Apple rejects satire app Joyful Executions

In an expected move from the iOS gatekeepers, iPhone users won't get a chance to play the game which puts a satirical twist on North Korean propaganda due to its "excessively objectionable content."

8-bit Underpants

Apple's hard line on political satire apps -- especially when they deal in even the most cartoony violence -- has brought down another hopeful called Joyful Executions, a parody game in which users execute North Korean dissidents by firing squad to appease The Divine Leader.

The app's creator, Norwegian studio 8-bit Underpants, approached the subject with seemingly good intentions, as is the case with most violent yet satirical games, like the removed iOS title Sweatshop and the rejected app Endgame: Syria. The developer expresses on the game's Web site that Joyful Executions is meant to highlight how gamers ignore controversial subjects that are presented through the lens of gamification and to shed light on North Korean propaganda efforts directed specifically at children.

Still, that wasn't enough to satisfy Apple, who rejected the game after a month of apparent deliberation due to paragraph 16.1 of the App Store guidelines that bars apps that present "excessively objectionable or crude content," the game's sole developer Frank Nordstrom told PocketGamer. Clause 15.3 -- which bars apps that solely target a specific race, country, government, or corporation -- may also have come into play with Apple's rejection.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

The game was submitted to both the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store on July 15, and 8-bit Underpants only received notification of its iOS rejection Tuesday.

As for the actual mechanics behind Joyful Executions, users play as Kim Bok Kyong, the head of a four-man firing squad in charge of dispatching enemies with a variety of methods while under the clock. It's not a visually realistic game by any means, but the gore when mixed with its context make for an undoubtedly touchy subject.

The game is still available on the Google Play Store, while a toned down update to the rejected iOS version called Little Girl's Training Edition will be making its way to Apple's App Store later this month. This Apple-friendly edition will remove blood and replace the enemies with dolls. So much for the power of satire.

About the author

Nick Statt is a staff writer for CNET. He previously wrote for ReadWrite and was a news associate at the social magazine app Flipboard. He spends a questionable amount of his free time contemplating his relationship with video games while continuously exploring the convergence of tech, science and pop culture.

 

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