In a prepared statement, developer Tomas Rawlings defends his product, Endgame: Syria, asserting, “Our aim is to use games as a format to bring news to a new audience.” The creator also laments Apple’s submission processes, stating, “I get that Apple wants to make sure really offensive titles don't pass into their store, but ours is far from that.”
Rawlings further goes on to state, “This decision is a shame really as it makes it hard to talk about the real world.” The company’s previous games have included topics such as child labor in Uzbekistan, rhino poaching in Africa, and Freedom of Information laws.
Their latest product, Endgame: Syria, sees players assuming the role of rebels and offers multiple endings based on player choices. It was developed in two weeks and is still available for purchase through the company’s official website and the Android store.
While Apple is yet to make an official statement, the company’s guidelines state that they will not allow products that “solely target a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity.”
While the validity of Apple’s refusal perhaps depends on the content of the game itself, it is interesting that television shows such as Homeland, 24, Family Guy, and South Park are still available for purchase on iTunes.
Video games have recently been mired in controversy relating to violence and censorship following the Newtown massacre. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president for the NRA, targeted the medium, referring to it as a “callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against it’s own people through vicious violent video games.”
A similar stance was furthered by State Senator Leland Yee (D-CA), who chastised LaPierre but had earlier attempted to legally block the sale of violent video games. More recently, a Connecticut town near Newtown initiated a plan to collect and destroy video games and media.
Earlier last year, prior to the violence controversy, video game censorship had previously come up when iconic online game retailer Steam refused to display the pornographic adventure Seduce Me on its store front because of “offensive content.”
Independent developers submit their games to Steam, which then go through a “Green Light” process, where the community votes on whether they wish to see the game, after which it is either displayed or rejected.
In the case of Seduce Me, Steam did not allow the product to go through the Green Light process. The developer then described the experience, claiming, “It was just a very generic e-mail saying we'd violated and the game was being taken down. It struck us as them not wanting to deal with it, not wanting to engage.”
It has now been announced that Vice President Joe Biden will meet with leaders from the video game industry to discuss the link between gun violence and violent video games as part of a larger task force on gun control measures.
So, regardless of one’s stance on the industry, it is an undeniable fact that video games are now a legitimate policy concern. What policies will be applied to them, however, remains to be seen.