Bellevue, WA – A video game meant to simulate a school shooting was pulled from its digital storefront just days before it was to be released.
However, the game’s release wasn’t cancelled because of its offensive subject matter, but rather because the distribution company identified the game’s creator as a Russian "troll."
The PC game “Active Shooter” has been under intense criticism since its release was announced on Steam, because the game promised players could shoot up a school and kill police officers who responded to the threat, according to CNN.
The game description said that it would let players choose whether to play as a member of a SWAT team responding to a school shooting, or to be the actual school shooter. The game tracked the number of "cops killed" with a counter.
“Active Shooter” included a disclaimer:
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 was developed by Revived Games and published by a Russian company called Acid, according to CNN.
In a statement to CNN, Valve Spokesman Doug Lombardi said Revived Games and Acid were removed from the Steam platform because of past bad behavior.
“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,'” Valve said in a statement to Deadline.
“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 statement read.
Survivors of the February Parkland school shooting were vocal about their opposition to the release of the game, which some have said would help future school shooters plan and gain the confidence to actually attack a school.
Deadline reported that “many of these games are marketed to those in their teens and 20s, and it is has arisen more than once as one factor contributing to mass shootings. Others include mental illness, easy access to guns, failure of a parent to lock up their firearms, etc.”
These sorts of video games are often found by law enforcement during investigations of school shooters after the fact, according to Deadline.
When investigators searched the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter’s home in Newtown, Connecticut, they found that he had been playing more than one violent video game and was fascinated with one entitled “School Shooting.”
An online petition was created by a Seattle mother to stop the release of “Active Shooter,” and it gained had almost 250,000 signatures at publication time.