Parents of victims of the tragic Parkland shooting are speaking out against a new active shooter video game slated for release on June 6.
The Guardian reported that a new video game that “simulates a school shooting incident has been labelled ‘disgusting’ and ‘despicable’ by parents of children” who died during the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February in which fourteen students and three staff members were killed and seventeen others injured.
Billed by its Russian publisher, Acid, as a swat team simulator, Active Shooter invites players to take on the role of an armed officer responding to a school shooting. However, the game also allows users to play as the shooter or as a civilian attempting to escape the scene.
Using a first-person perspective, similar to shooters such as Call of Duty, Doom and Counter-Strike, the game looks to be entirely set within a school. Screenshots released by the developer and seemingly taken from the perspective of the shooter show swat team officers and students being gunned down in various locations including a gymnasium, corridors and canteen.
The Miami Herald added that:
The game is set to be released about four months after a gunman killed 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and less than a month after 10 more were killed at a shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas. It also comes during a year when survivors of the Parkland shooting revived a debate on gun control that led to wall-to-wall news coverage and a global March For Our Lives demonstration.
On Sunday, Ryan Petty, the father of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas student killed during the shooting at her school in February, called for the game’s release to be canceled. His daughter Alaina was 14.
Petty posted a link to call for the game’s cancellation on his Facebook page as well as the following statement:
“It’s disgusting that Valve Corp. [Steam’s parent company] is trying to profit from the glamorization of tragedies affecting our schools across the country. Keeping our kids safe is a real issue affecting our communities and is in no way a “game”. “
— Ryan Petty (@rpetty) May 27, 2018
Fred Guttenberg, the father of another Parkland victim, 14-year-old Jaime, called for a boycott of the game in a series of highly emotional tweets.
“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,” he wrote in one tweet.
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.
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) May 27, 2018
Q13-Fox reported that a local Seattle woman, Stephanie Robinett, heard about the upcoming release of the game and started a Change.org petition asking Valve not to release the game.
“It turns my stomach; it makes me sick to watch it,” said Stephanie Robinett as she watched clips from the video game Active Shooter.
Robinett says around noon on Friday she found out about the game. The mother of three says she could not believe a video game like this would even exist.“How could anyone think this is OK,” she said.
“It’s not OK to do it in a school, and any reasonable company should know that,” Robinett said.
The Change.org petition has gathered over 59K signatures so far at the time of publication of this article.
The petition states:
Valve Corporation of Bellevue is planning to launch a video game on June 6 that is a school shooting simulator. This is horrific.
The company is taking the stand that this game is legal because of free speech and everything else that tech billionaires hide behind when they are doing something the public knows is absolutely, morally corrupt but legally fine – but we cannot stand for this.
How can anyone sleep at night knowing that they are profiting from turning deadly school shootings into entertainment?
Please sign this petition asking Valve [Steam’s parent company] to not launch this game.
The Guardian reported that the game’s Russian developer Acid
Released a “clarification” on the game’s Steam page, claiming that Active Shooter “does not promote any sort of violence, especially any soft [sic] of a mass shooting”. On its Steam store page, however, potential purchasers are told to “Pick your role, gear up and fight or destroy!”
The statement also claims that the game was originally intended to make only the swat team officer playable, but the developer then added the ability to play as the shooter or a civilian. The clarification ends by suggesting the developer may omit the possibility of playing as the gunman. “After receiving such high amount of critics [sic] and hate, I will more likely remove the shooters role in this game by the release, unless if it can be kept as it is right now.”