Some of the titles available from the online video game marketplace Steam have names — like Suicide Simulator — that are fairly self-explanatory. Others have more innocuous titles that conceal the darker thrust of their game play: In the forthcoming Kindergarten, for instance, cartoon children are shot in the head by the school principal or hacked apart by the janitor.
It was a role-playing game called Active Shooter, however, that recently inspired broad protest, including condemnation from the parents of victims of the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. Last week, the game, in which players prowl a school campus from the point of view of an attacker, had its scheduled release canceled by Valve Corporation, the software and technology company that operates Steam.
But far from backing away from controversial games entirely, Steam has now decided to “allow everything” on its platform, it said on Wednesday, carving out disqualifying exceptions only for content it finds to be “illegal, or straight-up trolling.”
Doug Lombardi, a Valve spokesman, emphasized that Active Shooter would never have made the cut. “It was a troll, designed to do nothing but generate outrage and cause conflict through its existence,” he said in an email, noting that the game’s developer, Acid Publishing Group, had also been involved in “numerous misrepresentations, copyright violations and customer abuses.”