The wildly popular iPhone app Pocket God, a game that encourages humorous torture of cartoon islanders has come under attack by Elaine Howard from the international Pacific Women's Information Network who has forwarded a complaint on to developers Bolt Creative stating the game is an "arrogant slap in the face to our people". What she means by 'our people' is specifically Pacific islanders. But US creators Bolt Creative argue the game does not depict any particular nationality.
"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?" wrote Howard, who lives in the US.
In Pocket God, the user takes on the role of an "all-powerful god ruling over a miniature tribe of primitive islanders". This $.99-cent juggernaut which has sold over 850 units since it's launch on January 9, 2009 has been heralded by the iPhone Savior as "One of those fantastical ideas that opens up a world of new possibilities for iPhone users." Daily downloads of 7,000 to 8,000 units from the iTunes App Store after almost four months has proved our earliest assessment to be true.
I've always thought of the island characters as cavemen rather than Polynesians. Pocket God has helped me renew that feeling of childlike wonder again. I find nothing disgusting about that. Taking offense to Pocket God is little more than a knee-jerk reaction at best, needing to be tempered by a healthy sense of humor.
Pacific academic Dr Malakai Koloamatangi, from New Zealand's Canterbury University, wasted no time abandoning his own sense of humor before stating that he found Pocket God "totally degrading".
"To claim they are not Pacific islanders is ridiculous. Everything about them is Polynesian," Koloamatangi said. "How can they justify encouraging the torture of a race in this way? It's disgusting."
He said the game only strengthened the stereotypes from which Pacific people around the world were trying to break free.
The Pacific Women's Information Network has complained directly to both Apple and Bolt Creative, with a reply from the developers at Bolt apologizing for any offense taken, "but we insist that such offense is misplaced".
"Bolt Creative does not intend and has never intended to offend or marginalize any nationality, race or culture in any of its video games, including Pocket God."
I've had the pleasure of speaking to Dave Castelnuovo from Bolt Creative on several occasions. In our most recent conversation Castelnuovo referred to Pocket God as having "a prehistoric theme" like he's said in past interviews. Almost anything these days can be seen as offensive to someone when viewed through a microscope. In my opinion, being offended has practically become fashionable.
Get over yourself people! Pocket God is a game that's beloved by almost a million cult of iPhone fanatics for a reason. Because it's brilliant not racist!
It's truly unfortunate that a few cranky individuals have found a way to suck the joy out of the room by labeling this game disgusting and degrading. That kind of overreaction is a travesty of a mockery of two shams no matter what race you are.