Ap­ple pulls some Civil War games

Los Angeles Times - - COMPANY TOWN - By Dana Beth Solomon daina.solomon@latimes.com

Civil War his­to­ri­ans were f lum­moxed by Ap­ple’s re­moval of Civil War games from its App Store that in­cluded im­ages of the Con­fed­er­ate f lag. The con­tro­ver­sial sym­bol is key to de­pict­ing history, they said.

“It seems to me that pulling Civil War games might be an ex­treme re­sponse to the f lag con­tro­versy, as if the Civil War didn’t ex­ist,” said Bob Brinkmeyer, a pro­fes­sor of South­ern stud­ies at the Univer­sity of South Carolina. “As these games re­mind us, the South lost.”

Ap­ple’s de­ci­sion on Thurs­day came soon af­ter ma­jor re­tail­ers and e- com­merce sites, from Wal- Mart to Ama­zon to EBay, banned sales of Con­fed­er­ate f lags and prod­ucts with Con­fed­er­ate im­ages on them.

The com­mer­cial ac­tions came in re­sponse to the shoot­ing of nine African Amer­i­cans at a his­toric black church in Charleston, S. C. The young man ar­rested for the crime had an ap­par­ent fond­ness for the Con­fed­er­ate f lag and the f lags of Apartheid- era South Africa and Rhode­sia, judg­ing by pho­to­graphs of him f launt­ing those sym­bols.

The his­to­ri­ans had no beef with the prod­uct re­calls but took is­sue with re­mov­ing the f lag in his­toric rep­re­sen­ta­tions, even games played on smart­phones.

Joan Waugh, a history pro­fes­sor at UCLA, noted that the Con­fed­er­ate f lag is an es­sen­tial sym­bol in Civil War history.

“I can­not sup­port the ill­con­sid­ered ac­tion by Ap­ple or any other com­pany to re­move the f lag from a Civil War game,” she said.

Carolyn Marvin, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, said she wasn’t sur­prised to see Ap­ple re­spond­ing to a Zeit­geist mo­ment sur­round­ing con­tempt for the f lag. She made a dis­tinc­tion be­tween schol­arly records and games which are “rep­re­sen­ta­tions of pop­u­lar history.”

Still, it’s hard to imag­ine a Civil War game that blocks out the Con­fed­er­ate f lag.

Why did Ap­ple do that? The com­pany won’t say. Ac- cord­ing to one game devel­oper, Ap­ple sent him a note cit­ing guide­lines pro­hibit­ing “mean- spir­ited” ref­er­ences while in­form­ing him that it would re­move his games.

“It seems dis­ap­point­ing that they would re­move it as they weren’t be­ing used in an of­fen­sive way,” said An­drew Mul­hol­land of Hex War Games, adding that he would re­move the f lags in an at­tempt to get his games back in the Ap­ple store.

An Ap­ple spokesper­son told Mash­able Thurs­day that sev­eral apps us­ing the Con­fed­er­ate f lag had been re­moved. “We have re­moved apps from the App Store that use the Con­fed­er­ate f lag in of­fen­sive or mean­spir­ited ways, which is in vi­o­la­tion of our guide­lines,” the spokesper­son said. “We are not re­mov­ing apps that dis­play the Con­fed­er­ate f lag for ed­u­ca­tional or his­tor­i­cal uses.”

The spokesper­son said the com­pany is work­ing with some game de­vel­op­ers whose apps had been re­moved to try to get the games back in the App Store.

The Times won­dered how Ap­ple de­fines “of­fen­sive or mean- spir­ited” in a game that takes place in an en­vi­ron­ment that is in­trin­si­cally of­fen­sive and mean spir­ited, and whether Ap­ple might take the same ac­tion against World War II games that carry Nazi im­agery. Calls were not re­turned.

One of the cre­ators of “Ul­ti­mate Gen­eral: Get­tys- burg,” Maxim Zasov, said he did not plan to al­ter his dde­pic­tion of one of the Civil War’s most im­por­tant bat­tles. The game is still avail­able for down­load on PC.

“We wanted our game to be the most ac­cu­rate, his­tor­i­cal, playable ref­er­ence of the Bat­tle of Get­tys­burg,” Zasov wrote on his web­site. “All his­tor­i­cal com­man­ders, unit com­po­si­tion and weaponry, key ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tions to the small­est streams or farms are recre­ated in our game’s bat­tle­field.”

In a tweet on Sun­day, Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook called for re­mov­ing the “sym­bols and words” that feed racism.

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