A blood-thirsty new video game that encourages players to take part in a school shooting has triggered outrage online.
The upcoming game, Active Shooter, lets players choose between taking on the role of a SWAT team member trying to stop an ongoing school shooting — or the role of the shooter themselves.
Those who play as the shooter will be shown a tally of the number of civilians and police officers they have managed to kill during their simulated shooting spree.
Anti-gun violence charity Infer Trust has described the game as ‘horrendous’ and in ‘bad taste’ given the recent mass shootings in the US.
‘Pick your role, gear up and fight or destroy!’ the description on the Active Shooter listing declares.
‘Only in “Active Shooter”, you will be able to pick the role of an Elite S.W.A.T team member or the actual shooter.
‘Depending on the role, your objective might be to protect and extract or hunt and destroy.’
The developer has promised to add a ‘civilian survival mode’ shortly after launch, which will challenge players to survive for as long as possible inside a school environment with a gunman on the loose.
Anti-gun violence charity Infer Trust has called on Valve – the company behind the Steam online games store, where Active Shooter will be available to purchase – to take the title down before it goes on sale worldwide, on June 6.
A spokesperson for Infer Trust told the BBC: ‘It’s in very bad taste. There have been 22 school shootings in the US since the beginning of this year.
‘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.’
The controversial video game will launch less than a month after 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis killed eight students and two substitute teachers with a shotgun in Santa Fe High School, Texas.
Following the shooting in Santa Fe, Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick blamed the creators of violent video games and films for promoting a ‘violent culture where we’ve devalued life’.
Patrick told ABC News: ‘Psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you that students are desensitized to violence, have lost empathy for their victims by watching hours and hours of violent video games.”
The creator of Active Shooter, known via the moniker ‘ACID’ on the Steam online store, published a statement in response to the criticism.
‘Since this games storefront has been live, I have been stormed with accusations and heavy critics from people across the globe,’ the statement begins.
The developer states the video game ‘does not promote any sort of violence’ before pointing to the description of the game as a ‘dynamic SWAT simulator’.
The statement, which was posted on Steam on May 23, adds: ‘I have written to Valve regarding this game and waiting for the reply.
‘After receiving such high amount of critics and hate, I will more likely remove the shooter’s role in this game by the release, unless if it can be kept as it is right now.’ (sic)
Steam users have flooded the comments to support the game, pleading with the developer to release the game with the controversial shooter element intact.
One user wrote: ‘F*** anyone that’s demanding this game is removed. Most of us aren’t stupid enough to have trouble understanding the difference between fantasy and reality.’
‘Do not be censored by this nonsense,’ another added.
It’s unclear whether the developer, whose other games include ‘Tyde Pod Challenge’, ‘Furry’ and ‘White Power: Pure Voltage’, will alter the gameplay before the release of Active Shooter.
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