Yesterday I happened to observe that the Steam gaming platform, which is owned by Valve Corporation, will soon play host to a game called Active Shooter, which lets the user choose whether to play a school shooter or the SWAT team trying to stop him. While there may be no direct link between violent video games and violent actions in the real world, the normalization, and even apparent glorification, of school shooters is something I believe goes beyond distasteful into unacceptable, given the ongoing mass shooting crisis we face in the United States and the utter failure of the often NRA-funded Republicans in power to address it in any serious way. Given what we’ve learned in recent months regarding the serious impact of Russia’s influence on the United States via social media, it should certainly also raise our eyebrows that the developer of Active Shooter is a Russian company.
There was another school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School just this morning, and we do not have to live this way. We need sensible gun control, but we also need to push back against the current upsurge in violence associated with toxic masculinity and rising fascism by drawing clear lines on on matters of norms, values, and decency. When a corporation chooses to act irresponsibly, consumers and the public have every right to call on that corporation to clean up its act, and that is a different thing than direct government censorship, and is in no way a violation of the First Amendment.
With the above in mind, I think we need to hold Valve’s feet to the fire for allowing their platform to be used for this disgusting game, particularly in light of the fact that Steam, according to this Hate Report, plays host to 173 user groups that overtly admire school shooters. With that in mind, I am co-signing Rachel Murphy Azzara’s open letter to Valve Corporation, which I reprint in full below, with her permission.
Dear Valve Corporation,
It has come to my attention that there is an Active Shooter game on Steam that simulates the type of mass shootings we’ve been experiencing in schools at an unprecedented rate. This is shockingly irresponsible. This is made that much worse by the lack of oversight in Steam chat rooms that glorify school shooters, even Nazism.
My son plays on the Steam platform regularly. As a parent, the lack of responsibility your company is showing, is extremely disturbing. As Director of a political organization, it raises a serious question about the need to organize a consumer response to irresponsible gaming sites.
I would like a response to this issue – why Valve would allow this type of content and if there are plans to rectify this situation.
Rachel Murphy Azzara
Democrats Work For America
As of May 29, 2018, Valve has not only pulled the launch of Active Shooter, but has cut ties with the developer of the game. Score one for grassroots activism!