B.C. school used as backdrop in violent first-person shooter game
This screen shot shows a 'Developer Sequence' of a B.C. high school used as a backdrop for the 'Counter Strike' video game (YouTube)
Published Sunday, March 24, 2013 8:09AM EDT
A video gamer's use of a Vancouver-area school as the backdrop in a first-person shooter game has administrators alarmed and upset.
The decade-old, multi-player game "Counter Strike" allows users to create their own scenarios, known as "maps," that they can then share with others.
Officials at Port Moody High School contacted police on Thursday after discovering that a digital replica of the school was developed as a map and posted online in a YouTube video.
The sequence does not specifically show students being shot at. Instead, the shooter wanders the school firing at opponents. The name of the school is visible on a banner during play.
An online statement attributed to an entity described only as "The Developer" of the map said the school was used because its "architecture and design is rather ideal for the game's tactics."
It was not clear whether one or multiple people developed the map, but the statement indicated the designer graduated recently from Port Moody High School and created the map for use by a small group of fellow alumni.
"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," the statement said.
"Rest assured there is no malicious intent behind this production to any actual school property, nor any actual persons associated with the school," the statement added.
The Port Moody Police Department did not consider the map to be a threat.
"Although the creation of such a video game is likely ill-conceived in the current climate, it does not constitute an offence," the police said in a statement released Friday. "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."
The online statement from the map's designer indicates that police in fact interviewed that entity and not the developer of the game itself.
Addressing the issue of whether creating a map of a school for the game in the wake of recent school shootings such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, the statement said, "We ... think players of this map and games like this will be sufficiently mature to realize that the degrees of freedom alloted [sic] to you in the virtual realm do not extend to your rights in reality."
However, youth studies professor Shirley Steinberg, speaking on CTV News Channel, said "How would we feel if we saw a mapped point of our house? I think it's really scary and incredibly psychotic.”
The map is incomplete and may never be released to the public, the designer said.