Apple Rejects Game Based On Bible Story Due To Content Including Violence Against Children

from the oh-god dept

Apple has a long and annoying history of trying to keep the content within its app store as pure as the driven snow. To do this, Apple employs an arbitrary and downright stupid sense of morality. That’s how you end up with Apple banning a VR representation of the Ferguson shooting, for instance, despite the fact that it was non-graphic. Or that time the company killed off a Civil War simulation because the game contained historically accurate representations of the Confederate flag. Or when it removed an image-searching app from the store because, hey, somebody somewhere might use it to see naughty-bits.

But to really see Apple’s morality turned on its head, we can now point to its rejection of a mobile version of the popular game The Binding of Isaac because it contains violence towards children. And, on the face of it, you can see Apple’s point. The game, after all, does indeed have some themes that would normally raise eyebrows over at Apple.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth’s console and platform editions are rated M by the ESRB. Promotional images for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth have frequently shown cartoon representations of children, including the protagonist, naked and weeping, curled up on the floor in a dungeon, or otherwise mistreated.

The game itself is a procedurally generated dungeon crawler that does feature violence, but only in the sense of basic gameplay where combat is an option. Some of the dungeon’s inhabitants are deformed, but again, they’re rendered in a stylized, cartoonish way.

The reason the player is crawling through those dungeons is because the mother in the story is attempting to capture him and sacrifice him as an offering to the God she is hearing in her head. And, if that particular bit sounds incredibly familiar to you, it’s because it’s a variance on the age-old biblical story on which the game is based.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is inspired by the Old Testament story of Isaac, the son of Abraham, whom God had asked to sacrifice on Mount Moriah. He is stopped at the last moment by an angel. Interpretations of it among the Abrahamic faiths vary but it is, broadly speaking, a test-of-faith story that in the United States has been taught in Sunday school for decades.

Truth be told, it’s a horrible story that I’m not and never was particularly fond of, even when I was in Sunday School. Still, Apple’s rejection of the app on the grounds that it contains “violence against children” would be on much more solid ground if the god damn source material, known as the various iterations of the Bible, didn’t have an entire section on Apple’s book store dedicated to it. Anyone really want to suggest that those holy books don’t also contain violence against children?

The point, of course, isn’t that Apple should also take down the bible from the app store. That would be stupid. As stupid as, say, Apple’s arbitrary application of Apple Morality in a way that is equally ham-fisted and incoherent. It would be better if Apple tempted fate by taking down Eden’s walls to let the public apply its own morality, whatever serpents might be found in wait.

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Comments on “Apple Rejects Game Based On Bible Story Due To Content Including Violence Against Children”

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40 Comments
That One Other Not So Random Guy says:

Thats why I bought a Samsung. And after having My Galaxy Tab side by side with my daughter’s iPad, AND… being the support personnel in the family… my opinion is that it is far easier to pick up an Android and be productive than an iPad. Case in point. I have 800 meg in the icrap being used by 4 videos in one album. My daughter did not create the album in iTunes nor does she remember creating it on the device. No amount of clicking on the device will remove the album/videos and from the crApple KB articles it says you have to delete the album through iTunes, but iTunes doesn’t even see the album. They do not show up under anything but the album.
Wanna know what I do on the Android? Tap Hold, hit “x” and poof, gone. Kies is a nice program but not NEEDED.
Screw crApple and their overpriced PC hardware with an antiquated OS.

And before the crApple fan-girls come crawling from behind their iPads to chastise me, I support MACs and have 2 macbook pros… only… because I have to.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I would not call KIES a nice program in any way, shape, or form, but it IS a simple fact that Android is far superior to IOS for anyone that wants to have even the slightest modicum of control over their device.

My android phone has an actual FILE MANAGER, which doesn’t require jailbreaking/root to use! < Was sarcasm by the way. The mind boggling bullshit is that Crapple doesn’t provide those most basic of management tools for their shit. They’ve so glorified form that they’ve forgotten shit should actually function.

MS-DOS had a file manager for gods sake. Look even further back at Unix for that matter, file management was one of its main functions, with the pipe system helping that.

I don’t want a Facebook machine. I don’t want a telephone/whatsapp device. I want my computers to be as fully functional as a computer can be. And thanks to the mighty Mr Turing, may he be glorified forever, we know that that is always possible. It’s assholes trying to wall us in to their own monopolistic ecosystems that make shit suck.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Does this surprise you? We’re talking about people who will brick your phone if you dare to get it repaired by a third party and have the audacity to call it a “security feature.” The iPhone was deliberately designed, from beginning to end, to limit what you are able to do and take away your right to control your own property. Keeping you locked out of the file system is a fundamental, necessary step in that process.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

It's not actually based on the biblical tale...

Or it is but super-loosely. It’s about a boy in a messed up Christian family who’s mom goes a little whacko…and it gets very meta the more you play it.

More importantly, it’s Edmund McMullen’s masterpiece, so this is sorta up there with Facebook banning The Little Mermaid due to bronze boobies. Or the many challenges of The Catcher In the Rye.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Parenting by proxy, simplifies the task of real parents. Also get parents to buy apple products for their kids because they are the safe choice and they have new buyers in the future who will first think of apple for their devices, because that is what they are used to. Just look at how many people are sticking with Microsoft despite windows 10.

David says:

Re: In the original story

You mean Abraham? Wasn’t he even older than that? I thought the point was that he was really old, finally got a son from his wife (rather than the maid), and had to sacrifice him. Yes, when Isaac was finally clued into the proceedings, he told his father to go ahead. But I don’t remember him being 40 already?

David says:

A video game is an interpretation.

The bible section, however, already has its fixed interpretations by the followers of Paul (calling Christians the followers of Jesus would be stretch since the latter was an orthodox Jew and insisted upon the sanctity of the whole Torah rather than cherry-picked parts).

Making a video game, particularly about an Old Testament topic, brings scripture to life that is supposed to be kept embalmed in a very specific manner, that of the church.

You could label it as heretic. But at any rate, it is something new requiring a new evaluation. And if you were to write something like the Bible today, you’d not get a free pass. It’s much too full of hate speech. Stuff like “take our enemies’ childred and smash their skulls open on the rocks” (don’t have a Bible handy right now, find the psalm(s) yourself if you care for it). I mean, where’s the educational value in the Shiboleth story (Jephtah I think, so likely somewhere in the Judges)? Don’t speak with an accent, or you’ll be killed?

Starke (profile) says:

Re: A video game is an interpretation.

No… it’s not an interpretation. It’s may well be a metaphor for growing up in a fundamentalist home, and being exposed to the outside world, or it may simply be a criticism of fundamentalist Christians and pathological religious zealotry in general.

What it’s not is a bible story. Interpreted, reinterpreted, hung from the ceiling by it’s ankle, it doesn’t matter. It is the story of a mentally ill woman trying to kill her own son.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Still, Apple’s rejection of the app on the grounds that it contains “violence against children” would be on much more solid ground if the god damn source material, known as the various iterations of the Bible, didn’t have an entire section on Apple’s book store dedicated to it.

That’s funny. I don’t remember any dungeon crawling, psychotic mothers, deformed monsters, or people naked and weeping, curled up on the floor in a dungeon, in the story of Abraham and Isaac.

This sounds like you bought into a manufactured controversy. Again.

David says:

Re: Re:

How about the story where a travelling man hands over his wife for raping in order to get to sleep in peace, and when he finds out in the morning that she’s been raped to death, he cuts her into pieces and sends one piece to each of the other tribes of Israel and so they decide to do genocide on the tribe they consider responsible but then feel sorry afterwards and decide that they’ll send them a few men or women or sheep (don’t remember which) for the sake of rebreeding?

It’s not just Abraham and Isaac the Bible is about.

Or Lot offering his daughters (those who later make him drunk in order to sleep with him and procreate) to the people of Sodom to rape instead of the angel visiting his house?

And that’s just the good guys.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: religion is 100% BS

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
— Bertrand Russell, 1952

Beardly (profile) says:

Sacrifice of Issac Parable Not Approriate for Children

Is the statement “Truth be told, it’s a horrible story that I’m not and never was particularly fond of, even when I was in Sunday School” really true? I wasn’t exposed to this story in Church until I was a teenager. It seems age inappropriate for children, as much of the OT is especially without insight into the historical intended audience. Child sacrifice was a normal part of ancient culture. Wiki search Child Sacrifice. The story didn’t offend the ancient ears that heard it, in fact they were excited because this God (the Hebrew one) didn’t expect them to murder their own children for him. I agree with Apple’s decision to removing it from the app store. Not appropriate for children, I’m sorry if you were exposed to at an age to young to understand its merits in full historical context.

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