Apple rejects game about Palestine because political messages disqualify games from consideration

Liyla and the Shadows of War (Google Play link) is a game about a child's struggles living in the Gaza strip, and Apple says it is ineligible for consideration for inclusion in the Ios App Store because it would be "more appropriate to categorize your app in News or Reference for example."

The rejection from Apple is consistent with the company's very vague guidelines, which says that apps can't be critical or describe sex, because apps are "different than books or songs."

But these guidelines are unevenly applied. For example, the App Store contains an Angry Birds clone called Israeli Heroes that lets you hurl cartoon missiles at vaguely Arabic-looking adversaries.

Other examples of questionable iOS App Store rejections are almost too numerous to list. A "virtual reality journalism" app about the recent police shooting in Ferguson was rejected last year for "inappropriate subject matter." Papers, Please was initially rejected for brief scenes of nude people in a body scanner, before Apple reversed the decision. Games have been dismissed for exploring the ongoing Syrian civil war, for examining sweatshop conditions, and for teaching women about masturbation, among other things.

Retailers and platform holders have the right to arrange their storefronts any way they see fit, of course, and game makers can always take their content to more open platforms. But when a company like Apple exercises total control over what can be sold to a major chunk of the mobile market, it can have an outsized impact on the direction of the entire market. Apple owes it to developers and mobile gamers as a whole to be clearer and more open about what speech it considers "appropriate" in the gaming realm.

Apple says game about Palestinian child isn't a game
[Kyle Orland/Ars Technica]