In this article from the good folks at Polygon, the obstacles that currently face serious games seeking entry to the Apple platform is examined with a focus on ‘game the news’ games such as Endgame: Syria. What becomes clear in this article is how inconsistent Apple are in their guidelines when dealing with a new genre of serious game such as this and how symbolic this inconsistency is of a much wider issue across the Internet. When restricting certain politicised content the Apple reasoning is as follows:
“We’re really trying our best to create the best platform in the world for you to express your talents and make a living too. If it sounds like we’re control freaks, well, maybe it’s because we’re so committed to our users and making sure they have a quality experience with our products. Just like almost all of you are, too.”
However as the article makes clear through statements from Apple and game developers struggling to release their work on the Apple platform, there is a bias towards new media such as games. As the developer of the game Phone Stor explains:
“They are saying books and music — we will never censor those because they’re culture. But the app is something different. The app is more akin to a screwdriver or a spoon or a chainsaw. It’s not something that’s supposed to produce meaning. And that, to me, is the main problem of what they’re trying to do. That is something that needs to be challenged and discussed.”
The question of if games are culture almost sounds ludicrous to an ethnographer that specialises in gaming cultures however in a very effectual way, Apple seem to have gravely misread or misunderstood the nature of what they are dealing with here. However in their staunch position they demonstrate the total reliance developers of unique content now face in when dealing with powerful platforms such as Apple. In a very similar way to publisher’s from traditional media, the likes of Apple demonstrate exactly how backwards platformed distribution is taking us here. Bogost echoes the sentiment of developers across the Internet when he says,
“The problem is we’re now living in an era in which there are fewer and fewer ways to create and disseminate ideas, and more and more of them are under the direct control of a small number of large companies.””
Beyond just the explicit creation of original market orientated content, this is a fear that is rightfully being expressed across the Internet as nearly all online expression is becoming platformed, monitored, quantified and monetised. The ethics of this relationship is often dangerously forgotten however with the games developers mentioned here; it becomes clear how the views of a powerful platform can stifle creativity and even endanger freedom of speech. The issues serious games face when dealing with powerful plaforms is symbolic of how serious a plethora of issues are becomming as everything becoems platformed. The issues serious games face when dealing with powerful platforms is symbolic of how serious a much wider set of actions are becoming as platforms increasingly mark out their territory and with that; their own rules.