Controversial video game Active Shooter has come under further attack, this time from PayPal, who have closed the account of the games’ developer, Acid Software. Initially reported by the Associated Press, this latest move comes in the wake of heavy criticism which was levelled at the company from both anti-gun lobbyists and the relatives of victims of real school shootings. A spokesperson for PayPal confirmed the move in a short statement, which read:
“PayPal has a longstanding, well-defined and consistently enforced Acceptable Use Policy, and regardless of the individual or organization in question, we work to ensure that our services are not used to accept payments for activities that promote violence”
The game itself does not exclusively limit players to being a school shooter, but rather also allows them to become a member of the SWAT team responding to the incident. With a number of weapons to choose from, and a kill counter that tracks both civilian and police deaths, it is easy to see why the title is a target. That being said, it does reopen the debate around what is acceptable in an industry that does not currently have to conform to as many standards as more well established sectors, like Film and Television.
Context is clearly key, and the glorification of acts such as these should of course be discouraged, but the tone of the piece of work needs to reflect the content. Films are not afraid to cover difficult topics including terrorism and sexual assault, as they shouldn’t be, but reflection remains important. That is where this game gets it wrong. The industry should absolutely be able to broach issues such as these, but Active Shooter simply does a bad job. It’s arcade style, over the top gameplay does nothing of illustrating the enormity of these events, and nor do I think they are trying to. This is what they should be criticised for.