A video game that lets you play as a school shooter has sparked backlash from the parents of Parkland victims, politicians, and over 110,000 online petitioners

  • A controversial upcoming video game will allow anyone to play as a school shooter, with the objective of killing as many civilians and police officers as possible.
  • Backlash has erupted online, including comments from the parents of the victims of the Parkland high school shooting.
  • Over 110,000 people signed a petition to have the game removed from a popular gaming platform a week ahead of the game’s schedule release, and the game’s developers have suggested they might remove the ability to play from the perspective of the shooter. 

A video game that puts players in the shoes of a school shooter has sparked backlash from the parents of Parkland victims, politicians, and over 110,000 online petitioners vying to have the game removed from a popular gaming platform before its scheduled debut next week.

The game, called “Active shooter,” will let anyone to play from the perspective of the shooter, who’s encouraged to kill as many civilians and law enforcement personnel as possible. The game also allows players to experience the same scenario from the perspective of a S.W.A.T. team member, in pursuit of the shooter, or as a civilian, simply trying to stay alive.

“Be the good guy or the bad guy. The choice is yours!” said Russian development company ACID in the game’s description. “Depending on the role, your objective might be to protect and extract or hunt and destroy.”

Several parents of victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have spoken out against the release of the game, which is scheduled for June 9, according to its listing on Steam, a popular video game publishing platform owned by Valve Corporation.

Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jaime Guttenberg in the shooting, tweeted on Sunday:

In a following tweet, Guttenberg continued, “This company should face the wrath of everyone who cares about school and public safety and it should start immediately. Do not buy this game for your kids or any other game made by this company.”

Senator Bill Nelson of Florida also expressed concern on Twitter on Monday:

An online petition pleading with Valve to block the release of the game on the Steam gaming marketplace has received over 110,000 signatures at the time of publishing. A representative for Valve was not available to respond to a request for comment on the petition or the company’s plans.

“How can anyone sleep at night knowing that they are profiting from turning deadly school shootings into entertainment?” wrote the petition creator Stephanie Robinett.

In response to the backlash, the game developers – who have a history of publishing controversial games inspired by real-life events in the past – posted a “clarification” announcement on Steam, insisting that the game does not promote real-world violence and suggesting that the ability to play as the shooter may be removed from the game.

“After receiving such high amount of critics and hate, I will more likely remove the shooters [sic] role in this game by the release, unless if it can be kept as it is right now,” the announcement reads.

Many supporters of the game, including the developers, have argued that this style of first-person shooter is not unique or unprecedented, and that this game is receiving an unfair amount of criticism that other violent games have avoided.

In a forum titled “The Big Debate,” developers wrote, “There are numerous of games such GTA, Postal, Carmageddon, Hatred where it’s literally about mass shootings…how is ‘Active Shooter’ is [sic] any different from mentioned games?…You cannot simply say OK to one and NOT OK to another. ”

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