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Is Android’s Dog Wars App Really “Just a Game?” (Updated)

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?

Take Action: Sign the petition to tell Kage Games and Google that the app should be taken down.

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Photo Credit: mccoy77 via Flickr

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118 comments

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4:31AM PST on Dec 22, 2011

The principle is the same those that engage in violent video games have a greater tendency to be violent to humans or animals, it's just a matter of time & yet to happen.So its simple and clear logic.

android developers

1:12PM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

Cheryl:

And yet, millions of people play violent games and aren't in jail or criminal at all. Explain that, please.

And what Pantera said was right. No one says anything about Pokemon, the biggest animal fighting game at all. GOTTA CATCH'EM ALL!!!!

Let's not forget that what one plays or watches does not necessarily predict behavior.

10:52AM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

scary how many violent games are out there... no wonder our jails are full

2:58AM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

Any game that fosters violence even if it's not real is alarming. The principle is the same - those that engage in violent video games have a greater tendency to be violent-to humans or animals, it's just a matter of time & "yet" to happen. Dog fighting is never just a game. Take it from Michael Vick himself who has learned the error of his ways,

2:51PM PDT on May 11, 2011

And of course, we really should be going after Pokemon, right? After all, Pokemon was pretty much the original game and cartoon that taught kids it was OK to capture wild animals and then train them to fight each other.

12:19PM PDT on May 11, 2011

As much as I hate dog fighting, I really have to lean towards yes, this is protected free speech. I also have to point out that no study has ever shown a link between those who play violent video games, and those who commit violence in real life. And virtually no psychiatry expert believes there's a cause / effect relationship between video game violence and real life action.

Also, for as worked up as people are getting about this game, I wonder why the same people aren't calling for Saints Row or the Grand Theft Auto games to be banned. After all, you can bash in the skulls of police officers and old ladies in these games. But we don't hear the same kind of outcry against these games as we do against this one.

7:47AM PDT on May 9, 2011

we should have more games where you kill KKK and Neo-Nazi's.

11:50AM PDT on May 4, 2011

We need to send a clear and concise message: Dog fighting is a crime and should be punishable to the extreme!
An application promoting dog fighgting is UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!!
Boycott the stupid phone if that is what it takes to wake Google up about this violent app!!!!
Loss of profit always wakes up the greedy!

9:23AM PDT on May 4, 2011

Adam G- I'm disgusted by this game AND by games like that stolen car one where you have to beat people. They don't come in my house and I talk to parents before my children are over there. If they choose to allow those games, that's their choice, but I don't want my kids exposed to them. My biggest concern, without question, is the availability of the ap. Since it's free, parents may not know their children are downloading it and my understanding is that to block aps being downloaded (provided they are free) means that all data would be blocked which includes texts and the "Parent watch" programs that allow parents to use phones to track their kid's movements throughout the day. Since none of my kids have cel phones and ours are not smart phones, I can only say that is what I was told. Before people assume that we just "Hate video games", we do have a Wii and my husband has a PS3. We're just careful about what is bought and played. For the record... Mario world is a fantasy game, Sonic the hedgehog is a fantasy game... watching an animal or person be blown or torn into bloody bits is NOT a fantasy game.

10:06AM PDT on May 3, 2011

I think any games that promote violent behavior are detrimental to children because they can't fully discern the difference between reality and fantasy. However the popularity of "wrestling" and UFC type events, first person shooter games etc. shows us that there is still a high level of blood lust in humans...a gladiator mentality of sorts that seems to permeate cultures.

The game is definitely in poor taste.

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