Violent video games have been around for a long time, but a new addition to the shooting game market is being condemned even before it has been released.
The new game, scheduled for release June 6, is called “Active Shooter” and simulates a school shooting. Billed as a “police-response simulation, it allows the game player to play the role of a SWAT team member responding to a school shooting. Alternatively, the gamer can play as the “active shooter,” racking up kills as the game keeps a running tally.
The game’s publisher, Acid, says it plans to sell the game for $5 to $10 on the video-game marketplace Steam, which is operated by Valve Corp. Acid is also planning to release an alternate “civilian” game mode.
Not surprisingly, the game’s concept is drawing strong condemnation, including from parents whose children were victims of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
One parent, Ryan Petty — whose 14-year-old died in that shooting — said in a statement Monday: “It’s disgusting that Valve Corp. is trying to profit from the glamorization of tragedies affecting our schools across the country.”
Another parent, Andrew Pollack, father of an 18-year-old killed in the attack, said in an Associated Press story that the new game was created by “sick people.”
“The last thing we need is a simulated training on school shootings. Video game designers should think of the influence they hold. This really crosses the line,” Pollack added.
Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter was among the 17 people who died in the Parkland massacre, said on Twitter: “I have seen and heard many horrific things over the past few months since my daughter was the victim of a school shooting and is now dead in real life. This game may be one of the worst.”
The game reportedly includes a disclaimer stating: “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.”
The game’s publishers might think the disclaimer gets them off the hook, but the fact remains the game is in extremely poor taste. And is the disclaimer really going to prompt someone with anger or mental-health issues to seek professional help if they’re pondering an act of violence? Not likely.
Game publisher Acid said in a blog post last week that its game does not promote violence, but said it might remove the shooter’s role from the game.
Better to remove the game entirely. First-person shooter games are plentiful enough in the video-game market. One simulating a tragedy that has become all too common is definitely crossing a line that shouldn’t be crossed.