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 438)
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
nerdenstein
nerdenstein Mar 19 2011, 8:08am says:

I'm afraided to get involved here but;
I agree with INtense decision. Just because he has removed it from Moddb does not in anyway mean that it has been completely removed from the internet. If the mod team (so help me) decides to carry on this mod and release it by alternate means, nothing is stopping them. I fail to see how it is freedom of speech; next you'll be complaining that it is a removal of freedom of speech because a user is banned for posting inhumane (or something of that sort) images or jokes etc.

+3 votes     reply to comment
ReV_VAdAUL
ReV_VAdAUL Mar 19 2011, 8:13am replied:

Freedom of speech means everyone is free to speak.

ModDB is bound by no law to support freedom of speech in any way. What people are commenting on is the fact that INtense states in the article he supports freedom of speech when his actions in this matter shows he doesn't.

If he doesn't want it on the site thats his prerogative but to remove it is censorship, that is a simple fact.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Tatsur0
Tatsur0 Mar 19 2011, 8:37am replied:

Freedom of Speech trolls lol. "You can't stop ppl from doing anything or you're against free speech" It was said, there were consequences, and that sir is "Freedom of Speech". You're all bitching cause it was poorly worded, now get over yourselves and your righteous battle (Uh oh, I shouldn't have used free speech to attack freedom of speech!).

+4 votes     reply to comment
ProspectGames
ProspectGames Mar 19 2011, 8:53am replied:

"(Uh oh, I shouldn't have used free speech to attack freedom of speech!). "
No man go right ahead! That's the point, with freedom of speech you are free to comment,attack,applaud etc anyone and everything. Yes there are consequences to your actions and if moddb feels that the removal of this mod for offensive content is justifiable then so be it. However there are those of us who disagree!

+3 votes     reply to comment
nerdenstein
nerdenstein Mar 19 2011, 8:12am says:

Double Post;
Conclusion; the mod was wrong. Video game violence is one thing (and there are mods that can be considered more violent/gorey) but this plays on ideas that offend others. I'm sure there are parents on this site that would not agree to the idea of having a game where you shoot students within a school and finally shooting yourself.

My advice to the modteam; keep making mods, but deviate from a 'School Shooter'.

+5 votes     reply to comment
KortalMombat
KortalMombat Mar 19 2011, 8:17am says:

Nice cave-in MODDB.

-3 votes     reply to comment
X_Space_Balls_X
X_Space_Balls_X Mar 19 2011, 8:27am says:

Bravo Moddb. Not allowing this game on moddb site has nothing to do with infringing on someone else's freedom of speech. What about moddb's right to freedom of speech and 1st amendment. What if there was a game where you were a pedophile, and you went around raping little boys against their will with baseball bats. Would that be ok too?

If I own a store, and don't want a certain product sold at my store, I have the right not to put it on the shelf. The administrators of this community also have their own freedoms and rights, and they dont need garbage like this ruining their good name. Thank you moddb for doing what is right, it is your right. I have a hard time believing someone would defend this game and these mentally ill developers. How far have we fallen?

+2 votes     reply to comment
Slevo
Slevo Mar 19 2011, 8:40am buried:

(buried)

excuse me but this game has nothing to do with pedophilia so keep your sick fantasies to yourself.

This is a game about killing half life 2 citizens and is by no way bad :/

Damn i mean if this is bad counter strike is promoting TERRORISM that **** is serious QUICK mod db another publicity cry for attention Ban Counterstrike it creates Terrorism and teaches people to plant bombs at bomb sites and use AK47's to gun down law enforcement

-7 votes     reply to comment
thunderising
thunderising Mar 19 2011, 8:43am says:

Closing it was one thing, but closing it saying you didn't want to publicize it and then stupidly make this post, in effect publicizing the mod,

not a bad move ModDB., It's a STUPID Move.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Metalspy
Metalspy Mar 19 2011, 8:43am says:

Well I'm kind of neutral here I think, but to be honest I'm getting quite tired of the modding community these days. ModDB and Crymod are my main modding sites and the last months most people were acting like kids and overreacting. What's up with all this anger (or hate even)?

ModDB decided to remove this mod from their site, which is as far as I know the first time this happens, with good reasons. It would've been nice if they hadn't removed the mod to show the press and the ignorant mass the middle finger but it's their site, their decision.. just deal with it :s It's not like they owe you something.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Slevo
Slevo Mar 19 2011, 8:46am buried:

(buried)

If intense was seriously removing the game becuase of threats etc HE WOULD OF DONE IT QUIETLY instead he is TROLLING and making everyone Emotional About it

HE WANTS attention in other words

This is very different from deleting the game quietly. If he did that i would put my hat down to him and say Good work you cut the so called problem from the source

It wont be taken further.. But what he has done here is worse

-8 votes     reply to comment
Henley Staff
Henley Mar 19 2011, 8:47am says:

This has turned out to be quite an interesting discussion. However I do wish to make my statements made, while I have been a staff member on this site (going on 4 years now) I have seen a whole manner of different mods and indie games coming and going both good and bad. The mod in question was always on my radar, we never supported the mods design decisions to me personally it has always been teetering on the edge of being removed since day one. The only thing that kept it on the site was that tingly little feeling at the back on my skull saying "you do not have the right to decide this mods future, it is purely existing within ModDB nothing bad has come of it being here".

Since the escapistmagazine news post while we were over at GDC 2011 the mod has been getting coverage elsewhere, while no one was paying any mind to where the mod was hosted we where recently contacted by a member of a news outlet that had no interest in covering the mod as a game, but more as "look at how evil this thing is" (no words were said like that but being gamers ourselves its kinda hard not to see the true intentions).

+5 votes   reply to comment
Henley Staff
Henley Mar 19 2011, 8:47am replied:

Myself and the rest of the staff agreed that while the subject was indeed taboo and the content was developed with the intention to shock, it was really not work risking everything we have built over these past 9 or so years ModDB has been around. Regardless of what you might think we decided to distance ourselves from this potentially dangerous situation. We are a very small company, we have 4 fulltime staff members 2 part time and a handful of volunteers. I spend more time on this site, building it up, managing the content and making sure the site runs as well as it can then most of you would care to know about. The same goes for the original creator the person who wrote this news post, its his whole life.

So freedom of speech, its whatever you want to say, however you want to say it. We do support it, saying otherwise would make us just another blog who pick and choose what to show and when to show it. We do need to make exceptions to this rule, I deny a whole lot of mods daily but never on content or quality.

But your ModDB you don't need to answer to ANYBODY. We do answer to people, and they are all of you guys. We could have just removed the mod, we didn't, we decided to tell you all why, we felt you all deserved to know. And just like anybody else out there if your game/mod/pride and joy/child whatever was going to be in any sort of trouble you would without fail do your best to make sure that nothing will happen to it. While that's overly dramatic of me to say its how I feel.

+7 votes   reply to comment
Henley Staff
Henley Mar 19 2011, 8:47am replied:

If you do not agree with our decision that is perfectly fine, you are within your right to complain as some of you have, we did what we felt needed to be done, at the expense of 9 years of trust for some of you it seems, so be it. We will just have to build it up again over the next 9 years. As we grow we will develop better solutions to problems like this, maybe we could even be that site that will fight for every injustice being served to the gaming community. But we are a small team, looking after what seems a very large majority of developers projects and histories.

I think we can take the hit, even if it is only just once.

+6 votes   reply to comment
ProspectGames
ProspectGames Mar 19 2011, 9:01am replied:

"I think we can take the hit, even if it is only just once. "

While there are quite a few people who disagree with your desicion I don't think you are going to lose much support. This site is so incredibly useful and to hear it is manned by such a small team is a suprise and helps me to understand your desicion a lot more. I've made all the points I think I can make and this news post has created a really good and mostly civil discussion.

I've been using moddb for years now so thank you for running it so well and I will continue to support in whatever way I can.

+3 votes     reply to comment
thunderising
thunderising Mar 19 2011, 11:05am replied:

@ modDB guys.

what many of us mean is, WHY THE HELL did you PUBLICIZE that mod so largely by MAKING THIS POST?

Do you know, more poeple have commented and read about THE MOD you REMOVED than most other mods in the database. all thanks to you..

'nuff said

+2 votes     reply to comment
Range_Finder
Range_Finder Mar 19 2011, 11:35am replied:

Are you saying that the level of angry response seen here wouldn't have been matched if they had removed the mod covertly and said nothing? Because i think if they had then the only difference would be that people would be complaining that the mod had been removed without any notification that it had.

+2 votes     reply to comment
rellik_pt
rellik_pt Mar 19 2011, 8:57am says:

first time i dont aprove what you did moddb. shame on you

-2 votes     reply to comment
Scriabin
Scriabin Mar 19 2011, 9:01am says:

Lol, Moddb was bullied by a group of old women into removing something controversial. Ever wonder how far ahead the West would be if it weren't for Christian ethics?

-1 votes     reply to comment
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