Apple's iTunes App Store has rejected a new iOS game based on the ongoing civil war in Syria.
Titled "Endgame Syria," the game invites users to "explore the options open to the rebels as they push the conflict to its endgame," according to a press release published in December by the app's developer, Auroch Digital.
io9 reports that the game was blocked by Apple because it violates the App Store's guidelines, which prohibit content that "solely target[s] a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity."
The Syrian conflict, according to a recent United Nations report, has claimed more than 60,000 lives in 21 months. It may seem insensitive that such bloodshed could inspire a game, but designer Tomas Rawlings has offered a defense of his app.
“If the word ‘game’ is troubling then we’re happy for this to be called a ‘simulation’ or an ‘interactive experience,'" Rawlings was quoted in Auroch Digital's release. "For us, the point is that we’re using this medium as a means to express and explore the uncertainties of this situation. A game allows you to re-explore the same territory and see how different choices play out and understand that those choices have far-reaching consequences.”
Auroch Digital's GameTheNews team developed "Endgame Syria" in about two weeks, as the project's participants followed the Syrian conflict and adapted the game to developments in the news.
Instead of featuring an individual soldier shooting his enemies, the game's interface is set up more like a card game. Users must make tactical decisions to advance the rebels' cause.
Although GameTheNews will make changes to the game in order to re-submit it to the App Store for approval, Rawlings told Wired that the team must "strip some of the meaning and context" from the game, in order to meet Apple's requirements.
This isn't Rawlings's first video game based on a news event. During the U.S. presidential election, he created an Obama versus Romney debate game called "Moral Kombat." In December his firm released a game based on the Uzbek practice of using child-labor to harvest cotton.
"Endgame Syria" is available for free on Android and as an HTML5 game.
[Hat tip, HuffPost U.K.]