Friday, November 12, 2010

Reblog: Fear of an App Planet

This is a brief look at the ideas of censorship that are implied by the move to app stores in obtaining cultural content. Interestingly, in a similar move of random censorship to that which Juul describes below, Amazon today removed an e-book on pedophilia from sale due to public pressure while many others on the same topic remained available on the shopping giant.

From The Ludologist by Jesper Juul:
With Apple announcing an App store for the Mac following the App Store for iPhones and iPads, it’s worth pondering what this means for video games.
  1. It’s a great way to allow the distribution of games of different scope, so why is this the first major commercial internet-based software store for a major operating system? Seems so obvious. (Though Linux users have long had similar systems, though only for non-commercial software.)
  2. The Mac App store will have similarly strict and semi-random policies as the iOS app store. As I have argued before, I think the app store policies are ambiguous and inconsistently enforced by design: this has the desired chilling effects of self-censorship among developers, while Apple can claim that it intended no such thing.
  3. It has historically been the case that console games were heavily controlled and censored, while PC and Mac games allowed for freedom of expression. Assuming that more software sales move from boxed and regular web to the Mac App Store, we are going to see the Mac becoming less of a platform for edgy and experimental content. You can still get your software elsewhere, but convenience matters.
  4. And again: there would be an uproar if a major bookstore censored books according to Apple guidelines, so why do we accept censorship for games?
  5. Which means that the potential future in which all games on all platforms are distributed through app store-like channels … that is a potential nightmare."

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