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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Doug D, Feb 11th, 2016 @ 3:44pm

    Meanwhile...

    Meanwhile, Nintendo approved it. It's on the WiiU e-shop right now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    That One Other Not So Random Guy, Feb 11th, 2016 @ 4:02pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Feb 11th, 2016 @ 4:35pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2016 @ 4:39pm

    I don't agree with their rules, but at least they're consistent.

    "We view Apps different than books or songs, which we do not curate. If you want to criticize a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical App."


    https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2016 @ 4:44pm

    Are you going to write a new article every time Apple enforces its own policy? There's nothing newsworthy about this particular instance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2016 @ 5:24pm

    Re:

    Are you going to whine every time he does?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2016 @ 5:26pm

    Re:

    Whoosh...

    That what it sounds like going by when someone completely misses the point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2016 @ 8:26pm

    I don't get why Apple just can't allow more freedom on the topics of stuff offered in the Apple store.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    tracyanne, Feb 11th, 2016 @ 10:42pm

    Re:

    I don't care, I don't/won't use Apple products.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2016 @ 10:53pm

    Re: Meanwhile...

    3DS as well. Portable Isaac is fantastic, although I'm pretty sure that the Afterbirth expansion or the forthcoming expansion won't make it to 3DS. Rebirth alone stretches the 3DS pretty hard, with some noticeable slowdown at points.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    ysth (profile), Feb 11th, 2016 @ 11:00pm

    In the original story

    Isaac was 40 years old and knew exactly what he was doing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2016 @ 11:05pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2016 @ 12:45am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    David, Feb 12th, 2016 @ 1:05am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Starke (profile), Feb 12th, 2016 @ 1:16am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 12th, 2016 @ 3:43am

    Re:

    Did your daddy not love you enough?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2016 @ 3:56am

    Re: Re:

    Got a review yet? cos you did some work, wrote a book, eh?
    Called it echelon, whoo spies,got some UFO's in there too, got an 'Agency", a "deep throat" freemasons, nazis and the illuminati.

    No wonder you got no reviews, no cunt wants to read you!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2016 @ 4:01am

    Re: Re:

    Intellectual Property sure ain't scace when you've got a stack of unsold novels holding up your futon, eh, dark Glans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 12th, 2016 @ 4:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Heh, that was a good one, actually!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    David, Feb 12th, 2016 @ 4:50am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    StupidAtheist.com, Feb 12th, 2016 @ 6:22am

    Well, to be consistent then...

    ...they really need to bad EVERY Bible app.

    If an excerpt from a single passage of a single book of a single Testament of the "Good Book" is unacceptable, certainly the entire tome is, no?

    I suppose the "Lot's Daughters" game will have to be relegated to the Android platform...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2016 @ 6:35am

    Re: Re: In the original story

    A quick Google search gave me this link: http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1272

    It demonstrates how one can reach the conclusion that Isaac was upwards of 30-something when Abraham was instructed to sacrifice him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2016 @ 7:02am

    Ummmmm - so I was wondering about this game.

    Does it have a god mode?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Feb 12th, 2016 @ 7:17am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. icon
    nasch (profile), Feb 12th, 2016 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re:

    You can't get a file manager app on an iPhone? What the...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    David, Feb 12th, 2016 @ 7:29am

    Re:

    Sure. Whenever the game does not go according to plan, you get to punch the keyboard.

    I mean, have you read the Old Testament?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Feb 12th, 2016 @ 7:53am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. icon
    nasch (profile), Feb 12th, 2016 @ 8:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Does this surprise you?

    I guess I gave Apple and Apple customers too much credit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2016 @ 10:04am

    "Think of the children"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Anonymously Brave, Feb 12th, 2016 @ 10:11am

    iMorality version 2.0...

    ...now with twice the protection and half the common sense.

    Download and install?

    Y / N

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. icon
    PRMan (profile), Feb 12th, 2016 @ 11:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It will even brick if you just set the clock back to 1/1/1970.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. icon
    PRMan (profile), Feb 12th, 2016 @ 11:43am

    Re: Re: Re: In the original story

    He wouldn't be asking his father where the sacrifice was if he agreed, though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    David, Feb 12th, 2016 @ 12:57pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 14th, 2016 @ 6:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Apple has long been (since at least the introduction of the original Mac) an awful, abusive company. Not really much different from Microsoft in terms of corporate behavior.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 15th, 2016 @ 7:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's a straight-up bug, not intentional behavior. Also, the device isn't technically bricked -- you can make it recover from that state by completely draining the battery.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    No, Feb 16th, 2016 @ 4:12pm

    religion is 100% BS

    why'd anyone believe those ridiculous stories?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Feb 16th, 2016 @ 4:18pm

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. icon
    Beardly (profile), Feb 17th, 2016 @ 8:40pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2016 @ 5:44pm

    Gee, I'd hate to see what they'd do with the Song of Solomon. "This app has been banned for promoting poetic Bronze Age porn."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2016 @ 9:09pm

    Re: Re: A video game is an interpretation.

    Kill his own son?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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