Like a lot of video games, “Active Shooter – the Simulation,” promises an adrenaline rush through the squeeze of a make-believe gun trigger. But this new game, set for release next week, has a controversial twist: Players simulate being gunmen who exchange fire at a school.
“Pick your role, gear up and fight or destroy! Be the good guy or the bad guy. The choice is yours!” reads a description of the action on Steam, a digital game distribution site.
The game’s scheduled release comes against the backdrop of a barrage of school shootings, including one in Santa Fe, Texas earlier this month that killed 10 people.
Another shooting at an Indiana middle school just last week injured two, and might have turned deadly if not for the heroics of an unarmed teacher who tackled the shooter, a student at the school.
So far, there have been 21 school shootings that have hurt or killed people in 2018, averaging to more than one shooting per week, according to CNN. This includes the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 17 people, one of the most deadly shootings ever in the United States.
The epidemic of shootings has fueled much of the outrage that has greeted the game. A petition on Change.org demanding that the “Active Shooter” game be canceled has garnered over 11,000 signatures. “How can anyone sleep at night knowing that they are profiting from turning deadly school shootings into entertainment?” the petition asks.
“Active Shooter” is billed as a “dynamic S.W.A.T. simulator,” which allows players to be either a S.W.A.T. team member of or the shooter in school settings, according to Variety. The game’s release is set for June 6 on the videogame marketplace Steam, which allows people to publish games on the site for a $100 fee, and developer Revived Games is planning to release a survival mode, allowing players to become civilian characters during shootings.
According to Variety, a disclaimer on the game’s Steam page warns players “not to 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.”
In a post on Steam, without a trace of irony, Revived Games said that their game “does not promote any sort of violence.”