We liked what we saw when we first saw Ready or Not, a SWAT-style shooter. It is set in a corrupt and crumbling near-future US and features gameplay inspired by SWAT and Rainbow Six. Players are challenged to “defuse hostile or confronting situations.” It was initially expected that it would release in 2020. However, it launched in Early Access on December 17.

Void Interactive, a developer, announced it had ended its relationship with Team17, the publisher, just a few days later. The studio tweeted that Void Interactive and Team17 had agreed to cease publishing Ready or Not. “We believe this is the best path for Ready or Not’s future. We thank Team17 for their partnership, and wish them much success with their range of games.”

Although no reason was given for the split, it occurred just days after a Ready or Not user asked if there should be a school shooting mission in the game. Void Interactive’s developer responded, “You better believe that it’s going to.” Although the response was deleted, it can still be viewed via the Wayback Machine

It is widely believed that Team17 did not believe a school shooting level was appropriate, and Void Interactive refused to change it. However, a Void Interactive representative denied any connection between Team17’s split and the school shooting level.

Void Interactive addressed this issue in a Twitter statement:

This issue cannot be addressed simply without triggering strong emotions from different groups. However, we will try our best. Let me start by mentioning one quote from our original company documentation. This is something we believe in and have believed for many years. It has been well-known to everyone who has done business with us.

“Void Interactive is committed to delivering high-quality, impactful content. This commitment is something mainstream software developers might be reluctant to make because of cultural norms and conventions. Void Interactive values the opinions of its customers and partners. While it will not direct our actions, we will let them influence our decisions. The game is a tribute to the efforts of law enforcement officers around the globe and does not glorify cowardly committed crimes.

Ready or Not is a videogame that tackles complex subjects. We want to promote authenticity and realness. This requires some responsibility, both to our community and fans. However, it is also a responsibility to those affected by the traumatic events that law enforcement often responds to. We will treat all Ready or Not content with the respect and weight it deserves. Recently, we had to remind some team members about the need for care when discussing this material both now and in the future.

Ready or Not’s story is only part of “School,” but it is also part of the stories of many thousands of people worldwide. It tells the stories of people who died too quickly at the hands of a mad gunman, of their loved ones waiting for the call, and the story about first responders who do all they can, only not to be enough. This is an honest look at a painful reality that has become all-too-common. We hope we can help honor those affected by real-world tragedies and offer a positive portrayal of their experiences.

We will keep following our vision, listen to others, and work hard every day on Ready or Not. We are grateful.

This school shooting level is hypothetical at the moment. If ever it does become a reality, players will presumably intervene in shootings, not commit them. In Six Days in Fallujah, we’ve seen that a developer can best communicate their worldview by designing a game around sensitive real-life scenarios. This will be scrutinized and criticized. Videogames that recreate real-life tragedies will get a lot of attention. Interactive media is an entirely different beast.

Void Interactive assured fans in a follow-up tweet that it is committed to “Ready or Not” as an interactive tactical shooter. The players seem to enjoy it so far: Ready or Not currently has an “overwhelmingly positive” rating across more than 8,300 user reviews on Steam.

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