Developer Matthew Smyth is upset that Apple rejected his seal clubbing game for the iPhone. PETA, on the other hand, is so overjoyed they sent Steve Jobs chocolates.
iSealClub is a game based on Canada's annual commercial seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and around Newfoundland, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Taking place during the fishing off-season, the annual event sees thousands of fishermen hunting for mainly harp seals, selling the skins and seal oil for profit.
Smyth's take on the hunt features an accelerometer-controlled hand, with clubbing handled by sharply tilting the iPhone.
Some would say this is in very bad taste. Apple certainly agrees.
After a query to Apple three months previous resulted in a response indicating that the company could not pre-approve applications, Smyth went ahead with the game. Three days ago, after submitting the App for review, he received the following notice:
Thank you for submitting iSealClub to the App Store. We've reviewed iSealClub and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains objectionable content and is in violation of Section 3.3.17 from the iPhone Developer Program licence Agreement which states:
"Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple's reasonable judgment may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory."
I'm not sure how I feel about the game myself. I mean, it doesn't feature blood or gore, doesn't allow you to kill baby seals (they run away, and you lose points for trying), and, as Smyth points out, there are plenty of other games on the App Store that feature hunting animals for sport. Hell, there are games about hunting humans for sport. After listing off several more objectionable titles, including Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Smyth reaches his conclusion.
Given the "objectionableness" of the game's content compared to the above games, I can't help but think that Apple has taken a less then neutral position on the topic of the Seal Hunt. If Apple is truly against the seal hunt, I respect that. I wouldn't kill an animal (non-virtual of course) myself. But… I don't respect Apple for restricting content based these views(when the other side is still socially acceptable). I can understand not allowing games with the cold blooded murder of police officers….. oh wait…. They do.. never mind.
I'd say this is a particularly tough subject for Apple to handle. On one hand, freedom, creativity, etc, but on the other hand, you don't want to be the company associated with clubbing cute little seals to death.
Besides, if you reject an App like this one, PETA sends you candy. Candy is delicious.