Earlier this week, a game called Active Shooter appeared on Steam. It’d be nothing more than another heap of hacked-together pre-purchased assets—or an “asset flip,” as they’re known on Steam—if not for its subject matter. It’s about mass shootings.
The unreleased game’s Steam store page describes it as a “dynamic S.W.A.T. simulator” in which you play as a shooter, a S.W.A.T. team member trying to neutralize them, or a civilian. Its trailer depicts a player running down school halls and through classrooms, indiscriminately murdering teachers until a S.W.A.T. team shows up.
Complaints about the game have been fierce, and yesterday the person behind the game said they’ll probably remove the option to play as the mass shooter.
Almost as soon as the game’s store listing went up, Steam users took to the game’s forums to voice their distaste.
“I love offensive humor as much as the next guy, but you’re dense as hell if you can’t see why a pay-to-play school shooting simulation game might be taking it a step too far,” said one user.
“REPORT THIS GAME,” said another, more succinctly.
The game’s Steam forums are dominated by threads calling for the developer to reconsider and for Valve to do something about the game, as well as people criticizing Valve for the fact that it gives the boot to many games containing nudity while letting the likes of Active Shooter fester on digital shelves.
Anti-gun violence charity Infer Trust has called for Valve to remove Active Shooter from Steam altogether. “It is horrendous,” a spokeswoman told the BBC. “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?”
This isn’t the first time Steam has been criticized for school shooting-related content. Before a quiet crackdown from Valve that took place earlier this year, Steam reportedly played host to hundreds of user-made groups that glorified school shooters. Kotaku reached out to Valve about Active Shooter yesterday, but has yet to hear back.
In response to all of this, Active Shooter’s developer released a statement. “First of all, this game does not promote any sort of violence, especially any sort of a mass shooting,” they wrote in a post on Steam, noting that the game was originally just going to be about S.W.A.T. teams, but then they decided to make shooters and civilians playable as well.
“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 continued. “As I mentioned in Steam discussion forums, there are games like Hatred, Postal, Carmageddon and etc, which are even worst [sic] compared to Active Shooter and literally focus on mass shootings/killings of people.”
They added that they will “more likely” revert the shooter character to being unplayable before the game’s June 6 release date, pending a response from Valve.