Video game showing gunman in school stirs controversy

Companies face backlash for creating school shooting video game

Screenshot Active Shooter

Ryan Petty, whose 14-year-old daughter, Alaina, was killed during the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, told the Miami Herald that the planned June 6 release of Active Shooter should be canceled.

Variety reports that Steam and Valve are coming under fire over a shooting-themed video game, Active Shooter, that is now available online through the game storefront.

The game, which is not made by any major publisher and will not be sold on any console system, describes itself as a simulation of an active shooter situation, where players can opt to be either the killer or the SWAT team tasked with neutralising the situation.

The game's release comes less than a month after the most recent mass school shooting in which 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis allegedly killed 10 people and wounded another 10 at Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas.

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.

The video game industry is bracing once again for scrutiny with the pending release of a title that lets players act out the role of a school shooter.

Infer Trust, an anti-gun violence organization, previously told the BBCthe game is "in very bad taste". "After receiving such high amount of critics and hate, I will more likely remove the shooters role in this game by the release, unless if it can be kept as it is right now", the company said.

Gilliam says parents should be tired of their children playing any active shooter games, even if the research doesn't directly tie them to violence.

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"I would not allow my child, and did not allow my children, to play any violent games", said Tracy Merriweather, a local mom.

"Active Shooter's" developer also posted a disclaimer on a preview for the game, saying its content is not recommended for children.

Acid added that other games that have been released "literally focuses on mass shootings/killings of people" in a way which Active Shooter does not.

"The company is taking the stand that this game is legal because of free speech and everything else that tech billionaires hide behind when they are doing something the public knows is absolutely, morally corrupt but legally fine - but we can not stand for this", the website reads.

But it asks users not to take it seriously, and to call a psychiatrist or 911 if they feel like hurting someone.

In response to the outpouring of anger towards the title, via a post over on Steam, a studio rep using the moniker "Acid" wrote that the game "does not promote any sort of violence, especially any [sort] of a mass shooting".

Valve Software, which owns Steam, did not reply to requests for comment about Active Shooter or how it was approved for sale on the platform.

Developers can submit games to Steam by paying a US$100 fee, but company guidelines bar any "content that is patently offensive or meant to shock or disgust viewers".

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