PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - UPDATE: The controversial video game "Active Shooter" is being pulled after harsh criticism.
The game was meant to be played as a SWAT Team member during a school shooting, but the developer added the option to play as the shooter.
An online petition was created to stop its release.
A video game puts players behind the gun of a school shooter and it has the parents of those killed in the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School fuming.
“Disgusting doesn’t even put it in its place," said Linda Beigel Schulman, the mother of Scott Beigel, who was a geography teacher and cross country coach at MSD before he was killed.
The new "Active Shooter" online video game was scheduled to launch June 6 through a web store called Steam, owned by the Valve Corporation.
"It’s ridiculous. I see no value in it. I think it should be really banned from being able to come out. It’s awful," Beigel Schulman said.
The advertisement for the game says "be the good guy or be the bad guy." It allows players to pick the role of an "elite SWAT member or the actual shooter."
Either way, the scenario the video game depicts is far too real for the parents of victims who died in Parkland on Valentine's Day.
“It’s just unfathomable what it’s like to get a phone call that there’s been a shooter at a school and then to find out that it’s your son, to find out that it’s 14 year olds, 15 year olds, 16 year olds and to find yourself in the midst of a nightmare, but the nightmare is real," Beigel Schulman said.
Scott Beigel has been hailed a hero. He died letting students into his classroom.
"He could’ve stayed in classroom with his door locked because that’s protocol, but what he did in Parkland is not surprising. I would be shocked if Scott didn’t go out into that hall to save his students," his mom said. "I would be shocked and actually disappointed in my son. I would’ve liked him to save the students and still be here, but he did the right thing. He’s a teacher and those are his kids."
Even though the video game also lets the player act as a SWAT team member to take out a school shooter, Beigel Schulman said there’s nothing heroic or entertaining about it.
"After everything that’s happened, you can even take away everything that’s just happened, how could somebody come up with a game where you could be an active shooter or a member of the SWAT team? I mean what are they trying to do? Are they trying to promote violence? We’re trying to get violence out of the schools," she said.
While some say it’s just a game, proven psychological theories like the Social Learning Theory show it could lead to real-life consequences.
“If you show a kid, a teenager, a tween, a kid of any age this sort of an image, you plant an idea in their head of this school shooting, it really is a dangerous thing and it is disturbing," said Dr. Raphi Wald. "People should be upset about it.”
Dr. Wald said first-person video games offer a much more interactive and in-depth experience than simply watching violence depicted on television or in movies. He said parents should always monitor their children if they allow them to play violent video games.
"If you’re a parent and your kids play violent video games, please pay close attention to their behavior because they may not be handling what they’re exposed to the right way," Dr. Wald said.
A change.org petition to stop the game from launching on June 6 has more than 118,000 signatures as of 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The independent creator of the game, which is offered through the online web store Steam, wrote they will likely remove the shooter’s role in the game by the release after receiving so much criticism.