Russian-developed intense shooter game removed from Steam following online petition and social media outrage.

Never overlook the power of consumers to spark outrage and enact change. Recently, actress Roseanne Barr’s reboot of her original self-titled television show was cancelled by its network, ABC, due to racist remarks the actress shared on Twitter. The public outcry was such that the network cancelled the show within hours of the tweet.

Now, further outrage directed towards a video game has prompted game distribution platform Steam to remove a title called “Active Shooter.” In this intense first person POV action game, players can roam the hallways of the high school, shooting both students and police officers at will. More than 180,000 signatures were collected for an online petition to remove the game, and vocal critics on social media included family members of the victims from the recent Parkland, Florida school shooting.

The bigger issue

At a time when the Trump administration and other GOP lawmakers have blamed everything from violent video games to single mothers to access to pornography for the epidemic of school shootings and other gun violence, titles such as this one don’t do their developers or publishers any favors. The fact that it was published by a Russian company, ACID, only further plays into the current suspicion about Russia’s interests and intentions in the US.

For its part, Steam has already removed Active Shooter from its online shop ahead of the game’s release date, but that brings up other concerns about Steam’s content. As the creators behind this game poignantly mention, where is the outcry for the many other video games that actively support a mentally ill game player arming himself and shooting citizens at random? Is the issue the body count, the age of the victims, or the fact that it’s a school?

Just a bad joke?

According to a statement from ACID, though, this game isn’t even all that terrible. “First of all, this game does not promote any sort of violence, especially any soft of a mass shooting. As I said in the description of the game. Active Shooter is essentially a dynamic SWAT simulator in which dynamic roles are offered to players.”

Yes, players can choose to be SWAT members who attempt to take down the shooter, but that is not the only role they can play. Also, according to other reports on the game, the developer responded to a would-be player’s request for more child-like characters to “blast into bloody chunks” by saying, “Hey, why not. I’ll make sure to add young NPC models before release.”

The developer now claims that statement was sarcasm, and has struck it from the blog post.