Pamela brought my attention to a popular iPhone game called ‘Pocket God‘. The game involves a little Pacific island where little islanders are plopped onto a small island and where you can torment them in several ways by either throwing them into the sea, flinging them into volcanoes, dragging them up in the air and shaking them and other fun filled godly acts.
You can see the game in action below:
Now maybe us in PNG can shy away from feeling anything towards the game because they have a Easter Island statue on the little island, but something for some reason irks me just a little about the game. Maybe because as a reviewer of the game put it, ‘There are really only a few ways of making the islander’s lives miserable, and no ways of making their lives better’. Does it have a larger social meaning or am I just being a hyper sensitive post colonial islander? A good discussion can be found here with the games designers as well.
Also some screen shots here from the technical review:
8 thoughts on “Pocket God – insulting or good fun?”
Thanks for bringing this up Emmanuel.
I’ve been to the discussion thread you pointed us to above and read a lot of theories and counter theories about the wrongs, or the lack of it, of this game.
The creators of the game are suddenly taking a ‘willingness to learn approach’ when they are being grilled on their choice of Pacific Islanders as the recipients of the calamities in the game. They are also offering all sorts of excuses to try and justify their actions but I am yet to find a convincing one.
However engaging the discussions may be on that thread, nothing can take away the fact that this game enables its players to take delight in the demise of other people. This is what is NOT right with this game.
How would the Americans feel if I designed a game that portrays people entering the Twin Towers and two jets crashing into them?
Yeah it was interesting their choice of setting, when asked why they didn’t go for say Africans or Jews etc…
Somebody must be really pissed with Pacific Islanders or had a bad experience with Pacific Islanders!
Hey E, good find. I came across this yesterday and was going to write it up.
Solo, I don’ t think that’s the case. I think what’s on display is the poor understanding westerners have of life in the S. Pacific.
These themes and representations are pretty common. Anyone seen the Simpsons episode where Homer becomes a missionary in the South Seas?
This game is absolutely pointless, along with many of the Apps available on Itunes. Who gets paid to create these applications?
Not only does this game feature such stereotypical representations of Pacific Islanders, they don’t even LOOK human, how degrading. Have you ever seen a P.I. with a bone in their hair? More like the Flinstones if you ask me.
Pocket God is creating a horrible group of mindless followers. Some of the comments on reviewing the App are completely inappropriate, I cannot believe that they were approved!
“This is the BEST app ever!!! You can easily torture the people you hate!!!!”
“This app is great! I spent an hour on playing this! It’s fun burning them. I can’t wait for the next update!”
This is being blown way out of proportion. Pocket God has rewards to counter the attacks on the Pygmies. There’s coconuts, fishing, etc. and you feed them these gifts.
Pocket God is not referencing to the Pacific AT ALL. It’s set in a fictional prehistoric time and that’s why they have bones in their hair. It’s not supposed to look completely ‘human’ and it’s not degrading… it’s a cartoon.
And Apple can’t regulate what people say on app reviews so that’s a pointless argument. There’s plenty of more ‘inappropriate’ things said on other app reviews.
And lastly, I can see where this is coming from but barely. If you read through the details and actually speak directly to the developers, you would have a much better understanding, which obviously you don’t.
You’re right maybe I should appraoch a developer, but they’ve been pretty clear about their intentions at Savage Minds. One of the developers, Dave Castelnuovo explained his approach as so:
“We did not go about making a game about indigenous people. the game is about a small race of beings that are about as big as your thumb and live inside your phone. What Allan is trying to say is that we purposely made their representation non human because we do not want to represent human beings of any sort (they could be thought of as island elves). The game is not set in the real world. We used a loose representation of a Moai purley as graphical treatment, not to set a context.”
Personally I can’t identify wholly to the characters in the game, but at some level I can see where it could be offensive. You can’t call it entirelly fictional and you can’t say that its based on a fictional culture. The Moai from Easter Island is an elephant sitting in the room.