Apple has once again pulled the iPhone game “Baby Shaker” off their App Store. The $0.99 application is pretty much exactly what its name implies. Users utilize the iPhone’s motion detection to shake a picture of a crying baby until red X’s appear over the infants eyes signaling their demise and the end of the game.
The game’s lighthearted description reads, “See how long you can endure his or her adorable cries before you just have to find a way to quiet the baby down!”
The game’s intentionally flippant representation has caught the attention of several Shaken Baby Support and Prevention groups who were outraged by it.
“As a mother of a child who was violently shaken at 7 weeks old, causing a severe brain injury, I don’t have to tell you how much this horrifies me!” Jennipher Dickens, founder of the National Organization for Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention said.
Understandably, Apple pulled the game, but then re-released. Now it seems they have taken it down again, perhaps for good this time. Their knee-jerk reaction is bringing in fresh waves of criticism from gamers and journalists who feel that Apple should stand up for their right to sell whatever offensive and morally objectionable games they want as they are protected by the first amendment.
“I’m troubled by the way Apple caved into pressure here. Of course this application is deeply offensive, with no redeeming value except to people who like to play gross games or have twisted senses of humor. “ Saul Hansell of the New York Times said.
Now, as a parent (of a non-shaken baby) and a gamer I feel kinda torn on the issue. My mommy instincts tell me this game is sick and makes a mockery of a serious problem. My gamer side feels the need to point out that the game isn’t a training guide for hurting babies, its just a harmless app that is only getting any attention because of all the controversy.
I may feel differently if my son was a victim of shaking, but the games graphics aren’t detailed or gory and it clearly is only meant to be shocking and darkly humorous not realistic. I’m not going to bash Apple for removing the game since it’s hardly worth fighting a legal crusade for the sake of one $0.99 application, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the game’s creators just found another venue and continued distributing it to interested consumers.
I would never buy it, but I don’t think its my place to keep others from downloading it so they can play it once for lulz then realize its not really an interesting game outside of all the hype and delete it. I’m sure there will be something new to be offended by before too long anyway.
Written for Scrambled Pixel on 4/23/09.