A new video game called Endgame:Syria has been rejected by Apple for inclusion into the App Store because it violates its guidelines strictly forbidding content that "solely target[s] a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity." The game's developer, Auroch Digital, defends the app, saying that it's not so much a game as a novel way to inform the public about the nature of the conflict, a struggle that has claimed the lives of over 60,000 people since March of 2011.
Given the seriousness and scale of the civil war, Apple has good reason to be sensitive to anything that could be construed as inflammatory or even callous in regards to real events. Moreover, given that users are encouraged to take part in the simulation and adjust the variables of the conflict, it could even be interpreted as a glorification of the war.
But Auroch Digital designer Tomas Rawlings disagrees, saying that it's an important tool meant to educate and entertain. Speaking through a release, Rawlings stated that: "Our aim is to use games as a format to bring news to a new audience and submission processes such as this do make it a lot harder for us. I get that Apple want to make sure really offensive titles don't pass into their store, but ours is far from that. In fact the response to the game has been broadly positive with much of the mainstream media picking up on the story."
Endgame:Syria is a free interactive game that's available on Android and playable on iOS devices (as its also a HTML5 game). GameTheNews describes it this way:
Developed in around two weeks, the game allows users to explore the options open to the Syrian rebels as they push the conflict to its endgame. Each choice the user makes has consequences – the types of military units you may deploy, the political paths you choose to tread. Not only does each choice impact the current situation but your choices may also impact the final outcome. Users can play and replay events to see how different choices on the ground might lead to different outcomes.
Will you choose to accept peace at any cost? What if the war goes badly and the only options left mean more extreme actions; would you agree to follow this path? Can you win the war and the peace that follows? Find out in Endgame Syria.
Auroch Digital claims to be "the world's first news correspondents who cover global events as games," what is a twist on events in a playable form. Previous titles from the company include a game that exposes the cruelty of child labor in Uzbekistan.
"This decision is a shame really as it makes it hard to talk about the real world," says Rawlings. "We had hoped that Apple would be more nuanced in how they applied this rule but we got a bit worried when it had been in submission for around two weeks without a decision — we then figured that because of the controversy of using the gaming medium to cover an ongoing war meant passing the game had become an issue for them."
Moving forward, Auroch Digital plans to alter the game to make it conform to Apple's guidelines, which will likely make it more ambiguous and open to interpretation.
More about the game and how it was developed here.