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School-shooter video game pulled from sale amid national outrage

Jacob Tierney
| Wednesday, May 30, 2018, 11:36 a.m.
A screenshot from 'Active Shooter,' a controversial video game that promised to pit player-controlled SWAT officers against a player-controlled school shooter. The game was pulled from sale by Steam, a large online retailer.
A screenshot from 'Active Shooter,' a controversial video game that promised to pit player-controlled SWAT officers against a player-controlled school shooter. The game was pulled from sale by Steam, a large online retailer.

A video game that promised to put players in the role of a school shooter has been pulled from sale before its release.

"Active Shooter" generated national controversy since it was announced by Acid Publishing Group last week.

The multiplayer game pitted player-controlled SWAT team members against a player-controlled school shooter, who is tasked with gunning down their opponents and computer-controlled civilians.

It was set to be released June 6 on Steam, the largest online platform for downloadable PC games.

Valve Corporation, which owns Steam, announced Tuesday the game would be pulled from its store.While investigating the game, Valve said one of its creators had been banned from Steam before.

"This developer and publisher is, in fact, a person calling himself Ata Berdiyev, who had previously been removed last fall," the company said in a statement to the New York Times , USA Today and other media outlets. "Ata is a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation."

Berdiyev did not respond to requests for comment from the New York Times or other outlets, but on Twitter he disputed Valve's accusation. He tweeted the Seattle Times to say he is the developer's friend, but did not make the game.

In a blog post on Steam last week, before the game was yanked, Acid Publishing Group said it was considering removing the school-shooting aspect from the game, focusing instead on creating a "dynamic SWAT simulator."

"This game does not promote any sort of violence, especially any sort of mass shooting," the post said.

It is unknown whether Acid will publish the game on its own, without going through Steam.

Many were outraged by the game, including Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg, killed in February's school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Guttenberg said on Twitter the game "may be one of the worst" things he's seen in response to the shooting.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson took to Twitter to call the game "inexcusable."

More than 200,000 people supported a petition calling for Valve to ban the game.

In its statement to media outlets, Valve said it may update the way it evaluates games like "Active Shooter."

"The broader conversation about Steam's content policies is one we'll be addressing soon," the company said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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