Apple bans artistic game based on Foxconn suicides from App Store

In A Permanent Save StateIn A Permanent Save State is an interactive, artistic work by Benjamin Poynter. The short-lived iOS game — now removed from the App Store — featured a surrealist style, pairing soft colors with harsh lines and keeping a hand-drawn aesthetic throughout the experience. Poynter says the game imagines an afterlife for seven overworked employees who took their own life. The narrative found in the game was influenced by the real-life suicides that occurred in 2010 at Foxconn’s manufacturing plants, an undeniably large part of the reason the game was removed. Especially since Apple has been under fire lately for the riots and strikes at various Foxconn plants protesting poor work conditions.

Poynter described the game in more detail to The Verge via email: 

“I related quite a bit to the situation of these young people and the stress that comes with not seeing the end of things. I guessed in my mind what they would have wanted to see in their eternal setting, as I had visions of it myself.”

However, following its established pattern of banning controversial applications from being downloaded in the App Store, Apple removed In A Permanent Save State after less than an hour. The exact reason it was removed, in other words which Apple guideline it violated, has not been determined. Sources familiar with the review process think it probably has to do with rules against “objectionable content” and material that “solely target a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity.”

But Poynter told The Verge he had a suspicion his app wouldn’t last long in Apple’s hands. He did his best to keep Foxconn out of the spotlight, choosing instead to focus on the human side of the issue.

“I wanted to go all in,” he said. “No looking back, even if it meant offending certain groups or corporations.”

This isn’t the first time Apple has drawn the curtains on a game alluding to the creation of its beloved iPhone. Phone Story, a satirical game that looked at the ethical and environmental issues created throughout the lifespan of a smartphone — complete with a “Suicides” mini-game — was also banned from the App Store for being “objectionable.” It’s not just smartphone-related controversy Apple would like to avoid either. In 2010, Apple refused to reinstate The Manhattan Declaration, originally removed because of its homophobic and anti-abortion advocacy, despite a large petition defending its message.

Do you think Apple is right in taking down In A Permanent Save State or is the smartphone leader just trying to protect its reputation?