Sweatshop HD and Apple are not sitting in a tree

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In yet another confrontation that eerily mirrors the experiences of the influential Game The News, Littleloud’s Sweatshop HD game has been rejected from the Apple Store, because, well, just because.

The game uses the tower defence paradigm to create a game that comments on the injustices of sweatshop-style manufacturing.

So what’s the problem? Well, Apple don’t like the idea of social commentary in their curated Apps and Games. Somewhere along the line they have frozen themselves in time when the politically-neutral (or is it?) Pong was the only possible game that could exist.

we view apps different [sic] than books or songs, which we do not curate … if you want to criticise a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical app.

This rule is bananas of course. Historically (here’s the learning bit),the same attitude was famously applied to books to devastating consequences. The irony of their statement is overwhelming.

One can only assume that PR and legal are afraid of the associations the press may make between a well publicised, challenging game and their products.

What’s strange is the selective nature (that’ll be the curation, then) in which applications are rejected. The endlessly controversial Call of Duty seems (rightly so) allowed in various forms. If you look at their not-curated-but-definitely-not-a-free-for-all iTunes store, there’s The Wire, or even a documentary about sweatshops.

At a time when games are starting to eclipse movies, but are a medium that is being dissected to it’s core by academics and game designers, how Apple can sustain this attitude without wearing a blush is quite beyond us.

It’s implications are, for now, only applied to games. But this policy makes us worry that it could stifle innovation in creating immersive multimedia-enhanced watching experiences. Will your second screen application for a World War 2 documentary series get rejected if it has a topical game built into it?

One day, we will look back at these moments and ask what on earth anyone was thinking.

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