Facebook Pulls VR Shooter Demo From CPAC After Backlash 

Facebook announced the removal of the Bullet Train demo from its virtual reality experience booth at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) after public outcry in light of the recent mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida.

Developed by Epic Games to help show off the Oculus headset's VR capabilities back in 2015, Bullet Train has the player rampage through a futuristic train station shooting armoured guards and a giant automated drone boss. It's part of an anthology of short VR experiences Facebook uses to demo the hardware at various events, including at CPAC this week.

The social media company recently decided to remove Bullet Train from the setup after public outcry over the optics and timing, spurred on by videos and screenshots circulated by Now This News and others.

"There is a standard set of experiences included in the Oculus demos we feature at public events," Vice President of Virtual Reality, Hugo Barra, said in a statement emailed to USA Today about the company's decision to remove the game. "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."

On Twitter, Barra added:

"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."

Facebook also came under fire this week for its platform's part in helping to promote and circulate made-up conspiracy theories about victims of the Parkland school shooting. Videos calling surviving students who went on to speak out against gun violence and the country's failure to address the recent epidemic of mass shootings "crisis actors" were able to find a large audience due in part to how algorithms distribute information on social media without much apparent concern for its veracity.

Facebook then showing off a VR demo where the player shoots up a train station at a political conference where the NRA features prominently, and where its president, Wayne LaPierre, told attendees during a speech that the pro-gun lobbying organisation bore no responsibility for mass shootings didn't sit right with many.

At the same time, there are lots of video games that are much more violent than Bullet Train, and come without the layer of removal provided by a hackneyed looking futuristic backdrop setting. And after the President and other prominent politicians have tried to shift blame for shootings away from loose gun laws to things like violent games, music, and movies, it's hard not to see Facebook's most recent mea culpa as anything other than yet another diversion.

Perhaps instead of pulling VR demos from a marketing booth at a political conference, the company could do a better job of taking down smear campaigns going viral on its website about the victims of school shootings.


Comments

    it's hard not to see Facebook's most recent mea culpa as anything other than yet another diversion.

    Well said, Ethan.
    The state of American politics right now is diversionary to the point of ridiculousness, a true post truth era. (With even that turned in to a political bait and switch)
    The latest tragedy in Floridia is already part of the agenda machine as everything is muddied up and watered down.
    It should've concerned people long ago how easily and quickly this kind of thing is absorbed and processed in to the machine.

    That country is a fracking mess.

    Videos calling surviving students who went on to speak out against gun violence and the country's failure to address the recent epidemic of mass shootings "crisis actors" were able to find a large audience due in part to how algorithms distribute information on social media without much apparent concern for its veracity.Facebook then showing off a VR demo where the player shoots up a train station at a political conference where the NRA features prominently, and where its president, Wayne LaPierre, told attendees during a speech that the pro-gun lobbying organisation bore no responsibility for mass shootings didn't sit right with many.Ok I'm hardly an expert on English, but these two sentences feel horrendously written.

    Also they should have used Robo Recall instead, no one would worry about beating up a bunch of bots.

    It seems like a weird thing for them to demo VR games at a political event.

      Should check out the GOP/Democrat conventions, that shit is Cuckoo banana crazy pants kinda stuff.

      Like a bizarre partisan comicon for nutbags.

        It just demonstrates how money can get you a seat at the table regardless of any pre-existing context. Democracy is just a Capitalist byproduct of industrialism. Politicians are middle management there to support their financial betters.

    I really like living in Australia! That’s what I got out of this article!

      How great is it that you can send kids to school and not have to worry about them being slaughtered by some lunatic.

      I mean we dont have guns, But at least our children are alive!

        There's guns, we just aren't......insane?

        Keep an eye on our politics though, there are some new pollies popping up spouting US style rhetoric, including gun related nonsense.
        A lot of folks over the ditch throwing money our way to get us all arguing about the left vs right and it's hard to ignore that Australian politics are being reshuffled based on some concerning foreign interests.

          I don't see a problem allowing people to own guns, but with sensible controls over them. Pretty much like we've done here.

          As for the game being pulled. How about they pull CoD, MoH, CS, PUBG and all the thousands of other shooters then? I mean seriously, if it was a game where the objective was to shoot up a school then it deserves to be removed. But in it's current state? It's no worse than any other shooter game.

          Yeah the vocal gun nuts might be somewhat loud over here. but they are mistaken in thinking people support them. Most Australians just dont support relaxing our guns laws to similar that of the USA.

        We dont talk about the real reason we have no school shootings.

        Its because John Howard banned games and movies and since nobody has games and movies any more theres no school shootings.

        Am I doing this right?

    Only 17% of bullets shot in the US hit their intended target. Not even good enough stats to support their usefulness as a defensive measure.
    It’s not like Americans are John Wick about their shoot-outs. It’s mostly chaos with tragic consequences.

      Not to disagree with the fact that the US gun culture is insane (because it is, and I say that as someone who thinks sports target shooting should remain legal), but what exactly are these (uncited) stats about? 17% of all bullets shot don't hit their intended target? Shot by whom? Shot at what? For what purpose? Under what circumstance? If you're going to quote random statistics at least provide context.

        Thought it was implied strongly enough to not go into deets, but civilian owned guns. The ones not for hunting. The ones we don’t have here.
        Under the circumstances we don’t have here because of no guns.

          We have pistols. They aren’t used for hunting.

          The statistic is still meaningless. What were they shooting at? Just at targets or at people with the aim to kill?

    Did they pull fully automatic rifles from vending machines in America as well? No? Well then problem solved.

    Would you just like me to link an article? You can have police/civilian shootings, just police, or just civilian or the Wiki page on US gun violence that combines all three.

    They have a license for publicly demoing Bullet Train. They don't have one for Robo Recall. Simple as that. There's no grand "facebook promoting gun ownership" conspiracy going on here like I've seen some people saying.
    I saw a lot of gamedevs complaining about this over the weekend and honestly it was a bit funny and sad to see people like them who had just defended games from Trump, only to horseshoe around and now say that violence/guns in games are bad?
    public outcry over the optics and timing
    Also, teeny-tiny side complaint, but what on earth is with using the word "optics" to describe how a situation looks? I've started to see it pop up more and more. Sounds like someone trying to take something highly subjective and open to personal/cultural interpretation and imply it's a hard science with only one interpretation (theirs) not up to debate, all the while sounding nothing but cringey AF.

      I have to agree, it's getting really hard to take people seriously when they start talking about "optics"

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