The game — called Active Shooter — allows people to play as a S.W.A.T team member as well, according to its website:
Active Shooter - the Simulation. Pick your role, gear up and fight or destroy! Be the good guy or the bad guy. The choice is yours! Only in “Active Shooter”, you will be able to pick the role of an Elite S.W.A.T member or the actual shooter. Lead your team, extract civilians and neutralize the shooter.
The website touted, among other things, its “realistic first person controller,” “impressive” artificial intelligence, and “real life situations” in the game.
It prompted a Change.org petition which gathered more than 20,000 signatures.
“Valve Corporation of Bellevue is planning to launch a video game on June 6 that is a school shooting simulator. This is horrific,” petition founder Stephanie Robinett wrote.
The petition called the game “morally corrupt but legally fine,” saying that company was hiding behind claims of “free speech.”
“How can anyone sleep at night knowing that they are profiting from turning deadly school shootings into entertainment?” the petition asked.
Someone claiming to be a school teacher commented, saying:
I’m an elementary school teacher. My students live in fear of going to school and being murdered. This game is unacceptable. School shootings are not a game. They must be stopped if at all possible.
Another remarked that profiting from the game was “sick and sad and so wrong.”
I'm signing because we are all responsible for this and we cannot sit silently by while our children are killed in schools and companies do their best to profit from this. It's sick and sad and so wrong. Please sign and forward.
On Saturday, the game's publisher, named “ACID," claimed it "does not promote any sort of violence, especially any [sort] of a mass shooting.”
The publisher pointed to other games it said were worse and indicated it might remove the option of playing the shooter before the game's release on June 6.
“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,” a user named “ACID” wrote.
The publisher also admonished people from taking the game “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),” it said.
News of the game came amid a broader discussion about what causes mass shootings. While many on the left have pushed for greater restrictions on firearm use, others have pointed to concerns about the media that shooters consume.
National Rifle Association (NRA) spokeswoman Dana Loesch specifically called out the media for continuing to mention the shooters' names.
“The media has got to stop creating more of these monsters by oversaturation,” she said after the Santa Fe shooting:
“#MSM has got to stop creating more of these monsters by oversaturation. I'm not saying don't responsibly report on things as they happen. I understand it. But constantly showing the image of the murderer, constantly saying their name, is completely unnecessary.” —@DLoesch #NRA pic.twitter.com/9GjK3sLrDr
— NRATV (@NRATV) May 19, 2018