One week after a student shot and killed 10 people in Santa Fe, Texas, digital video game storefront Steam and publisher Valve are being criticized for an upcoming game that lets the player kill civilians and cops in a school environment.
“Active Shooter” comes out June 6 and calls itself a “dynamic S.W.A.T. simulator” where the player can be either a S.W.A.T. team member or the shooter. Developer Revived Games also plans to release a civilian survival mode where the player takes on the role of a civilian during a shooting.
A disclaimer on the game’s Steam page reads: “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.”
Infer Trust, an anti-gun violence organization, recently told the BBC the game is “in very bad taste.” “There have been 22 school shootings in the U.S. since the beginning of this year,” a spokesperson said. “It is horrendous. Why would anybody think it’s a good idea to market something violent like that, and be completely insensitive to the deaths of so many children? We’re appalled that the game is being marketed.”
Revived Games addressed the issue in a Steam post on Thursday, saying “Active Shooter” doesn’t promote violence, especially mass shootings. “While I can see people’s anger and why this might be a bad idea for the game, I still feel like this topic should be left alone,” they said, while pointing out that Valve allows other infamously violent games on its storefront like “Hatred,” “Postal,” and “Carmageddon.”
Right now, the Steam Direct program allows anyone to publish a video game on the platform for a $100 fee, but it does have some guidelines. Hate speech is forbidden, along with pornography and adult content that’s not appropriately labeled. Valve recently cracked down on certain sexualized visual novels, warning developers it would pull the games from Steam if the content wasn’t removed. Valve also forbids content that’s “patently offensive or intended to shock or disgust viewers.” “Active Shooter” seems to fall under that category, yet it remains on the store at this time.
Due to the high amount of criticism the game’s received, Revived Games added it will likely remove the shooter’s role from the game before launch “unless it can be kept as it is right now.”
Variety contacted Valve about this story and what it plans to do with “Active Shooter,” but it did not immediately respond.