In this Sept. 24, 2019, file photo a sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif. Google is formally pushing back on antitrust claims brought against it by the Justice Department two months ago.
Mary ManleyFollowing an outcry from Brazilians, Google Play recently pulled a “Slavery Simulator” game (Simulador de Escravidão), which allowed players to exist in a simulation of a South American country in the 1600s. The game allowed players to buy, sell, punish and sexualize enslaved people.The Brazilian Public Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation into how a “Slavery Simulator” game was made available on Google’s Play Store, giving the tech giant three days to provide documentation about on how it was approved for public consumption.Prosecutors have pointed out that the game prompted a “great number of racist comments,” some of which saw users requesting additional torture options.“Great game to pass the time, but it lacks more torture options,” one user allegedly wrote. “They could also include an option to whip a slave, too. Other than that, the game is perfect.”The game’s description states: “Choose one of two goals at the beginning of the slave owner simulator: the Path of the Tyrant or the Path of the Liberator. Become a wealthy slave owner or achieve the abolition of slavery. Everything is in your hands.”
The game was launched on April 20 and was downloaded more than 1,000 times before it was taken down on Wednesday. It was created by MagnusGames and was listed on Google Play with an “all ages” rating.
Condemning the game, Brazilian lawmaker Denise Pessoa tweeted: “Our country was built with the blood of the Black population. People were killed, tortured. A ‘Slavery Simulator’ is not a theme for games.”
“It’s something unbelievable that in a country where racism is a crime, a country that lived through the wounds of slavery, a digital platform makes a macabre and barbaric game like this one,” Orlando Silva de Jesus Junior, a federal lawmaker, said during a congressional debate. “Young teens are the ones who consume the most games. It’s unacceptable that something like this happened.”
Google sent a statement to US media but appeared to take no level of accountability for the game.“We have a robust set of policies that are designed to keep users safe and that all developers must follow. We don’t allow apps that promote violence or incite hatred against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, or that depict or promote gratuitous violence or other dangerous activities. Anyone who believes they have found an app that violates our rules can file a report. When we identify a policy violation, we take appropriate action,” Google said in a statement.This week, Orlando Silva de Jesus Junior joined racial justice advocate André Alexandre Garcia da Silva in filing a complaint accusing Google of violating Brazilian law that bans “practicing, inducing or inciting discrimination or prejudice of race, color, ethnicity, religion or national origin.” The Brazilian Bar Association has also condemned the game.An earlier version of this article inaccurately referred to Malaysian company Magnus Games Studio as the developer responsible for the controversial ‘Slavery Simulator’ game. In fact, the game was developed by a different company, MagnusGames, which is not related to Magnus Games Studio. We apologize for the mistake.