A school shooting video game depicting a real high school -- Port Moody Secondary School in British Columbia, Canada -- has sparked outrage in the wake of several school shootings that rocked the nation.
In a YouTube video of the game, a shooter walks around the school and uses guns and other weapons to defeat enemies with the school as a backdrop. Part of the “Counter Strike” game series, it allows users to create their own backdrop using digital reproductions during game play, including real-life places, which in this case was the Port Moody Secondary School halls, classrooms and campus. The name of the school is clearly visible on a banner at one point in the game.
The video game comes after several school shootings, from Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., to Taft High School in Kern County, Calif., that rocked the country and spawned a gun control debate for citizens and lawmakers.
While CTV News said the video game is more than a decade old, attention was placed upon this school shooting game after a developer sequence was uploaded to YouTube on March 20.
CBC News reported teachers and school administrators have expressed concern over the game, where the user wanders around the scene called “maps” using automatic assault rifles to shoot at enemy forces or military opponents.
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The person who developed the game has not come forward, but has been answering questions on his website. He said gamers are "sufficiently mature to realize that the degree of freedom allotted to you in the virtual realm [does] not extend to your rights in reality." Identified as “The Developer,” the man said he is an alumnus of Port Moody Secondary School and defended his game.
"Let us start by saying Port Moody Secondary is a great school," he wrote on pmssmap.tk. "This is a location we are quite familiar with already. Additionally, supporters and fellow alumni are also likely familiar with this location, which makes it an ideal common ground for this game and its intended audience. Rest assured there is no malicious intent behind this production to any actual school property, nor any actual persons associated with the school. Additionally, people should realize this is simply a game. No physical harm comes from it. Guns in reality are generally lethal weapons. Guns in a videogame can't hurt anyone. There are no students being killed. The gameplay is the same as all counter strike games, where you have two teams fighting against each other, much like most other shooters which use public settings as game environments.”
Before “The Developer” came forward, another gamer named Aarman Rahim was wrongfully pinned as the game developer before he clarified in a statement on pmssmap.tk.
"The developer has not been publicly named," Rahim wrote. "You guys do realize you're reporting on a video game. One that's been out in various incarnations since 1999."
"For all of you who may have witnessed some recent events featured in the news, let me assure you that I did not develop the game," he continued on Facebook Thursday. "I merely supplied resources for this digital architecture project. There is a developer who created the map for the game itself, but that endeavor, I was not involved with."
Port Moody Police have stepped in to investigate after several residents in the area expressed concern on Thursday.
"Although the creation of such a video game is likely ill-conceived in the current climate, it does not constitute an offense," a Friday statement from police said. "Investigators from the Port Moody Police Department have interviewed the developer of this game and have concluded that he does not pose a danger to the staff or students of Port Moody Secondary."