A video game distributor took down a game Tuesday in which players could execute a school shooting or act as a SWAT officer, despite research showing that school shooters are less interested in violent games.
Video game distributor Valve took “Active Shooter” down from its Steam platform, calling the game’s developer and publisher Ata Berdiyev a “troll,” reported The Washington Post.
“This developer and publisher…had previously been removed last fall…Ata is a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation,” Valve said in a statement obtained by WaPo. “His subsequent return under new business names was a fact that came to light as we investigated the controversy around his upcoming title. We are not going to do business with people who act like this towards our customers or Valve.”
The game enabled players to play as either the school shooter or a SWAT officer responding to the crisis. While Valve did not explicitly cite the violent nature of the game as a reason for its removal, pressure from various individuals, including parents of Parkland victims’ parents, may have played a role.
A study of 10 school shooters, including the perpetrators of the Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook massacres, found that only two of them routinely played violent video games. Villanova University psychology professor Patrick Markey, who co-authored “Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong,” noted the disparity between this 20 percent and figure and the seven out of ten male high school students interested in the games.
“Kids who are psychologically healthy tend to do things their peers do,” Markey told WaPo. “It’s a sign of health and normal for kids to play violent video games whether parents like it or not.”
“Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively,”Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion for Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association. “Any demonstrated effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media.”
“It’s disgusting that Valve Corp. is trying to profit from the glamorization of tragedies affecting our schools across the country,” Parkland victim father Ryan Petty, who lost his 14-year-old daughter Alaina, said on Facebook. “Keeping our kids safe is a real issue affecting our communities and is in no way a ‘game.'”
“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,” Parkland victim father Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old Jaime, said on Twitter. “This game may be one of the worst.”
Before Valve forced him to remove “Active Shooter,” Berdiyev said that he had considered eliminating gamers’ ability to play as the shooter, stated that the game would not include child characters, and had reached out to Valve for further counsel.
But research suggests that the former parents’ concerns, as well as those of President Donald Trump, who also critiqued violent video games after Parkland, may be misplaced. (RELATED: Trump To Explore Link Between Video Games And Gun Violence In White House Meeting)
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