Valve has always had trouble with censorship on its Steam gaming platform. Back in 2014, it faced backlash for removing a game which allowed you to play as a mass murderer from Steam. The criticism regarding the controversial move peaked to a level such that Gabe Newell himself apologized and reinstated the Greenlight status of the title.
A few days ago, the company got into hot water for attempting to censor anime-style visual novel games. Now it has come under fire for allowing a game centered on a school shooting on its platform.
Active Shooter, developed by Revived Games and published by ACID, allows you to take control of an "Elite S.W.A.T member" or the shooter himself. The former allows you to extract civilians while the latter gives you the opportunity to "hunt and destroy" them.
Needless to say, the title, which is scheduled for release on June 6, has received lots of criticism from people around the globe. In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson from Infer Trust - a charity which seeks to raise awareness regarding firearms misuse - had the following to say:
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.
In response, the publisher has noted that its game does "not promote any sort of violence", saying that:
Originally when this game started its course of the development, I have planned on having SWAT only based gameplayer. Then I thought about adding more gameplay to it by adding additional roles: of the shooter and the civilian. While I can see people's anger and why this might be a bad idea for the game, I still feel like this topic should be left alone. As I mentioned in steam discussion forums, there are games like Hatred, Postal, Carmageddon and etc., which are even worst compared to "Active Shooter" and literally focus on mass shootings/killings of people.
I have wrote to Valve regarding this game and waiting for the reply. After receiving such high amount of critics and hate, I will more likely remove shooters role in this game by the release, unless if it can be kept as it is right now.
Although Active Shooter's description warns that the game is not to be taken "seriously", given some recent tragic events, one has to question what possessed the developer to release a game which promotes hunting and shooting children as one of its primary components.