Apple Pulls Confederate Flag in Games
If you’ve been watching the news lately, then you’ll know of a huge debate in the US regarding the role of the Confederate flag in America. Many see the flag as a reminder of the pre-civil war and others see it as a way to honor the soldiers who died for the Confederacy.
Large US companies like eBay, Walmart and Amazon already have banned the sale on Confederate flag merchandize and now Apple has decided to join in by pulling apps or games the bares the confederate flag.
Why is the Confederate flag banned?
On the evening of June 17, 2015 a mass shooting occurred in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine people were shot and killed at that time.
The suspect was arrested morning after the attack and the US Department of Justice is investigating that the shooting was the cause of a hate crime or domestic terrorism.
A day after the shooting, many flags including those in the South Carolina State House were flown half-staff. However, the South Carolina Confederate movement near the state house was not, because the South Carolina Law prohibits the alteration of the flag without the consent of two thirds of the state legislature. The flagpole doesn’t have a pulley system; therefore it cannot be flown half-staff, only removed.
Calls to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse ground have been debated by several prominent figures like Barack Obama, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. An online petition at MoveOn.org encourages the removal of the flag and has received over 370,000 signatures.
On June 22, 2015. Governor Nikke Haley, including the senators Lindsay Graham, Tim Scott and former Republican Governor Mark Stanford called for the flag to be removed by the state legislature.
The Confederate flag, which was once a symbol of southern pride has now become the symbol of rebellion and racism.
Apple and the Confederate Flag
Apple has now joined a host of merchants from banning the Confederate Flag. Apple’s move to ban apps and games that bear the flag follows a similar decision by a number of major retailers. One of the apps that was affected by the ban was Civil War 1863 that features the image of the flag as a part of the game’s historical context.
Most of the games that were banned are with the ones that bear the Confederate flag, but the problem is that these games shouldn’t be removed as it bears historical or educational use. Such should bear with the terms and conditions of the removal of the app as Apple commended:
“We have removed apps from the App Store that use the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways, which is in violation of our guidelines. We are not removing apps that display the Confederate flag for educational or historical uses.”
Apple’s intention is not to remove the games from the App Store, but rather remove those titles that could offend.
The currently affected titles are Ultimate General: Gettysburg, Civil War games, and an app that distributes wallpaper with a confederate flag.
Many developers defended their apps stating that these aren’t meant to be offensive, but rather an imagery of its historical context. TouchArcade, the developer behind Civil War, for example, have used the game to teach the Civil War in the classroom.
Many developers were disappointed with Apple’s move, stating that they were not used in an offensive manner, rather they were historical war games and the Confederate flag was used at that time.
It is unclear on what criteria Apple is using to determine how it pulls the app from the Confederate flag imagery. Apps from HexWar were the ones that were gravely affected. The company offers several Civil War-themed games including Civil War 1862, Civil War 1864, Civil War: Gettysburg and the oldest game, Civil War 1863 which has been live at the Apple Store since September 2012.
HexWar says that they will try resubmitting the titles with the lesser-known version of the flag to see if the games will be approved.
Other Apps Still Online
The banning doesn’t seem to be universal as there are some apps which bear the Confederate flag that is still online. The History Channel’s Civil War Today, The Battle of Antietam and Apple continues to sell other media that bears the flag including the seven seasons of Dukes of Hazzard, Legend by Lynyrd Skynryd, and Primal Scream’s Give Out But Don’t Give Up.
In light of the removal of the Ultimate General: Gettysburg from the App Store, Steam decided to promote the PC version on the main page of the store that were flooded with positive reviews since.
Apple Get the Games Reinstated
In the wake of the mass banning of games from the iTunes App Store, Apple is now working with some developers to get their games reinstated. Touch Arcade says that Apple has been in touch with the developers to work on getting their games reinstated, but those games would have to either remove or replace the Confederate flag to get back to the store.
However, other reports state that Apple representatives suggest the company is looking to reinstate the game and apps that are have been considered to be using the flag for “historical” and “educational” uses. Apple’s intention in the first place was not to lose games from the App Store, but rather remove titles that could offend.
Ultimate General: Gettysburg has been reinstated at the app store, but with a few caveats. The developers accepted Apple’s decision and it wouldn’t alter the game’s content as it valued historical accuracy. Therefore, in this game the flag stays the way it was and the developers didn’t change its appearance just to get reinstated.
Apple isn’t clear with its statements regarding the ban as some games that feature a historical content or value on the flag shouldn’t get banned in the first place. The question is where does Apple draw the line with regards to the removal of the Confederate flag? Or any offensive flag from its storefront?