This is a follow-up to my post about the most recent ‘school shooting’ video game which I posted here. If you haven’t read it yet, I ask that you please read that first before continuing.
Over the holiday weekend, there was a slew of news articles about the parents of school shooting victims who were outraged over the game. I was all ready to write a post asking them to just ignore the game. I understand that it’s a slow news weekend and the media is shoving microphones in your face looking for a sound bite. I also understand that you’ve endured a pain that only a few but increasing number of people understand and your outrage is understandable.
However, that post was rendered null and void after the video game platform Steam removed the game from its store. That does allow me to talk about the game by name since I doubt the so-called developer will be making any money from the world’s largest online distributor of PC games. The game was called Active Shooter and Steam has pulled the game from its store not due to any outside pressure, or so they say, but because the developer was a known troll who had been banned from the platform previously.
Steam said in a statement that the creator of the game that simulates a school shooting had previously been banned from the popular platform but changed the name of his business to return to selling games. The company called the game’s creator a “troll with a history of customer abuse.”
That developer has published other controversial games called “Tide Pod Challenge” and “White Power Pure Voltage.”
As an aside, I looked at the Steam page of White Power Pure Voltage and it wasn’t a game about anything racist. It seems that only the name was designed to court controversy, but I digress.
My point is, we’re at a time where video games can be made by just about anyone. They’re no longer the sole domain of giant game companies. So when one of these games comes out that’s designed by a basement-dwelling edgelord, the best thing to do is ignore it and it will wither on the vine. I realize the media is constantly throwing controversy in our faces, but as a society, we need to reserve our outrage for more serious matters. If we’re outraged at everything then we’re actually outraged at nothing.
By the way, Hatred is still available on Steam.
So there’s this video game coming out next month that has the media and various other pearl clutchers up in arms. It was announced shortly after the recent school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas and it’s being referred to as a ‘school shooting game’. I’m not going to link to the game or any articles about it or mention it by name because it doesn’t even deserve the attention it’s getting. The game is centered around a mass shooting. Supposedly, you can play as a member of a police SWAT team responding to the shooting, or, of course, you can play as the shooter. Distasteful? Yeah, pretty much, but as a society, we need to stop being so sensitive about things like this without knowing the facts.
First off, it’s been over 40 years since video games have been able to be played at home and still there are too many people who think video games are just for kids. Video games have been made for both kids and adults for over 20 years now. Having said that this is not a game that is going to be released by a major publisher where it will be on every store shelf waiting to be played on your kid’s Nintendo Switch. As far as I can tell the game is being made by one man and is only being released on Steam for the PC. This is the equivalent of some nobody making a controversial YouTube video in their basement and everyone else reacting to it like it was a major motion picture.
The creator of the game claims he’s not trying to cash in on a tragedy, but we’ve heard that story before. There have been several instances in the past where after a major school shooting some attention seeking troll tries to get everyone riled up by making a game based on the shooting. They either claim it’s art or they’re making some grandiose political statement when in reality it’s more like sophomoric mass murderer fan fiction. The only difference being is the killer doesn’t have some kind of weird fetish sex with the game’s developer.
As for the people who might get a sick thrill out of this game, they’re already lost to us, but they are a very small minority of gamers. This or any game isn’t going to turn your kid into a school shooter. However, if I had a kid of school age, I would not let them play this game. Since it’s only available on Steam it will require a credit card or PayPal to be purchased. If you allow your young children to run amok online with any of these forms of payment then the real problem is you.
When games like this come out what we should do is ignore them. Media outrage and social media conniptions are exactly what these Philistines are actually after.
Don’t forget, when a headline asks a question the answer is usually no, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
For those of you who may not be familiar with Steam, it’s the most popular platform for PC gamers to purchase and download their video games. Like most platforms and social networks, Steam also has a community section where users can start their own communities to discuss a varying number of topics. Unfortunately, a number of these communities are tributes to Columbine and school shooters.
According to a Motherboard article searching Steam’s groups for “school shooter” returns 248 results. A similar article from Slate clams there are at least 173 groups on Steam that glorify school shootings. This isn’t the first time Steam has come under fire for being associated with a school shooting, as Aztec High School shooter, William Atchison, was a Steam user and posted several racist diatribes on the platform.
Does this mean there’s some credence to the alleged link between video games and school shootings? Not in the least. If anything, it lends credence to my theory that kids who identify with school shooters, known as columbiners, who hang out in these communities are more likely to be a school shooter than your typical gamer. Communities like this have been around since Columbine became a thing, and have been on multiple platforms. There have been message boards dedicated to the cowardly Columbine killers, not to mention communities that go as far back as being on LiveJournal. Today, they exist on platforms like Tumblr among others.
What concerns me is a lot of these gamers who are posting on Steam are kids, and it’s obvious their parents have no idea what their kids are up to online. The parents are either unwilling to take the time to check on their kids, are too impatient to learn the technology kids use, or are too trusting of their kids and would rather be their friend than their parent. If one of your kids has a Columbine or school shooting obsession do something about it. It’s not just a phase, it’s a sign of mental illness. Get them help before they hurt themselves or someone else. Getting them help doesn’t make you a failure as a parent, you’re a failure if you don’t.
Thanks to Ryan for the tip.