The intentionally, unabashedly offensive School Shooter: North American Tour 2012, designed to be "the most realistic student slaughtering modification ever made," has lost support from its former host. ModDB, original host of the Half-Life 2 mod—and hundreds of other mods—has pulled School Shooter from its site.
ModDB founder Scott "INtense!" Reismanis says site administrators yanked School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 after "getting quite a bit of mainstream press due to the controversial nature of the content" in an open letter to the site's users.
Designed by Checkerboard Studios, School Shooter lets players carry out their own versions of the Columbine High School and Virginia Tech massacres, with weapons based on the ones used by killers Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold and Seung-Hui Cho. The game's singular goal is to kill as many "students" as possible, with the option to commit suicide at the end of each round.
"The possibilities are endless," reads the game's description. "You are free to do whatever you want. As long as it involves shooting people."
Reismanis writes that ModDB dropped the mod after "receiving quite a bit of threatening mail as people believe we are the creators, supporters and makers of this content."
"We have never encouraged or made any content, we disagree with the mod but at the same time believe in freedom of speech and the unique ability modders and indie developers should have to create games (good-or-bad) about topics, issues and events considered risky or taboo," Reismanis says.
"There is also quite a bit of confusion from non-gaming press, who state that games like this are the reason why all bad things occur, spreading misinformation and fear. As a result of this confusion and hate, at the moment we feel the best course of action is to remove the mod. We don't want the hard work of thousands of other mod developers to be threatened by people misunderstanding this one mod/game, and assuming all others are like it."
Reismanis tells the ModDB community that the site's admins "believe in the freedom of speech, the right to share information and be creative" and enjoy "watching mod developers push the boundaries." School Shooter appears to be too hot for ModDB to handle, however, and reaction from site users seems mixed, with many arguing that the site should not have removed School Shooter North American Tour 2012 based on its content.
We've contacted Checkerboarded Studios to get their opinion the removal of School Shooter.
Update: Jamie "pawnstick" Lombe from Checkerboarded Studios says his team was "never contacted by ModDB [about the removal of School Shooter], even though they insist they did" and that the team plans to use the studio's site to promote the game mod.
"We are absolutely planning on releasing," Lombe tells Kotaku, "and since the removal of the mod various people prominent in the Half-Life 2 mod community have come forward wanting to contribute for School Shooter."
"ModDB should not have handled it in such a rash way," Lombe feels. "I would have been willing to make modifications to the page to state that ModDB is in no way affiliated with the development instead of removing the mod suddenly and not even sending me an email informing that my mod was removed."