Report article RSS Feed Why we removed the school shooter mod

We have removed the School Shooter mod from ModDB, read on for our explanation.

Posted by INtense! on Mar 19th, 2011

Allow me to begin this post by saying we believe in the freedom of speech, the right to share information and be creative. We have enjoyed watching mod developers push the boundaries for years and create amazing content, and shall always do this.

However, recently a mod on the site called School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 has been getting quite a bit of mainstream press due to the controversial nature of the content. It seems that people sit on two sides of the fence on this one. There are those that believe the makers of this mod should have the right to make whatever they want, while there are others that believe it is disgusting and crosses the line.

We sit on both sides, on one hand we find the content to be deliberately offensive and in poor taste, but on the other we also feel people should have the right to be creative and share what they want on a community / developer run site, and we shouldn't have the right to dictate what is/isn't allowed.

The challenge faced is we are currently receiving quite a bit of threatening mail as people believe we are the creators, supporters and makers of this content. I want to stress that this absolutely isn't the case. 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.

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.

Edit: We did contact the developers with no reply back in August 2010, chances are this would have ended differently if they had replied.

Post comment Comments  (150 - 200 of 460)
CountVlad
CountVlad Mar 19 2011, 6:52am says:

I'm not making a judgement on the mod as I've not seen it, but to all the guys talking about freedom of speech, where would you draw the line? When would a mod be going 'too far'? At what point should a mod be removed?

+5 votes     reply to comment
holdenmcclure
holdenmcclure Mar 19 2011, 6:55am replied:

Freedom of speech has only gone too far when it directly affects the freedom of others.

-2 votes     reply to comment
DuckSauce
DuckSauce Mar 19 2011, 7:19am replied:

That is your opinion, it is not a fact.
Discriminating a person for skin color, for example: You are speaking freely, but it's discrimination and will not be tolerated.
Does discrimating someone directly affect that persons freedom?

What about insulting a police officer, or anyone for that matter. Real freedom of speech would be saying what you think of that person("I don't like you!") insulting someone is another matter though as police officers can give you a fine for insulting an officer on duty and perhaps worse.

But does that affect their freedom directly?

The answer for both of these is no, you are trying to present your opinion as a fact, I recommend you package it as what it really is.

But perhaps I'm wrong and what you say is true, which would mean freedom of speech is drilled into the ground when it shouldn't, but to prove that, present the actual fact from a credible source.

What I'm saying may not be facts either, but it's how I've perceived them to be in my country, whether these things are right or not.

I'm however not going to hunt down the appropriate facts, the whole point of this is, if you are just giving your opinion, state it as such, what you just said came accross as quoting a fact, but without citing a credible source.

+4 votes     reply to comment
holdenmcclure
holdenmcclure Mar 19 2011, 7:22am buried:

(buried)

No I am not stating an 'opinion' I am stating the stipulations of the ******* constitution.

Do we like listening to racists? No. Do we agree with Racists? No. Do we agree with people who speak sexist, racist, discriminatory words? No. Does that mean I don't respect their right to say it even if I disagree? Also no.

"actual fact from a credible source."

Are you really gonna make me cite the 1st amendment? We can think something is wrong or offensive all we want but we can't just wish it away no matter how much you want it to.

-5 votes     reply to comment
DuckSauce
DuckSauce Mar 19 2011, 7:26am replied:

Constitution, show me a place where I can read this constitution then, again you come with no proof.

Is your country's constitution even the same as mine? And what constitution would apply to an international website that has users from all over the world?

+4 votes     reply to comment
holdenmcclure
holdenmcclure Mar 19 2011, 7:35am replied:

Alright, you have a point that US constitution does not govern the entire world, however it is my belief that the freedom of speech should be heeded regardless, and INtense states himself that he supports this belief.

Freedom of Speech as written in the constitution is as I say, a means to allow people to speak on equal opportunity lest it infringe on the rights of others. There are more specific stipulations regarding law enforcement and possibly more, but such exceptions do not apply in this case. You can easily find the actual document yourself with a simple Google search and I'd implore you to save me the effort if you're actually interested. It is not my responsibility to guide you or even help you understand the philosophy INtense claims to support.

If it is your belief that freedom of speech doesn't apply if you're personally morally opposed to something then you should know that's far from freedom of speech and defeats the purpose of the term completely, and as a user I am voicing my disappointment with the fact that the ModDB admins clearly come in with certain intentions but fail to understand how to achieve them.

-2 votes     reply to comment
DuckSauce
DuckSauce Mar 19 2011, 7:58am replied:

I have done as you say and googled the US Constitution, what I find there is but one reference to freedom of speech, namely in this section:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of
grievances. "

No other mentions of freedom relating to this subject, or any mentions regarding crossing the line of freedom of speech. So either all 4 US constitutions I've been looking through are fakes, or it's not in the US consitution, but perhaps somewhere else. For it does seem strange there is nothing about racism, affecting freedom of other others or other cases of what is crossing the line.

So, if what you say is a fact, it's not anywhere in the US consitution that I can see it, so where is this fact written then?

+3 votes     reply to comment
holdenmcclure
holdenmcclure Mar 19 2011, 8:01am replied:

There is no Freedom of Speech if we pick and choose which can speak freely DuckSauce, that is the end of the line and there is no amount of pedantic nitpicking you can strawman that can change that for any man who is capable of thought. It's a contradictory statement and I have wasted too much time arguing this frivolous line of debate that is ultimately a tangent that only pertained to a common understanding of morals that INtense claims to side with.

+1 vote     reply to comment
DuckSauce
DuckSauce Mar 19 2011, 8:12am replied:

"There is no Freedom of Speech if we pick and choose which can speak freely"

Which seems to be the case here, I can find nothing in the US constitution at least that proves the right of ModDB to say they're still upkeeping freedom of speech.

Therefore you are in the right there. Touché to you then.
Your fact still remains unproven, but it's no longer relevant, freedom of speech is broken here, because people found it to cross the lines of what's permitted, but this line only seems to exist in what the people made up, not how it is in fact.

So while ModDB does have the right to remove content as they choose legally, this then does not indeed uphold freedom of speech.

So really, +1 to you for winning this argument.

Regardless, my opinion(freedom of speech and opinion eh?) is still that ModDB did the right thing, regardless of keeping in mind those people's freedom of speech or not.

+1 vote     reply to comment
holdenmcclure
holdenmcclure Mar 19 2011, 8:26am replied:

At the end of the day, I have ideals that I wish to uphold, and I don't enforce those ideals on others, but at least try to communicate them in hopes others will agree. No camp supporting or not supporting free speech in this situation can be deemed as right morally, but INtense claims to be in one camp but acts in favor of another, which I feel is necessary to understand or at least admit.

0 votes     reply to comment
thekolokolone
thekolokolone Mar 19 2011, 8:40am replied:

Racism is still racism if you shout it out or not. Its still not right if you are racist, but you keep it in secret. Your example is a piece of **** man, go and bury yourself. If you ban something that is just a response for our sick reality, then you are a facist bastard!

-3 votes     reply to comment
DuckSauce
DuckSauce Mar 19 2011, 10:02am replied:

@SZilaJMaGGoT:
No one is banning anything, it got removed and the creators can continue to work on it and show that work.

Also way to go in butting in a debate that ended, with it being unclear who or what exactly you are screaming against is wrong, without an argument why and to top it off add a remark that's dangerously close to breaching ModDB's terms of use.

Please leave comments like "Kill/Bury yourself" out of this, I've seen no one imply anything that would even suggest fascism.

You however appear quite radical, you disagree with someone and then according to you doesn't deserve to live, I'm shocked and you are more like a fascist than whoever you were talking to.

Religion different then mine? DIE. Opinion different then mine? DIE.
See the resemblance?

Get some common sense man.

+5 votes     reply to comment
ScarT-
ScarT- Mar 19 2011, 7:13am buried:

(buried)

I'm pretty sure if we renamed the mod, and changed nothing more moddb, nor anyone else would have a problem against it. But as soon as the word "school" shows up, everybody got their panties in a bunch. Pathetic.

-7 votes     reply to comment
lasershock
lasershock Mar 19 2011, 7:22am buried:

(buried)

Please remove the statement that you support freedom of speech. Because you obviously do not.

-5 votes     reply to comment
SPTX
SPTX Mar 19 2011, 7:22am says:

The mod wasn't even polished, we were very far from school shooting, thus making that like banning Legos if someone comes to reproduce something shocking with them.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Crispy2theMAX
Crispy2theMAX Mar 19 2011, 7:23am says:

Jesus the mod was a piece of **** anyway. From what you could do already was just run in a simple building that looked nothing like a school and shoot up civilian models from HL2 was a ****** joke. I dont think they really had any intentions on working on it so quit being butthurt that one mod went down. Most of those devs were probably /b/tards anyway so it's not like it matters. Just move on.

+9 votes     reply to comment
BlueWolf72
BlueWolf72 Mar 19 2011, 7:31am says:

Regardless of free speech, moddb is and always will be a portal to list and promote what you are working on. This has nothing to do with "just cause I put it on moddb" I deserve to show the world. Whats next LittleBoysMod listed on the site. Get real peeps no one would expect that to last and while each mod is about shooting and killing, this is about family and respect. Respect that freedom.

+6 votes     reply to comment
Jokerme
Jokerme Mar 19 2011, 7:42am says:

So if Call of Duty does this it's just a game, but if some kids do this it's offending and disgusting. Way to go.

-4 votes     reply to comment
ProspectGames
ProspectGames Mar 19 2011, 8:07am buried:

(buried)

Yeah I've seen things in Black Ops which is terrible. There is a section where you torture and man by pucnching glass into his mouth! So many of our games have you do terrible things, but that's alright if you're a powerful corporation. As per usual "the little guy" gets **** on.

-5 votes     reply to comment
Jokerme
Jokerme Mar 19 2011, 8:38am replied:

There are lots of weird stuff in those games but I specifically mean the part you kill all the innocent people in an airport. It was modern warfare 2 i guess.

+2 votes     reply to comment
ProspectGames
ProspectGames Mar 19 2011, 8:45am replied:

I forgot all about that! Yes it caused controversy but suprise suprise! People got over it.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Slevo
Slevo Mar 19 2011, 7:43am buried:

(buried)

i think Mod db is trying to get in on some of the publicity way to stab developers in the back mod db...

-11 votes     reply to comment
open_sketchbook
open_sketchbook Mar 19 2011, 7:45am says:

Good on you, Moddb. A lot of pepople don't understand how freedom of speech works; the fact of the matter is, it's your site, your rules, and you can run it how you like. You don't have to allow people to use your site to troll. Let them get their own hosting.

+7 votes     reply to comment
holdenmcclure
holdenmcclure Mar 19 2011, 7:49am replied:

The people arguing freedom of speech, such as myself, are not claiming by any means that ModDB is obligated to keep this mod up.

In fact, they could just remove everything and ban everyone and they'd still be perfectly legal. They own this site, and it's their right to do what they want with it.

The point here is that they're claiming that they support freedom of speech in this situation, and claim to be a platform for those values when they're clearly contradicting that statement. We clearly have similar goals and desires in the end but people including myself have different beliefs as to how to achieve that final goal properly.

+3 votes     reply to comment
ReV_VAdAUL
ReV_VAdAUL Mar 19 2011, 7:55am buried:

(buried)

ModDB can indeed do whatever it likes regarding hosting content. But they cannot at the same time claim to foster an open and creative community and support free speech. If they want to keep the community they have, the community that makes the software that keeps them in operation, that generates the ad revenue that funds the site and so on then they sadly do have to take into account what the community thinks.

-7 votes     reply to comment
open_sketchbook
open_sketchbook Mar 19 2011, 8:06am replied:

And not all the community thinks they are wrong. Keep that in mind.

Or does my freedom of speech end when YOU disagree?

+6 votes     reply to comment
ProspectGames
ProspectGames Mar 19 2011, 8:28am replied:

I guess this is the problem, that everyone has their own view on freedom of speech. We can turn to the governments of our countries for their definitions, but this is a website run by a company who (under those laws) have every right to control their site.

The way I see it is that if a mod conforms to moddb's rules (which they lay out very clearly when you set up a page, make a news post etc) then it should not be removed. In this case Moddb removed the mod due to external pressure, they went beyond the rules stated to us and made a special instance.

My problem (and I think many others) with this is that if a special instance can be made to removed that mod, a special instance could be made to remove any of our mods. All it seems to take is external pressure from journalists.

+1 vote     reply to comment
SPTX
SPTX Mar 19 2011, 7:48am says:

"Games are bad, and make you bad." - Angry concerned parents drawing guns to kill devs in Postal 2. If here is a way to show how hypocrite these ***** are, Running with scissors did it well.

+1 vote     reply to comment
ReV_VAdAUL
ReV_VAdAUL Mar 19 2011, 7:50am says:

Fundamentally freedom of speech applies to all speech, not merely speech that you agree with. The people in the comments putting forward the assertion "but I don't like it, it wasn't a very good mod, etc" are fundamentally opposed to freedom of speech.

As to it being offensive and pushing boundaries, well again that's a key point of freedom of speech. A hundred years ago the idea of women being able to vote was offensive, 50 years ago black and white people marrying was offensive and so on. Just because something offends people does not mean it should not be said. Perhaps this mod was without worth but fundamentally it is not for you or Jack Thompson or whoever to decide. As others have said plenty of other games contain death and murder, you have just arbitrarily decided to oppose those things in one mildly controversial mod.

"Whoa, well Moddb had people saying mean things about us and our ad revenue was potentially affected so we decided this went just a bit too far" is not in any way the actions or beliefs of an organisation that supports freedom of speech. Your statement you support freedom of speech is nothing but a bald faced lie.

-3 votes     reply to comment
open_sketchbook
open_sketchbook Mar 19 2011, 7:54am replied:

We're not fundamentally opposed to freedom of speech. We're opposed to this idea you can make other people's mouths say what you want. If moddb doesn't want to be associated with this mod, they don't have to host it. They aren't stopping them from speaking; they can get their own site and their own host. They are simply distancing themselves from it, making sure that what the mod is saying can't be associated with what they are saying.

And bravo to that. Lets keep a little class around here.

+6 votes     reply to comment
holdenmcclure
holdenmcclure Mar 19 2011, 7:58am replied:

"We're opposed to this idea you can make other people's mouths say what you want."
That is not what's happening, for the same reason that Gabe Newell is not responsible for the creation of this mod simply because he and his team developed Source engine and it's SDK.

-2 votes     reply to comment
open_sketchbook
open_sketchbook Mar 19 2011, 8:02am replied:

It is most certainly what is happening. And free speech just means you can say what you want; it doesn't mean you don't have to face the consequences of saying it. We have Free Speech in Canada, but hate speech is prohibited. You can say it, but once you do, you have to face the consequences for doing so.

This mod was basically hate speech. They said there piece, now they face the consequences.

+6 votes     reply to comment
ReV_VAdAUL
ReV_VAdAUL Mar 19 2011, 8:00am replied:

"We're not fundamentally opposed to freedom of speech. We're opposed to this idea you can make other people's mouths say what you want. If moddb doesn't want to be associated with this mod, they don't have to host it"

So you only support free speech when you agree with it. That is to say you support unfree speech. As I said in a reply to your previous comment ModDB is free to host whatever they want. If however they selectively host mods based on what outside groups say (they after all had no opposition to hosting the mod till outside forces started to comment) then they do not support freedom of speech.

"And bravo to that. Lets keep a little class around here. "
What wonderful weasel words, to repeat my previous assertion, 100 years ago some people thought women voting wasn't classy, 50 years ago that different races shouldn't marry. Prohibiting speech because it isn't "classy" is fundamental opposition to free speech.

As to the nature of class, why is the murder in this game badwrong but the murder in any number of other mods, with much higher death counts in RTSes for instance classy? Does murder become unclassy when Jack Thompson emails Gabe Newell? Is that the dividing line?

-1 votes     reply to comment
open_sketchbook
open_sketchbook Mar 19 2011, 8:05am replied:

Get that strawman **** out of here. My right to wave my arms ends at your nose; my right to free speech ends at hate. And that's all that mod was; it was a little twisted pretzel of hate and malicious intent intended to gain attention.

+5 votes     reply to comment
holdenmcclure
holdenmcclure Mar 19 2011, 8:07am replied:

"my right to free speech ends at hate."
Then you don't support free speech. End of discussion. If you don't support freedom of speech then leave it at that, just don't claim to support it when you don't.

-4 votes     reply to comment
open_sketchbook
open_sketchbook Mar 19 2011, 8:11am replied:

I don't support your definition of free speech, perhaps. But I'm fully in favour of letting people speak. I just don't agree with your quaintly American concept that it's your right to hurt other people, in word or in deed.

+9 votes     reply to comment
CovertChaos
CovertChaos Mar 19 2011, 3:28pm replied:

Freedom of speech is indeed saying what you want to say, but practical freedom of speech has its limits.

+3 votes     reply to comment
ReV_VAdAUL
ReV_VAdAUL Mar 19 2011, 8:07am replied:

Oh disagreeing with you is a strawman, how quickly any speech you disagree with becomes worthless and worthy of censorship.

-2 votes     reply to comment
open_sketchbook
open_sketchbook Mar 19 2011, 8:09am replied:

Disagreeing with me is not a strawman. It's your imperative. However, saying I wouldn't have supported women's rights or decriminalization of interracial marriage most certainly is. Keep it on topic.

+5 votes     reply to comment
ReV_VAdAUL
ReV_VAdAUL Mar 19 2011, 8:11am replied:

I highlighted that just because something isn't considered classy doesn't mean it is without worth and cited examples. If you can't comprehend the difference between supporting evidence and an accusation perhaps you shouldn't be throwing out such strong condemnations of those who disagree with you.

-1 votes     reply to comment
open_sketchbook
open_sketchbook Mar 19 2011, 8:13am replied:

Supporting evidence? You were using a linguistical quirk in my argument to make an appeal to history. It was hardly a smashing logical blow.

+6 votes     reply to comment
ReV_VAdAUL
ReV_VAdAUL Mar 19 2011, 8:15am replied:

So now you're resorting to ad homiems to justify your lack of ability to comprehend legitimate criticism.

Clearly you regard any disagreement with you as without worth. Fair enough, at least you support internal censorship as well as external censorship.

-3 votes     reply to comment
holdenmcclure
holdenmcclure Mar 19 2011, 8:13am replied:

"saying I wouldn't have supported women's rights or decriminalization of interracial marriage most certainly is.
Excuse me? Where did he say you did? I'm sorry but clearly we were both wasting our time talking to you about this. He said that it was free speech that enabled people those rights, he never said anything about you personally denying those rights.

-2 votes     reply to comment
anonymous32675
anonymous32675 May 1 2011, 10:47pm replied:

Are you really comparing history of women not being able to vote and disdain for interracial marriages to a website not posting a ridiculous game?
Yeah, super "classy" to run around shooting kids in a video game. I'm sure it's just ahead of it's time and in 50 years we'll be looking back remembering "School Shooter" as a pivotal point in our nations history.
Groundbreaking Media. LOL

+1 vote     reply to comment
ProspectGames
ProspectGames Mar 19 2011, 8:15am replied:

"If moddb doesn't want to be associated with this mod, they don't have to host it. They aren't stopping them from speaking; they can get their own site and their own host. They are simply distancing themselves from it, making sure that what the mod is saying can't be associated with what they are saying."

I agree, they arn't stopping them from making this mod and they have the right to remove it from their website. However they cannot also claim to be for freedon of speech at the same time. This site is filled to the brim with "terrible content". Killing, torture, mutilation, war, famines, genocide, child murder etc.

I'm working on a L4D2 mod, in that game you ruthlessly kill humans infected with a virus that makes them act against their will. It's terrible, but supported by moddb, as is all that torture, genocide etc. To say this one mod is hate, while stomping on the heads of defeated enemies and mass murder in other mods isnt is crazy.

Oh and no one is being harmed by this. People might be getting upset but christ people got very upset over Dogma! I do still support their right to remove this mod though, it is their website and they should have control over it.

+4 votes     reply to comment
open_sketchbook
open_sketchbook Mar 19 2011, 8:17am replied:

Moddb might be hurt by it; the content could drive away advertisers. Other modders could be hurt by the association.

Also, your mod won't offend anyone; there is no league of infected zombie individuals who will lobby against this. There are, however, real life victims of school shootings. Going out of your way to offend them and hurt them isn't free speech, it's an attack. It is hate. It is without defense.

+5 votes     reply to comment
open_sketchbook
open_sketchbook Mar 19 2011, 8:25am replied:

I am currently working on a mod that features the Vietnam War, one of the most pointless and horrifying conflicts in the 20th century. If a person came up to us and explained that they were offended and explained why they were offended, we would discuss it with them and make approprete changes. Having free speech is not a license to be a ****.

+7 votes     reply to comment
ProspectGames
ProspectGames Mar 19 2011, 8:44am replied:

Your models for that game are looking good! I can see where you are coming from but I think your argument can be scaled back like so,

"There are, however, real life victims of the Vietnam War. Going out of your way to offend them and hurt them isn't free speech, it's an attack. It is hate. It is without defense."

Your game is turning a conflict in which millions died into a fun gaming experience, that could easily offend people who actually went through it. I have no problem with that though, your game looks good and its good that you are willing to talk to those who would be offended by it, but I see no reason why you need to change it because that is all you would be doing, offending someone.

"there is no league of infected zombie individuals"
Haha correct but there from my other examples there are plenty of people who would get offended (whether their offense is justifiable or not).

"Having free speech is not a license to be a ****. " I think it is. Because being a **** is subjective, when a Christian or Muslim (the most common where I live to do this) tells me (on the street on my day off where I am trying to relax) that I am a sinner who deserves eternal torture, I think of them as a ****.

Others however would not. And while I am offended, angry and sometimes upset by what they say, I support their right to do so because they havn't hurt me or opressed me. They have discriminated sure, by calling me a sinner, saying I deserve death etc. So I'm just applying that to this situation, this mod offends, upsets, angers, and that is alright! They should be allowed to when so many others do so.

I can see why other people see this differently and I don't want to get angry at anyone, it's great that we are all talking about this and can work towards a consensus.

+1 vote     reply to comment
VagabondPraetor
VagabondPraetor Mar 19 2011, 8:05am says:

No such thing as a freedom of speech if you can decide on what shows on this site like this.

0 votes     reply to comment
OdinM1
OdinM1 Mar 19 2011, 8:05am says:

You know what? **** the media. Their just a bunch of overgrown insipid trolls with a big budget that take the smallest thing and blow it up to the point of insanity. Giving into them is just asking for more pain. Hell, it's just like saying they're right!

-1 votes     reply to comment
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