By Jeremy Rogers
A game that appeared on the Steam storefront today that will allow players to play as a school shooter is causing controversy, especially in light of the shooting at Santa Fe High School on May 18th. According to testimony from Russian developer Revived Games, the game will allow players to play either as an active shooter armed with an assault rifle, a member of a responding SWAT team, or a civilian, in what the developer calls a “survival mode.”
Many people in the Steam community have responded negatively to the game’s appearance on the storefront, with several claiming to have flagged the game to be removed by Steam’s parent company, Valve. The developer defended themselves from criticisms of depicting the mass murder of students and teachers by stating, “Nowhere around it mentions you can kill students, teachers, kids and so on. While the setting is the school, NPC’s are considered to be civilians, rather than anybody else.” The developer also defends their game by invoking titles that have caused controversy in the past. “As I mentioned in steam discussion forums, there are games like Hatred, Postal, Carmageddon and etc., which are even worst [sic]compared to “Active Shooter” and literally focus on mass shootings/killings of people.”
The game is not an instructional tool, according to the developer. In the game’s description, the developer instructed potential customers to “not take any of this seriously.” However, the game has no apparent similarities to software like the US Department of Homeland Security’s Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) that allows first responders an opportunity to simulate a response to situations like school shootings.
The lead developer of Revived Games, Arthur Belkin, is no stranger to negative responses to his games though. Past games such as Upside Down (Later renamed White Power: Pure Voltage), Dab, Dance & Twerk, Tyde Pod Challenge and Furry have all been met with criticism, a consistent through-line being that SBelkin’s games seem to be more focused on chasing trends and memes rather than creating engaging, well-polished gameplay experiences.
Belkin’s latest trend is one that this year alone has seen more people murdered in schools than have been killed while serving in the U.S. military. Steam has yet to issue a statement on Active Shooter.
Jeremy is junior majoring in News Journalism and Telecommunications and minoring in Political Science and American History. Though he is Byte’s Senior News Editor, he also writes reviews, features, and guest stars on podcasts.