Is Android’s Dog Wars App Really “Just a Game?” (Updated)
Update: Although there were reports over the weekend that the controversial Android app, Dog Wars, was pulled from the Marketplace this weekend, the game is back, now promoted as KG Dogfighting. The makers of the app have changed the name due to a copy-right conflict, but the dog-fighting game is still available for download.
In March of this year, Apple pulled a controversial “gay cure” app from its App Store. This month they also pulled a controversial game called “Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration,” a game that challenges players to get across the Mexican-American border without “losing” any of the immigrants in the back of their truck.
As Apple continues to respond to public outcry and monitors every app that is sold through their App Store, Google seems to be doing the opposite. A recent app created by Kage Games and sold through the Android Marketplace allows players to feed, train and fight their dogs against others in order to be the best.
Animal lovers everywhere have been understandably outraged. The Humane Society partnered with former dog fighter Micheal Vick to release a statement on the game. As posted on the Humane Society website, Vick had this to say:
“I’ve come to learn the hard way that dogfighting is a dead-end street. Now, I am on the right side of this issue, and I think it’s important to send the smart message to kids, and not glorify this form of animal cruelty, even in an Android app.”
The makers of the app, Kage Games, has responded to critics much like one would think that anyone who could create such a violent game would; by constantly defending it as “just a game.” On the apps description in the marketplace, the makers reply, “Perhaps one day we will make gerbil wars or beta fish wars for people who can’t understand fantasy role play games.”
According to the Android Marketplace rules and regulations, “Android Market should not be used for unlawful purposes or for promotion of dangerous and illegal activities.” While some say that the app does not violate the Marketplace guidelines, dog fighting is a felony in all fifty states, meaning that a game that glorifies dog fighting can technically be seen as “promotion of dangerous and illegal activities.”
Free speech issues are also at play here. While I am normally all for free speech, I personally feel that this game should not be protected under it. Because the game is free, children are able to download it without their parents’ knowledge. The game gives realistic training and fighting tips and can essentially be a training tool to those who may one day decide to upgrade to the real thing. Games that depict realistic, violent game-play in which animals are the target only help to spread the idea that animals are only things and that brutally and cruelly killing them is okay.
What do you think? Should the Dog Wars app be protected as free speech, or does it violate Android’s Marketplace guidelines?
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Photo Credit: mccoy77 via Flickr