Apple is removing games from its App Store that feature the Confederate flag. The move comes after Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook lent his support for “eradicating racism” and “symbols that feed it.”
The controversial flag became the subject of a massive debate ever since images appeared online showing 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who killed nine people when he opened fire in a historical black church in Charleston, waving the flag.
The incident was followed by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley calling on politicians and leaders to remove the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds, according to abc.net.au.
Several retail brands including Walmart, eBay and Sears, also took the decision to take down articles and items featuring the flag from their shelves and websites.
Amazon pulled off the flag from its website, although the sales recorded a 3,600 percent increase in the previous 24 hours, as reported by Sky News.
In a statement, Apple said it was removing applications that interpreted the flag in “offensive or mean-spirited ways.” However, applications that use the flag for educational purposes were given a green signal.
Nevertheless, Apple’s decision was met with criticism by game developers affected by the move. Game-Labs, developer of “Ultimate General: Gettysburg,” were told by Apple to remove the Confederate flag from the game if the developer wanted it to be reinstated. Game-Labs said on its blog that it will not do it.
Game Labs said, “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. We really hope that Apple’s decision will achieve the desired results… We can’t change history, but we can change the future.”
Andrew Mulholland, who co-founded Hunted Cow Games, developer of “Civil War: 1863,” said the game was removed “without any warning, because used the Confederate flag.” Some of the other games that were taken down include Civil War: 1862 and Civil War: 1864.
“It seems disappointing that they would remove it as they weren’t being used in an offensive way, being that they were historical war games and hence it was the flag used at the time,” Mulholland said.
The developers were working to substitute the stars and bars flag with the one used before late 1862.
“Hopefully they’ll accept the changes, but it will have to go back through the review process again. 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,” Mulholland said.
Journalist Jess Grubb rebuked Apple’s decision to remove such strategy simulation games.
“It isn’t just pulling consumer products like mugs that feature the stars and bars. It is banning creative expression from its App Store, which is one of the largest digital-distribution channels on the planet. This means that if you want to make a game about the Civil War, you cannot accurately portray the symbols of that conflict,” he wrote on GamesBeat.
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