School shooting game removed after outraging gun spree victims

Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 15:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st May 2018, 10:22 am

Game distribution service Steam has removed a game called 'Active Shooter' after complaints from parents of the children who died during the Parkland mass shooting, and a petition which attracted more than 180,000 signatures.

Active Shooter aimed to replicate the events of a school shooting, allowing players to take the role of an armed officer responding to a shooting, a civilian attempting to escape the scene, or - most controversially - even the shooter themselves.

The game, advertised as coming later this summer, was to utilise a first-person perspective, and appeared to be set entirely within a school, judging by the handful of screenshots released by the developer.

Many screenshots seemed to be taken from the perspective of the shooter, and showed SWAT team officers and students being gunned down in recognisable high school locations like gyms and canteens.

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'Ata is a troll'

The game was listed as being developed by a Russian outfit known as 'Acid', though the validity of such a company was later rebuked by Valve, the company behind 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'," said Valve in a statement.

"Ata is a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation." (Image: 'Acid')

"Ata is a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation.

"His subsequent return under new business names was a fact that came to light as we investigated the controversy around his upcoming title. We are not going to do business with people who act like this towards our customers or Valve."

The Guardian's Keza MacDonald noting on Twitter that it was "not remotely surprising that the 'studio' making this disgusting... trash is actually one guy who's been in trouble with Steam several times before."

Under fire

Acid released a statement on their - now unavailable - Steam page, saying that the game didn't "promote any sort of violence, especially any soft [sic] of a mass shooting'.

But the game's tagline begged to differ, tantalising players and telling them to 'Pick your role, gear up and fight or destroy!'

The Steam service - a ground-breaking development in the distribution of digital games to PC users, particularly of smaller, independent games - has come under fire for its seemingly relaxed stance on what is allowed on the platform, which has seen a number of controversial games appear recently.

(Image: 'Acid')

It is important to note that 'Active Shooter' would not have been considered a 'mainstream' game.

But the ability to market and digitally distribute relatively cheaply and easily via the internet has allowed more notorious and provocative 'bad-taste' projects to crop up in recent years, as well as genuinely virtuous ones.

"The broader conversation about Steam's content policies is one that we'll be addressing soon," Valve added.