Parkland Parents Are Appalled by a Video Game That Simulates School Shootings

Video game screenshots released by the developer are seemingly taken from the perspective of the shooter and show students being gunned down throughout a school. 
MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/GETTY

For years now, we've faced all too frequent, often daily school shootings in the U.S. A bevy of factors—from access to automatic weapons to toxic masculinity—play into the crisis, and violent video games are often considered part of the problem. Now, a computer video game called "Active Shooter" is set to be released on June 6, and its premise is downright jaw-dropping. It's no wonder that parents of students who were shot to death during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are protesting its release.

The "SWAT simulator" game, developed by Revived Games and published by the Russian company Acid, lets players choose between being an active shooter terrorizing a school (yes, really) or the SWAT team responding to the shooting. The Guardian reports that screenshots released by the developer and seemingly taken from the perspective of the shooter show SWAT team officers and students being gunned down in various locations, including a gymnasium, corridors, and cafeteria.

According to ABC News, the game won't be sold for a console system, but gamers can buy it for $5-10 on the PC video game marketplace Steam, which boasts more than 125 million users. The publisher is also releasing an alternate "civilian" mode.

The Miami Herald noted that the description of the game comes with 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."

Of course, a disclaimer like that doesn't even begin to make the premise of this game remotely acceptable. 

Thankfully, Marjory Stoneman Douglas parents are taking a strong stance against the game. On Sunday, May 27, Ryan Petty, the father of a 14-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas High student killed during the Feb. 14 mass shooting, called for the game's release to be canceled. "It's disgusting that Valve Corp. is trying to profit from the glamorization of tragedies affecting our schools across the country," Petty said in a statement. "Keeping our kids safe is a real issue affecting our communities and is in no way a 'game.'"

And Andrew Pollack, who lost his 18-year-old daughter Meadow Pollack in the Florida school shooting and founded the school safety advocacy group Americans for CLASS, said, "The last thing we need is a simulated training on school shootings. Video game designers should think of the influence they hold. This really crosses the line."

Meanwhile, Acid has responded to the backlash, writing in a May 23 blog post that the game "does not promote any sort of violence, especially any [sort] of a mass shooting," but "after receiving such high amount of critics and hate, I will more likely remove the shooters role in this game by the release, unless if it can be kept as it is right now." Later, in a written statement to the Miami Herald, Acid owner Arthur Belkin said it was "sad people in America create such [a] big scandal about a video game...rather than focus on the actual issue."

Unbelievable. Although it is the parents of Parkland who are speaking out against this particular game, surely, people across the country deserve to be outraged. Anyone who want to joins the parents who are speaking out against the game can sign a petition on Change.org.

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