Yesterday I received several messages from concerned fellow parents about a new video game that was set to be released in early June called “Active Shooter.” Purportedly (and Snopes confirms this as true, for what that’s worth), the Active Shooter video game was going to allow players to not ONLY choose to be the SWAT Team that shuts an active shooter down, but that also allowed the game’s players to BE the bad guy – the Active Shooter – and even simulated school shootings.
UM, NO. How could that be possible?? The last thing we need is would-be school shooters getting realistic practice on a video game. This screen shot from a preview of the game obtained by Snopes shows a tally on the left side of “civilians killed” and “cops killed.” LOVELY.
The GOOD news is that, once word of this game leaked out, there was an very effective uproar among parents and just people with common sense in general. One father of a Parkland, Florida school shooting victim at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tweeted:
I have seen and heard many horrific things over the past few months since my daughter was the victim of a school shooting and is now dead in real life. This game may be one of the worst.
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) May 27, 2018
The uproar made a DIFFERENCE, and today USA TODAY reports that the video game marketplace Steam says that is has PULLED and REMOVED the Active Shooter video game. Woohoo! Valve Corporation, the label the game was to be released under, said “after investigating the controversy surrounding the game, it learned a person identified as Ata Berdiyev was behind the game’s publisher, Revived Games, and developer Acid.”
“Ata is a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation,” said Valve in a statement.
So…that’s kind of weird…but STILL, it’s awesome that Steam and Valve listened to consumers and did NOT release the Active Shooter video game.
Now, with that being said, are there still MANY violent video games that feature killing as part of the game? Yes, yes there are. This is a very unfortunate thing in my book. Even when you’re playing the “good guy,” you can still get quite the rush when you kill perp after perp in a realistic video game. The Newtown, Connecticut shooter reportedly spent most of his time in his basement playing violent video games…then one day he emerged to turn his every day fantasy into real life.
The website Ranker has a list of all-time violent video games, and Mortal Kombat is featured as #1. It has been over-the-top gratuitously violent for YEARS, with screen shots so gory, I can’t even post them here. Yet, gamers love it, and it has legendary status among them. Another game of concern on the list is #11, called “Postal.” As the name suggests, it’s about a murderous rampage by an employee of the U.S. Postal Service. How charming. So, if you want your kids to learn to channel their workplace frustrations into a mass killing spree, make sure and let them play this game for hours upon end.
The bottom line is, from the mainstream popular Call of Duty to the disgusting Grand Theft Auto to the hate-crime-fueled Hatred, in which the main character “is an unbalanced bigot who decides to go on a “genocidal rampage” (his own words) and mass murder everybody, particularly cops and ethnic minorities,” there are LIMITLESS ways that video games can be used in a bad way by our kids. My 14-year-old is WAY into games but Zelda and Super Smash Bros. are hardly gory murder rampages. We carefully curate what he is and is not allowed to play, how much time he can spend on it, WHO HE PLAYS WITH (very important, no online gaming with total strangers allowed int his house!) and we ensure that he is actually also involved and connecting and working on real-life relationships with peers.
Even if Valve and Steam HAD released the Active Shooter video game, your kid would NOT have had to be given access to it. Please keep in mind, moms and dads, that you are the gatekeeper here. However, you should also talk to your kids’ friends’ parents about what they allow in THEIR home, and about what media your kid can consume and participate under their roof as well. You CAN’T be there every minute, but you CAN make your intentions and preferences known.
KUDOS to all those concerned parents who spoke out about the Active Shooter video game. We’ve shown this last week that our voices DO make a difference! Keep using them!