Brazil investigates ‘Slavery Simulator’ game pulled from Google Play

For a few month, Google Play customers in Brazil may obtain a game that simulated what the South American nation seemed like within the 1600s — a Portuguese colony and main hub of the Atlantic slave commerce. In reality, that’s the entire premise of the game referred to as “Simulador de Escravidão,” or “Slavery Simulator”: to make use of collected, make-believe wealth to purchase, promote, punish or sexualize enslaved folks.

“Choose one of two goals at the beginning of the slave owner simulator: the Path of the Tyrant or the Path of the Liberator. Become a wealthy slave owner or achieve the abolition of slavery. Everything is in your hands,” the game’s description learn.

The game was taken down by Google Play on Wednesday after it first popped up on the app market April 20. But now it’s on the heart of a number of complaints — and a wave of backlash that has reignited a debate about regulation in digital areas.

“It’s something unbelievable that in a country where racism is a crime, a country that lived through the wounds of slavery, a digital platform makes a macabre and barbaric game like this one,” Orlando Silva de Jesus Junior, a federal lawmaker, said in Portuguese throughout a congressional debate. “Young teens are the ones who consume the most games. It’s unacceptable that something like this happened.”

On Wednesday, Silva joined André Alexandre Garcia da Silva, from the racial justice advocacy group Unegro, in submitting a criticism with the nation’s Public Prosecutor’s Office. The criticism accuses Google of violating a Brazilian regulation that bans “practicing, inducing or inciting discrimination or prejudice of race, color, ethnicity, religion or national origin.” Silva vowed on Twitter to hunt the best attainable penalties, “preferably the arrest of those responsible.”

Silva’s criticism additionally requested the federal government company to research a slew of offensive evaluations on Google Play — together with one which praised the simulation for “portraying well what I would like to do in real life,” in accordance with screenshots included within the doc.

“Great game to pass the time, but it lacks more torture options,” one consumer allegedly wrote. “They could also include an option to whip a slave, too. Other than that, the game is perfect.”

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A spokesperson for Google Brazil mentioned the corporate’s on-line app retailer has “a robust set of policies aimed at keeping users safe and which all developers must follow.”

“We don’t allow apps that promote violence or incite hatred against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, or that depict or promote gratuitous violence or other dangerous activities,” the spokesperson mentioned, including that customers ought to report attainable rule violations they encounter.

The controversy prompted different politicians — together with lawmaker Ivan Valente, Rio de Janeiro Councilwoman Thais Ferreira and São Paulo Councilwoman Elaine Mineiro — to submit their very own complaints. The Brazilian Bar Association condemned “Slavery Simulator,” saying in an announcement that it “represents a retrograde step and the lamentable racist mentality that should never have existed, nor should continue to exist.”

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On Wednesday, the Public Prosecutor’s Office opened a probe into why the game, which garnered over 1,000 downloads earlier than it was eliminated, was made out there on the platform. In an announcement, the company mentioned Google has three days to supply “specific information about the game” — together with its availability and a “full copy of all documents and of the internal administrative procedures of approval request made by the developer.”

Magnus Games’s portfolio contains a wide selection of simulator-style video games. On Thursday night, different video games by the “Slavery Simulator” developer have been now not out there on Google Play. The slavery-themed game, in addition to others, gave the impression to be out there in English and for obtain on different Android app installer websites.

The developer didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark from The Washington Post. In its now-defunct Google Play description, Magnus Games suggested: “This game is created for entertainment purposes. We condemn slavery in the real world.”

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But Silva, the lawmaker, mentioned the game underscored the need for Brazil’s elected leaders to cross PL 2630, a chunk of laws dubbed the “fake news law.”

That invoice is shaping as much as be one of many strictest on this planet in regards to the regulation of Big Tech corporations and their social media platforms. PL 2630 — which is corresponding to the European Union’s Digital Services Act from 2022 — compels web corporations to report unlawful content material and imposes hefty fines for failures to take action. But the debate over the bill has been steeped in controversy.

Major corporations like Google and Meta, in addition to free speech activists and conservative lawmakers, oppose the invoice. Earlier this month, Marcelo Lacerda, director of presidency relations and public coverage at Google Brazil, argued that “Hasty legislation can make the internet work worse, restrict fundamental rights … and create mechanisms that put legitimate speech and freedom of expression at risk.”

But on Wednesday, with information of the slavery-themed game trending, Silva refuted these claims. “The very existence of something so bizarre and available on the platforms shows “the URGENCY of regulating the digital environment,” he tweeted.

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