In an act that has sparked outrage in Brazil, Google has removed a contentious "slavery simulator" game called "Plantation Master" from its Play Store. The game received widespread criticism for promoting racism and the normalization of slavery. The public outcry, which was led by Brazilian rapper Emicida, resulted in Google taking down the game and initiating an investigation into the matter.
"Plantation Master" was developed by a South African company and was available for free on the Google Play Store. It allowed players to take on the role of slave owner, grow cash crops and upgrade their plantations by purchasing slaves. Players were encouraged to "discipline" the slaves to ensure maximum profitability. The graphic depictions of abuse and exploitation in the game were seen as a direct insult to the descendants of African slaves in Brazil.
The controversy surrounding the game was not confined to Brazil. It also received backlash in other countries, drawing condemnation from anti-racism campaigners and civil rights groups alike. According to Brazilian news outlet G1, a petition was launched demanding Google remove the game from its platform, which garnered over 38,000 signatures in a short period. This eventually led to Google's decision to remove the game and issue an apology for the same.
In response to the controversy, Google issued a statement, saying, "We have strict policies that prohibit apps that promote hatred, discrimination, and violence, and we take action whenever we identify an app that is in violation of these policies. In this case, we removed the app from the Play Store as soon as we were made aware of the issue." However, questions have been raised about the tech giant's vetting process, with critics stating that the game should have never been available on the platform in the first place.
Despite Google's swift action and apology, the incident has highlighted the persisting problems of racism and discrimination, not just in Brazil but globally. It serves as a reminder that the tech industry and app developers must be more vigilant and mindful of the content they create and host in order to avoid perpetuating harmful narratives and promoting ignorance and prejudice.