After getting booted off Steam
for past infractions, Active Shooter
developer Anton Makarevskiy is still planning to release his controversial game through his company Acid Software, he announced on Twitter. He also insisted that his game, which tasks the player with either locating and terminating a school shooter, or playing the part of the shooter and targeting students and law enforcement, does not promote violence or extremism.
The game sparked a debate when it landed on Steam because of its sensitive content first and foremost, and secondly the timing of its submission. School shootings have unfortunately become an all-too-common occurrence, with two horrific mass shootings so far in 2018 alone. In February, 14 students and three faculty members were shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and more recently nine students and one teacher perished during another senseless shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas.
Active Shooter runs with the theme of school shootings, with the developer explaining that he originally planned on only having players take the role of a SWAT member.
"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 [sic] compared to 'Active Shooter' and literally focus on mass shootings/killings of people," Makarevskiy explained.
There's no doubt the developer was (and still is) attempting to capitalize and profit from the horrific events that continue to plague schools in the US. At the same time, there are games like Grand Theft Auto V
where players can have sex with a prostitute, then beat her to death and take back the money they paid, among other acts of violence. There's also a torture scene in the game that can't be skipped.
A game based on school shootings that keeps track of the kill count as the player mows down cops and students still seems in bad taste, but should it be banned? That's the debate. Valve ultimately sidestepped the issue by banning the developer
because of past infractions, calling him a "troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation."
As far as the developer is concerned, however, it's about freedom of expression. He also points out on Twitter that Active Shooter does not violate any terms of service, though the argument is moot since he was banned from Steam for other reasons. It also does not apply to his own storefront, since he obviously would not put in place any ToS that would prevent him from selling his own game. As it stands, the asking price is $20. The product page indicates he's sold 26 copies so far, which works out to $520.