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Apple bans app that lets you shoot at hunters

Cecil's Revenge lets you act as jungle animals to shoot at poachers. Apple nixed the app for policy violations, according to its developers.

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Should Apple have banned an app that lets animals shoot at hunters?

Google

Apple has put the kibosh on a hunting app that lets you aim at hunters instead of their jungle prey.

The game, called Cecil's Revenge, was inspired by the real-life incident in July in which a lion known as Cecil was lured from a park sanctuary in Zimbabwe and illegally killed by hunters. The game turns the tables by displaying cartoon characters of jungle animals that shoot at cartoon characters of hunters in a style that works like the classic game Asteroid.

On the Cecil's Revenge website, the game's creators, David Kotkin and Glenn Cutler, said the app was rejected by Apple for the App Store because it violates its guidelines strictly forbidding "enemies within the context of a game cannot solely target[s] a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity." Further, the game's creators claim Apple said that "specifically, your app targets poachers. We encourage you to review your app concept and revise it to avoid targeting any groups or individuals."

Apple says it banned the game not because of its premise but because the app relates to a real and current event. An app such as Cecil's Revenge, which involves shooting, can't be related to an actual current event, according to an Apple spokesperson.

Despite Apple's guidelines, the company has a history of inconsistency in determining which apps to approve and which ones to deny. In this case, Apple faulted the game for targeting "a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity." But the App Store offers lots of shoot-em-up games in which you target certain people. Wolfenstein 3D lets you shoot at Nazis. Sniper 3D Assassin allows you to shoot at "the bad guys." Other games such as Call of Duty, Sniper Shooter and Modern Combat also let you shoot at people.

Kotkin and Cutler argue that Apple's policies aren't universally applied, citing games on the App Store in which "stereotypes of specific races like African Americans and Hispanics and real entities and cultures like gangsters, drug dealers and the mafia [are] depicted in violent acts."

Still, the question is: Where should Apple draw the line when it comes to these types of shoot-em-up games, whether or not they're based on real events?

Kotkin and Cutler said they created the game to honor Cecil's memory and make the public aware of the illegal killing of these animals. The team also added that proceeds from Cecil's Revenge would help fund technology such as drones and satellites to stop illegal poaching.

"Cecil's death empowered us to do a game where animals shoot at the poachers for a change," Culter said in a press release. "We have the animals shooting while flying through space for a reason. It has to do with drones and satellites. These modern technologies could track the animals and also track the poachers if they kill another Cecil."

The game is available for Android devices on Google Play, which has less strict guidelines than the App Store.