Google removes controversial Slavery Simulator game amid Brazil outrage
A controversial game named Slavery Simulator has been removed from Google’s app store following a significant backlash in Brazil. The app, developed by Magnus Games, was launched on April 20 and allowed players to “buy and sell” black characters. The game was downloaded over 1,000 times before being taken down.
Brazil is a nation grappling with the legacy of slavery, which was only abolished in 1888. The game’s description claimed that users could “exchange, buy and sell slaves” and even inflict various forms of torture on black characters. Images from the game showed users being given the choice to either free the enslaved characters or use them for personal gain, preventing the abolition of slavery and accumulating wealth.
Upon removal, the game had a rating of four out of five stars. One review stated: “Great game to pass the time. But I think it lacked more torture options.”
Outrage ensued on social media in Brazil, with several high-profile politicians calling for greater accountability from tech companies. Renata Souza, a black activist and regional politician from Rio de Janeiro, tweeted: “Blatant racism. The image illustrating the game has a white man surrounded by black men. It is absurdly violent. Google and the developer must answer for this crime of hatred and racism.”
Denise Pessoa, a lawmaker from the ruling PT political party, expressed her disbelief on Twitter: “IT IS ABSURD that a game that spreads cruelty and hate speech against black people is available. Our country was built with the blood of the black population. People were killed, and tortured. A ‘Slavery Simulator’ is no joke.”
Brazil’s Public Prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into how the game, called Simulador de Escravidão in Portuguese, was allowed on the Google Play Store. The Ministry for Racial Equality has scheduled a meeting with Google to develop “anti-racist content moderation” policies and stated that the developers would be held legally responsible, reports BBC News.
A Google spokesperson told the BBC that the Play Store prohibits “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.” They added, “When violations are found, we take appropriate action.”
Magnus Games did not provide a comment when contacted by the BBC. Still, the description of the game states that it was “crafted solely for amusement purposes. Our studio rejects any form of slavery. The content in the game is fictional and not linked to specific historical occurrences. All resemblances are unintentional.”
Historically, more than four million enslaved individuals were transported to Brazil. In 1822, the country’s population was 3.5 million, of which 1.5 million were enslaved people.
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