Game developer Skaldic Games, i.e. Randall Herman, has made a game so offensive its page was removed from Steam Greenlight in a matter of hours. It was so offensive, in fact, that many of the game's voice actors have distanced themselves from the project and claimed they were misled about the context of their dialogue.
The game in question, titled "Kill the F****t" [censoring ours], tasked players with shooting folks who appear gay or transgender in some fashion - like sporting a pink vest, for example. Upon slaying a civilian, the in-game text reads: "f****t killed", "transgender kill" or "you killed a straight person". Killing gay men increases your score, transgender folks are worth even more points, and only murdering a heterosexual person penalises you.
Furthermore, the narrator celebrates your bigoted slaughter with announcements such as "straight pride", "you killed that f****t" and "AIDS carrier eliminated." Games critic Jim Sterling made this totally NSFW video about it:
It's little wonder why this was removed from Steam Greenlight. Incredulously, developer Randall Herman offered no apologies for the hateful piece of work, which he claimed was a troll game designed to "piss off those people that are way too overly sensitive".
In a statement on the Skaldic Games homepage, Herman explained that this game was designed to be a mini-game included in Skaldic's upcoming open-world survival sim The Shelter: A Survival Story. Then, he decided to release it standalone as a sociological experiment.
"I decided to release it on Greenlight to see people's reactions," Herman said. "The reason behind this particular game is because of how tired I am of people being overly sensitive and how easily offended people are by every little thing, especially with LGBT issues.
"I didn't make this game to attack LGBT people personally, and no I don't hate gays and think they should be treated fairly, but I made this game just to piss off those people that are way too overly sensitive, which includes straight people," he added. "These people that think if you are even remotely homophobic, you are 'hateful' and a 'bigot', and do everything they can to destroy you in every vicious way possible."
As such, Herman sought to troll the internet be releasing this. "I decided to go down a path that most developers are afraid to go down: to piss these people off by making the most overly offensive game possible to these idiots to prove a point. The point being that a crappy made video game would offend people so much. I mean so offended that people will waste all their time posting on forums, Reddit, etc of how disgusted they are, offended, how much everyone involved in the game should die, and even getting into large debates over it."
Naturally, that's what happened and Herman couldn't have been more pleased. "Successfully trolled the entire LGBT community," he wrote on Twitter. "Thank you media for spreading this troll game around. You did exactly what we were hoping :)"
What Herman perhaps did not expect was for the voice actors and band involved in the game to turn on the project so strongly.
Voice actress Rachel Lally wrote a lengthy Facebook post revoking the usage rights of her recordings to Skaldic Games, which she claimed tricked her into recording audio for The Shelter, then released her work in a much more damaging context.
"I don't see the merit, humour or artistry in 'pissing people off' and was certainly not made aware that that is what Skaldic is about or aims to do," she wrote. "It is easy to 'piss people off' as you say, what is difficult and what we as creators, artists and collaborators should strive to do is to reveal, challenge and hopefully change attitudes in an enlightening and thought provoking way. Not by relying on outdated stereotypes and intentionally offending easy targets or minorities simply for attention."
"I am also aggrieved by the fact that you would call anyone offended by your actions an 'idiot'" she added. "Here you are sorely mistaken as I can clearly see I am more educated and possess more empathy than you have had the fortune to be exposed to on this subject at the given time. I really hope that this will change."
"I honestly don't think you think of yourself as homophobic, and I don't fear the inevitable young boys or girls who might find your game and have a laugh at the one-dimensional stereotypes portrayed, what worries me is that those who are profoundly homophobic, those who do become formally organised to hit the streets and target violently and indiscriminately will elevate your game to cult status, that they will feel validated by your creation and will enjoy laughing at and jeering the comments and complaints that have resulted since its publication, and find each other through the conversations that arise."
"For this reason and those outlined above I wish to revoke all permission to use my voice, name or likeness for 'The Shelter' or any other Skaldic projects," she concluded. "You sought to offend and I am well and truly offended."
Irish folk metal band Cruachan's frontman Keith Fay was also involved in the development of The Shelter, and by extension Kill the F****t, and likewise pulled his support for the studio.
"We did not know anything about this when we agreed to appear in their still in progress game The Shelter," Fay said on Cruachan's Facebook page. "A statement was released by the games company that tried to explain their intention. The statement was juvenile and bizarre, basically saying if you are offended by the game you are an idiot. Well I am offended and I am not an idiot.
"We cannot condone this game and hereby disassociate ourselves with it and Skaldic games. We have informed the company that they no longer have the rights to use our voice recordings, likeness or any Cruachan music. We are all for free speech etc. but not when it's spreading hatred towards a demographic."
Fay noted that he had never even heard of Kill the F****t until 4th May when it was released.
Another actress related to The Shelter, Lori Beth Denberg - who previously appeared in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, The Steve Harvey Show, and All That - stated on Twitter, "I knew NOTHING about skaldic's disgusting game/views. I will NOT be a part of anything they do. The second I found out yesterday I WAS OUT!"
I e-mailed Herman about the controversy surrounding Kill the F****t. "Do you think there's merit to the criticism that it echoes hostile sentiments that a lot of people in our society actually have?" I asked. "And that as such, some folks might not understand that it's an intentional trolling game, but rather a sincerely violent screed against those with similar sexualities?
"Let me put it this way: If you made a game about killing all puppies, few folks would find it offensive because that's such an outlandish premise. But killing gay people is something that some real people actually want to do. Are you at all concerned that Kill the F****t will be played unironically and perpetuate those hostile attitudes?"
This was Herman's response:
"The game was not intended for people to play as hostile, and of course I don't support killing of any kind. The truth is I am not against gays, I am against the people that do everything they can to destroy genuine people that they think disagrees with gay rights or gay marriage."
This isn't the first time a game has come under fire for its offensive content on Steam Greenlight. In December, civilian mass murdering game Hatred was removed from Valve's crowdsourced voting service only to be re-instated a couple of days later when Valve boss Gabe Newell apologised for its hasty decision to remove the title. Hatred quickly became the most requested game on Steam Greenlight and it's slated to premier next month as Steam's first AO-rated title.
The difference is that Hatred seemingly applies an equal opportunities approach to mass murder whereas Kill the F****t targets a couple of very specific groups. And when Hatred is your more politically correct point of reference, it's probably a sign to rethink your project.