Endgame: Syria was meant to be an educational game. Developed by GameTheNews.net, it invited players into the thick of the Syrian civil war, letting them play as rebels looking to remove the government from power. But after getting stuck in the App Store’s submission process for two weeks, the ruling was finally handed down that Endgame: Syria violated Apple’s policy against games that “solely target a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity.”
In an effort to learn more about the situation, we reached out to designer Tomas Rawlings:
Gamezebo: Was Apple clear about what their issue with the game was?
Tomas: They were clear on the guideline that was broken, but it is quite a broad one and so is subject to interpretation.
G: Do you intend to change the game to suit Apple’s requirements? If so, how does that feel?
T: We will do another version of the game to pass, but it is a shame as it means we’ll have to remove references to specific groups, the identification of which, as being part of the ongoing war, is something we aimed for the game to do, so the game will lose some of its informative value as a result. But it will still make the core points.
G: Has this whole debacle given you a newfound appreciation for Android?
T: Google’s approach has always been for a more open platform and this distinguishes it from Apple. There are pros and cons to this as a developer, but overall, Google’s approach makes it much more viable to make the sort of rapid-turnaround games we make at GameTheNews.net.
G: If a book on this same subject matter was released, it seems very doubtful it would undergo the same scrutiny. So, what makes an educational game different from a book?
T: I don’t think games should be judged any differently from other media forms. They have their own intrinsic value as a form and also as part of the mass of human creative content. Any creative project should be judged on its own merit and not over or under-judged (or appreciated) just because of its form. Games are growing up and people need to get used to that!
On the one hand, it’s understandable that a company who receives as many submissions as Apple has trouble being nuanced in their rulings when it comes to this kind of thing. But on the other hand, it doesn’t seem as though Endgame: Syria
is trying to sway its players in any given direction or operate with any sort of bias. As Rawlings noted in an editorial on GamesIndustry.biz
, the point of the game was to “[encourage] some people who didn’t know much about the situation in Syria, to find out more.” Innocuous enough, right?
There’s a bit of a happy ending to this story, though: Android owners can download the game here
, and a web-based version can be found at GametheNews.net