "civs" (civilians) killed.
A Change.org petition directed at Valve — which has garnered more than 47,000 signatures — demanded that the platform not release Active Shooter.
On Tuesday (May 29), Valve, which owns Steam, the gaming platform where the game was set to launch, issued a statement that it would no longer carry Active Shooter, and now the Steam page for the game redirects to Steam's home page. Valve will no longer carry any other games from Active Shooter's developer, Acid Publishing, a game studio in Moscow, Russia.
Ryan Petty, the father of Alaina Petty — a student killed during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland — is one of the biggest voices speaking out against Active Shooter. In a statement posted to Facebook, Petty placed blame on Valve Corp, saying "It’s disgusting that Valve Corp. is trying to profit from the glamorization of tragedies affecting our schools across the country. Keeping our kids safe is a real issue affecting our communities and is in no way 'game'."
The marketing description of the game includes a disclaimer, as Acid clearly anticipated a public backlash: "Please do not take any of this seriously. This is only meant to be the simulation and nothing else. If you feel like hurting someone or people around you, please seek help from local psychiatrists or dial 911 (or applicable). Thank you."
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. This game may be one of the worst.
Guttenberg also demanded consequences for the businesses involved, stating "This company should face the wrath of everyone who cares about school and public safety and it should start immediately."
On May 23, Acid posted a statement to the Active Shooter page on Steam, defending the game by claiming "this game does not promote any sort of violence, especially any soft (sic) of a mass shooting." The post then states "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."
But after hearing all of the outrage, Acid still tried to defend the game, deflecting to other historically tacky games, writing "As I mentioned on steam discussion forums, there are games like Hatred, Postal, Carmageddon and etc., which are even worst compared to "Active Shooter" and literally focuses on mass shootings/killings of people."
The post ends, though, with a suggestion that Acid thought about removing the role of the shooter: "After receiving such high amount of critics and hate, I will more likely remove the shooters role in this game by the release," the developer notes.
Active Shooter wouldn't have been the first game to focus on high school shooting. The unbelievably-named Super Columbine Massacre RPG! (released for Windows, 6 years after that school shooting) placed gamers into the roles of gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and had them act out the Trench Coat Mafia's massacre.
Just as with what happened this month, the public reaction to that game included scorn from those related to the survivors and hatred from the press. 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.
The similarly-grossly titled V-Tech Rampage was released as an Adobe Flash game, and received significant pushback. Its Australian developer Ryan Lambourn would later make a game called The Slaying Of Sandy Hook Elementary, which positions itself as in favor of increased gun control laws.
Earlier this year, news broke of a VR-based simulator called EDGE being used to train teachers, to prepare them for dealing with school shootings. It will not be released commercially.