After a string of school shootings in recent weeks, a video game that allows players to assume the persona of a gunman has sparked a massive backlash. Set to be released on June 6, players of the game will have the option to be either a member of a SWAT team combating the shooter or be the gunman.
“Active Shooter” features a simulated school environment, according to a report by Fox News.
“Pick your role, gear up and fight or destroy,” says the game’s description. “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 your role, your objective might be to protect and extract or hunt and destroy.”
Featured on Steam, a digital distribution platform managed by Valve, the developer states, “Please do not take any of this seriously,” but that statement likely won’t be enough to quell critics.
As players take on the game’s challenges, they are given “game stats” that show how many civilians and police officers were killed during the encounter.
The game has received harsh criticism for releasing shortly after the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas where 10 were killed and another 10 wounded.
Anti-gun violence organization Infer Trust stated that the video game is “in very bad taste” particularly since there have been 22 school shootings throughout the US in 2018 alone.
“It’s 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?” said a spokesperson for the organization.
“We’re appalled that the game is being marketed.”
A petition has been created to stop the release of the game and has already collected thousands of signatures.
In a statement, Steam responded to the backlash, stating that the game “does not promote any sort of violence, especially any sort of mass shooting,” and referred to the excerpt describing the game as a “dynamic SWAT simulator.”
Based on the “high amount of critics and hate,” the game creator will “likely remove the shooter’s role.” However, the school setting will probably remain.