UPDATED, 3:51 PM: Facing harsh criticism from families of mass shooting victims as well as an online petition and negative press reports, Valve, Inc. has decided to pull the Active Shooter video game from its online gaming store, Steam. It has also removed content from publisher ACID and its game developer. A spokesperson for the Valve, Inc, just issued this statement to Deadline:
We have removed the developer Revived Games and publisher ACID from 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”. 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 broader conversation about Steam’s content policies is one that we’ll be addressing soon.
“We applaud Valve for acting so quickly to remove this game and to realize how wrong and irresponsible it was,” said Stacie Armentrout, a parent whose family survived the Las Vegas mass shooting on October 1, 2017 where 58 people were shot and killed and hundreds others injured both physically and mentally.
PREVIOUSLY, 11:26 AM: Parents of those murdered and those who survived from multiple mass shootings are denouncing a video game published by Valve, Inc. called Active Shooter where a player can choose to play as a school shooter so they can racked up kill numbers. Published by Acid Publishing out of Moscow and ready for debut on June 6 on Windows PC through Valve Corp.’s online gaming store Steam, the game allows the player to kill cops and civilians (students, teachers) as they walk through a school with an assault rifle.
Parkland parents Ryan Petty, the father of Alaina Petty who was only 14 when she and 16 others were slaughtered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and her murdered classmate’s father Andrew Pollack (his 18-year-old daughter, Meadow Pollack, was shot and killed) have taken to social media about the video game. Both have condemned the game as it “crosses a line” and also that it’s “a disgrace.” But they are not alone as other families across the country have also weighed in.
The video game carries a disclaimer: “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.”
“This is another definition of ‘blood money.’ The release of this game is simply cruel-intentioned,” Christopher Hansen told Deadline. Hansen survived the mass shooting in the Pulse Club in Orlando before helping others who were injured that day; 49 were murdered. “As we move forward in our techno ways through virtual reality, new ways of gaming through role playing, live-action, or in the comfort of your own home with the ability to train yourself as being an active shooter … this can’t be the new age of America. Our reality has become someone else’s virtual playground on the broken hearts and homes of others as real-life active, shooter gaming scenarios. Schools, churches, movie theaters, and even night clubs have all been victimized by such tragedy and now to allow young minds to be filled with the corruption of how to carry out an active shooter situation is inhumane.”
The game also allows the player the option to become a SWAT member. “Yes, there is an option to be the ‘Good Guy’ but honestly that should be the only option in this ‘game’ if it is produced,” said Stacie Armentrout, a parent whose family all survived the Las Vegas mass shooting on October 1, 2017. Fifty-eight people were murdered and hundreds injured that day.
Armentrout notes that mass shootings are a multi-pronged problem, and a number of issues need to be addressed if America wants to find a resolution. “This is just one layer in the overall problem in our culture and society today. We need to all come together to talk and realize that the issues we are facing with mass shootings isn’t just one issue, it is multiple, and until we can all agree that there are several issues we will never be able to change,” she said. “As a parent, a responsible gun owner, and a survivor of the worst mass shooting in the U.S., this ‘game’ in its current state should be banned.”
Armentrout’s 15 year-old daughter, Nora, who survived the shooting and designs video games in hopes of doing it professionally after graduation, told local media in Las Vegas that designers always have to think about their game’s audience.
Many of these games are marketed to those in their teens and 20s, and it is has arisen more than once as one factor contributing to mass shootings. Others include mental illness, easy access to guns, failure of a parent to lock up their firearms, etc.
Most mass shooters are young, white males and these kind of violent video games are often found in their rooms after law enforcement investigates. In fact, after police descended on the shooter’s home in Newtown, they found that he was playing more than one violent video game and also kept a spreadsheet of mass shootings and how many “kills” the previous shooters were able to rack up. He was fascinated with one, in particular, entitled School Shooting.
A similar video game cropped up after Newtown using the layout of the Sandy Hook Elementary School. That was also quickly denounced.
“As a parent, this so-called ‘game’ is disturbing and disgusting. Violence in TV shows, films, and in video games can affect our children. It is not just the violence in (TV, film, & gaming) that can affect our children it is also the behaviors and language they witness,” Armentrout said. “With my own children I have seen behavioral changes after watching too many shows that allow disrespect of their elders, for example. Stop that show and the behavior disappears. While I understand free speech, it is also our duty to use that freedom properly and for the betterment of all. We need to teach our children respect, kindness, tolerance, and love for all. This so-called ‘game’ does nothing to promote good solid core values in our youth and society. It, in fact, promotes and glorifies killing your fellow human.”
A petition against the game started on Change.org and is almost at 100,000 signers.
This comes after another incident last night in Vegas when concertgoers reported that a member of the punk rock band NOFX took to the stage Monday night and cracked a joke about the mass shooting saying, “That sucked, but at least they were country fans, not punk rock fans.” People, some were survivors of the shooting or knew survivors of the shooting, got up and walked out.