Eradicating a Nazi symbol will not eradicate the Neo-Nazis themselves. Neither will it change what happened during the WWII. Period. Why Tim Cook has decided pulling the Confederate Flag-containing games from the iTunes would eradicate racism and hate in America is a question that opens the box of Pandora that can potentially divide a nation, and if you follow some of the online debates over it you can see it already has.
Orwell predicted these events in his 1984, when erasing something from the newspapers, or changing somebody’s biography allowed the leaders shape the public opinion today, and tomorrow. Bradbury predicted it in Fahrenheit 451 where the dominating force shaped the history by burning and banning the books.
Apple, Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Sears, Etsy and other national retailers are frantically pulling the Confederate flags from the sales. Already, some critic from NY is suggesting the Americans should burn and ban the all-time classic “Gone with the Wind.” Uh-oh.
A decent number of historical sim and educational games has been pulled from the iTunes in response to the wave of pain and hatred that swept the country in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting in Emanuel African Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Dylann Roof’s photos with the Confederate Flag served as a reason to ignite a massive campaign to erase the symbol from… well, everywhere. The manufacturers ask if it’s ok to keep manufacturing the flag, the historians wonder if the flag is banned, how do the kids learn the history all the while the activists climb the buildings and strip it off some of the buildings in the Southern states.
Tim Cook said on Twitter last week:
“My thoughts are with the victims’ families in SC. Let us honor their lives by eradicating racism & removing the symbols & words that feed it.”
Even though the mainstream media seems to be supportive of the act, the online community, especially the strata of it that is directly involved in the gaming industry, developers and gamers alike, seem to have a different opinion. Heavy-handed is the most tolerant of the adjectives used to describe Apple’s debacle. Immature, aggressive, ignorant are some of the other more or less mildly opinionated evaluations while the majority seem to object to Apple’s attempt at rewriting the history by eradicating one of the actual symbols of one of the most important pages of it. Others, on the contrary bash the opposition for racism.
Notably, this is not the first time Cupertino is attempting at something like that. Last year, iTunes took down Haunted Cow’s WWII historical sim game Tank Battle: East Front 1942 because it depicted Germans and Russians as “enemies” – all in the middle of the Crimean crisis in Europe in 2014. As if Russians and Germans were not enemies during the WWII, Apple tried to incriminate a historically accurate game for depicting history… accurately, which Apple deems as offensive or mean-spirited.
This time, a lot more games have been pulled with Apple sending the developers a brief notice: “We are writing to notify you that your app has been removed from the App Store because it includes images of the Confederate Flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways.”
Which, in relation to the majority of the games taken down, is simply false. Most, if not all, of the games pulled from the app store are historical sim or strategy games based on the actual events of the American Civil War.
Four of HexWar Games‘ set in the times of the American Civil War have been pulled from the iTunes, but the total number for this developer alone is much bigger considering all the Gold and lite version of them. Not only was the developer disappointed, but also frantically seeking for a way to restore the games, including changing the flag to that of the Confederacy from 1861 and 1862. The one that is currently dubbed as offensive was not used until late 1862.
“We’re in no way sympathetic to the use of the flag in an offensive way, we used it purely because historically that was the flag that was used at the time,” said Mulholland of HexWar Games.
Game-Labs’ Ultimate General: Gettysburg [$3.99, iPad] is one of such games that has been taken down due to the presence of the Confederate Flag. This developer has adopted a somewhat different stance on the subject. Check this out:
“Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” did not try to amend his movie to look more comfortable. The historical “Gettysburg” movie (1993) is still on iTunes. We believe that all historical art forms: books, movies, or games such as ours, help to learn and understand history, depicting events as they were. True stories are more important to us than money.
Therefore we are not going to amend the game’s content and Ultimate General: Gettysburg will no longer be available on App Store. We really hope that Apple’s decision will achieve the desired results.
We can’t change history, but we can change the future.”
Game-Labs also debunks Cupertino’s poor judgment that the flag was used in offensive way in the game:
“We wanted our game to be the most accurate, historical, playable reference of the Battle of Gettysburg. All historical commanders, unit composition and weaponry, key geographical locations to the smallest streams or farms are recreated in our game’s battlefield.
We receive a lot of letters of gratitude from American teachers who use our game in history curriculum to let kids experience one of the most important battles in American history from the Commander’s perspective.”
You could have heard of other cases questioning Apple’s admission policies, with CryptoCat being one of the best examples of how the big-buck company tries to silence an uncomfortable reality. If anything, Apple made game developers look better than ever before, and hopefully the extra attention would drive their sales.
After the unfavorable feedback from the gaming industry, Apple has decided to change the wrath to mercy reinstating the pulled games, and many of them have already appeared on the iTunes. It appears that sweeping the imagery of the Confederate Flag from the apps’ icons and screenshots is enough, and eradicating the Flag from the gameplay itself is not necessary. Otherwise, too many questions regarding censorship and remolding history arise, and Cupertino would have to answer. Not all generations have grown illiterate and oblivious, yet. Until then, Apple is not entitled to alter history. No business should be.