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Apple Removes Game Critical Of iPhone Production Process From App Store
Apple Removes Game Critical Of iPhone Production Process From App Store
September 13, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

Phone Story, an iOS game designed to highlight workers rights issues in the supply chain and production of Apple's iPhone, has been removed from the App Store due to a violation of Apple's review guidelines.

The game, from Every Day The Same Dream team MolleIndustria, consists of a series of four mini-games "that make the player symbolically complicit in coltan extraction in Congo, outsourced labor in China, e-waste in Pakistan and gadget consumerism in the West," according to the official web site.

But shortly after the game was announced and made available for purchase on the App Store earlier this morning, MolleIndustria tweeted that it had been removed for violating four separate app store review guidelines (as noticed by sister site

The cited guidelines prohibit apps that "depict violence or child abuse," "present objectionable or crude content," "contain false, fraudulent of misleading representations" or fail to "comply with all legal requirements."

Apple's App Store guidelines include many other provisions limiting the type of content that's acceptable in apps, including prohibitions against apps that criticize religion, include excessive erotic or violent content, or that contain "offensive or mean-spirited commentary."

Other content distributed by Apple, including books and movies and TV shows sold on iTunes, are not subject to the same guidelines.

In early 2010, Apple purged roughly 5,000 "sexy" apps from the digital store after a refinement of the App Store guidelines.

MolleIndustria had pledged to donate its 70 percent share of the app's proceeds to various charities, starting with Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior.

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Philip Michael Norris
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Heeyyy...! I was playing that!

Carlos Sousa
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What I don't understand is how does the game make it to the App Store in the first place? Doesn't have to go through a series of approvals?

Bart Stewart
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That was the first thing I wondered as well, Carlos. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple had a followup statement that at least mentions this.

On an unrelated note, an organization named "Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior" would seem to be a charity in the same sense that the National Rifle Association is a charity....

[Edit: I should add that I generally support SACOM's goal of curbing China's exploitative labor practices, as I generally support the NRA's defense of Second Amendment-guaranteed rights. But these are advocacy organizations; calling either a "charity" might be true in some legalistic 501(c)(3)-like sense, but it's a bit of a headscratcher otherwise.]

Christopher Enderle
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Why is other content distributed by Apple, including books and movies and TV shows sold on iTunes, not subject to the same guidelines as games?

Sounds like the sort of policy that would hurt growth potential.

Alexander Jhin
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Because Apple doesn't consider games speech. Actually, most people don't consider games speech. Look at the recent "Slavery - The Game" controversy. Just because it's a game, everyone's like, "You can't make a game about slavery!" When everyone found it's actually a fake ad for a MOVIE about slavery, then everyone's like, "Oh, yawn, how boring. A MOVIE about slavery... whatever"

Thought admittedly, it's partly our fault -- we have created more examples of games that trivialize serious topics than we do games that do justice to serious topics. Of course, the public also won't let us do serious topics (look at Six Days in Fallujah -- a game criticized to death before it was even released.)

Robert Ferris
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Last I checked, the Supreme Court just affirmed games as free speech. You are making the classic mistake of confusing the right to speak with the right to be heard. Apple is a private company. They can ban games on their products because of a typo if they want to. They are in the right (legally, ethically and morally.) So are the games creators for making the game. They just don't have any right to distribution through Apple.

Tore Slinning
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This is a mass media issue at this point, Apple controls a huge platform that uses program repositories as a means of communicating message in the form of tailored interactivity and visualization.

I would not see an problem with it if there were other ways of..."broadcasting" apps on Apples platform( other app repositories or downloading binaries manually).

But this is actually a very peculiar set of circumstances, its like a TV manufacturer decided what NEWS channels to watch.

Since Gutenberg and Marting Luther to News Papers and radio, mass media have had an effect, not all good unfortunately.

The punchline is this: When it comes to mass media, even in the private domain, ownership does not solve the moral and ethical dilemmas.

Robert Ferris
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It seems that the crux of the whole argument is, again, that somehow, you have a right to be heard (you don't.) You made a choice when purchasing the Apple product that you would only have access to what was sold in their store. If you don't like it, no one is forcing you to buy from Apple. There are plenty of other options out there.

"ownership does not solve the moral and ethical dilemmas" As long as the private property laws are ethincal and moral (I've seen no argument to the contrary in this country) then yes it does. You have no moral or ethical right to force people to do something with their property just because you think it isn't fair.

Tore Slinning
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Sorry but, social bug do arise, despite free market rhetoric.

That was all i was going to say. since this is not the venue to discuss this.

Theo Brinkman
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No, you've got the right to speak and the right to be heard. You just don't have the right to force others to listen or provide you with a platform from which to speak and/or be heard.

Martain Chandler
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Where's the Crunchtime app?

Ron Alpert
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Ken Nakai
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Surprise, surprise. Apple controlling its sandbox. I don't know which is funnier: that Apple is blatantly eliminating an app that's critical of itself or that anyone thought they'd be able to get away with it for long. Reminds me of all those gamers that act like douches on someone else's MP server or forums and wonder why they're getting kicked or banned by admins. Not everything in this country is free or democratic...

Enrique Hernandez
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This game has convinced me to buy an iPhone!