By CHRISTINE HAUSER
© 2018 New York Times News Service
The online game unfolds from the point of view of an attacker, aiming a weapon down a school corridor or throwing a grenade into an auditorium. The character creeps around corners and up staircases. Bullets spray, blood spatters. SWAT team members are shot dead. Civilians are splayed out on the floor.
The game, Active Shooter, was scheduled to be released June 6. But it ran into controversy after several recent school shootings, including massacres at high schools in Santa Fe, Texas, and Parkland, Florida.
Parents of victims of the Parkland shooting amplified the opposition to the game, calling for boycotts and seeking to block its release.
“Nothing will bring my daughter back, but there is a role for adults to have in terms of being responsible, and this is not responsible,” said Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, was one of the 17 victims of the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland. “This is gross, this is profiteering, this is unacceptable.”
Active Shooter was developed by Acid Publishing Group, which has an online page in English and Russian. The developer was planning to sell the game for $5 to $10 on Steam, a publishing marketplace run by Valve Corp. of Bellevue, Washington.
But on Tuesday evening, after facing online calls for a boycott, Valve said in a statement that it would not carry any games by Acid, the company behind Active Shooter, and that it had removed other games that Acid had published on the Steam platform.
The statement said that the person behind Active Shooter, who had been removed while operating under a different company name last fall, “is a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation.”
“The broader conversation about Steam’s content policies is one that we’ll be addressing soon,” the statement said.
Before it was removed from Steam’s website, the description of Active Shooter read: “Pick your role, gear up and fight or destroy! Be the good guy or the bad guy. The choice is yours! Only in Active Shooter, you will be able to pick the role of an Elite SWAT member or the actual shooter.”