Facebook has pulled Oculus Rift’s first-person shooter Bullet Train demo from one of the booths at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Facebook apologized for showing the demo in the wake of the recent Florida school mass shooting. Facebook’s Vice President of Virtual Reality, Hugo Barra commented saying,
There is a standard set of experiences included in the Oculus demos we feature at public events. A few of the action games can include violence. In light of the recent events in Florida and out of respect for the victims and their families, we have removed them from this demo. We regret that we failed to do so in the first place.
Hugo Barra also tweeted, “We removed the demo & regret failing to do so at the start. We got this wrong.”
We removed the demo & regret failing to do so at the start. We got this wrong. Our demos come w a standard set of content, some are action games w violence. These shouldn't have been present, especially in light of recent events & out of respect for the victims & their families.
— Hugo Barra (@hbarra) February 23, 2018
Barra said these comments after Now This News posted a video of a CPAC attendee using an automatic weapon in VR.
Facebook is at CPAC and they have a VR shooting game pic.twitter.com/wmV23jezpN
— Sean Morrow (@snmrrw) February 23, 2018
Bullet Train is a VR proof-of-concept shooting game from Epic Games and was made in 2015. The game isn’t terribly messy, but with the real-life looking guns putting bullets in people, it sparked distaste in light of the recent school shooting.
The recent Florida School shooting has attracted as much, if not more, coverage as the incident at Sandy Hook in December of 2012. Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA, said after that incident that video games are intertwined in the “callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sows violence against its own people.”
CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, started on February 21. Prior to the event, Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky, a Republican, said on a right-wing talk show that video games and media are magnifying a “culture of death” in the U.S., according to Polygon.
President Donald Trump attended a school safety meeting one day after he visited survivors of school shootings, including a few from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where Nikolas Cruz, murdered 17 people with an AR-15.
President Trump said in the wake of the shooting, “We have to look at the internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds and their minds are being formed, and we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it. And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts… And then you go the further step and that’s the movies… You see these movies, they’re so violent, and yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved,” according to The New York Times.
It is ironic to hear this come out of Trump, who has also proposed letting teachers carry concealed weapons in schools, and who is also giving in very little on a compromise for gun control legislation.
His comments are also on dangerous political turf because the concepts involve censorship of the media and press.
Facebook probably shouldn’t have let the demo run in the first place, but this was at CPAC, a community tied to the right-wing conservatives within our country, where the NRA rules.
Ultimately it is not what we consume as viewers but what we do as people that define us. Not every person who listens to Judas Priest has committed suicide, not everyone who has played Call of Duty has killed someone in real life.
Do you think Facebook should not have shown the demo of Bullet Train in the first place? Should they even be involved with CPAC? And do you think the media we consume is responsible for our behavior, or are people responsible for their own actions?