Pocket God: a Polynesian torture simulator?
What did the Pacific islanders ever do to you?
Controversy is never far from the world of gaming, partly because a significant proportion of mainstream society considers the practice to be somewhere between vandalism and water-boarding on the spectrum of acceptability, and partly because game makers are prone to misjudgement.
The latest to join the line-up of suspect video games is the iPhone title Pocket God, in which you wield control over the conditions in which an islander lives, as well as controlling the islander himself. Usually, this means bringing a shark into existence, and then feeding him to it.
According to the Brisbane Times, the International Pacific Women's Information Network regards the game to be racist in its treatment of characters that are manifestly Polynesian.
Group spokesperson Elaine Howard said, “How do you think people would react if you created a game where you were God and you could create and kill as many Mexicans as you wanted? Or Asians? People would be outraged.”
Academic at New Zealand’s Canterbury University Dr Malakai Koloamatangi chimed in. "To claim they are not Pacific islanders is ridiculous. Everything about them is Polynesian. How can they justify encouraging the torture of a race in this way? It's disgusting."
A complaint has been lodged with Apple.
Bolt Creative, no doubt bemused at the accusations of racism and incitement to torture, responded with an apology and an unequivocal assurance. "The fictional characters in Pocket God do not directly or indirectly represent any human nationality, race or cultural people.
"Bolt Creative does not intend and has never intended to offend or marginalise any nationality, race or culture in any of its video games, including Pocket God."
What do you think? Is Pocket God racist?Game Politics