A blood-thirsty video game that encouraged players to take part in a school shooting has been pulled by the publisher after it triggered a furious backlash.'Active Shooter' was marketed on its ability to allow players to take on the role of a gunman on a murderous rampage inside a school, as the lone gunman, players would be shown a tally of the number of civilians and police officers they managed to kill during their simulated shooting spree. As well as a SWAT team member trying to stop the bloodshed. Anti-gun violence charity Infer Trust described the game as 'horrendous' and in bad taste' given the recent mass shootings in the US. An online petition calling for the game to be scrapped gained more than 194,700 signatures. In response to the backlash, Valve the company behind the Steam online games marketplace, where Active Shooter was due to launch on June 6 has dropped the title. In a statement, Valve said: ‘This developer and publisher is, in fact, a person calling himself Ata Berdiyev, who had previously been removed last fall when he was operating as “[bc]Interactive” and “Elusive Team”.
‘Ata is a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation.‘His subsequent return under new business names was a fact that came to light as we investigated the controversy around his upcoming title. We are not going to do business with people who act like this towards our customers or Valve.'The broader conversation about Steam's content policies is one that we'll be addressing soon.'In response to the decision to pull Active Shooter, the publisher, who used the name Arthur Belkin in correspondence, told the BBC: 'Ata is my good friend, but past games I've created are mine.'I'm still waiting for Steam's reply regarding the whole topic.'The developer had previously promised to add a ‘civilian survival mode’ shortly after the launch of Active Shooter, which would challenge players to survive for as long as possible inside a school environment with a gunman on the loose. Plans to add children into the virtual school environment were also discussed by the developer in the forums for the game. Anti-gun violence charity Infer Trust told the BBC: ‘It's in very bad taste.'There have been 22 school shootings in the US since the beginning of this year.
‘It is 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?‘We're appalled that the game is being marketed.’ The controversial video game was set to launch less than a month after 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis killed eight students and two substitute teachers with a shotgun in Santa Fe High School, Texas. Following the shooting in Santa Fe, Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick blamed the creators of violent video games and films for promoting a ‘violent culture where we’ve devalued life’.Patrick told ABC News: 'Psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you that students are desensitized to violence, have lost empathy for their victims by watching hours and hours of violent video games.'
The developer behind Active Shooter, known via the moniker ‘ACID’ on the Steam online store, published a statement in response to the backlash earlier this week.‘Since this games storefront has been live, I have been stormed with accusations and heavy critics from people across the globe,’ it read. The developer claimed the game would not ‘promote any sort of violence’ before highlighting the description of the title as a ‘dynamic SWAT simulator’.