Friday, December 12, 2014 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Papers, Please and App Content Ratings

John Gruber:

This case highlights the way Apple holds games (and apps in general) to a different standard than other iTunes content. Movies, music, and books are not held to the same PG-13-ish standards that apps are. I can buy A Clockwork Orange from iTunes, but if I made a game that showed the exact same things that are depicted in that film, it’d have little chance of being approved. Conversely, an R-rated movie version of Papers Please could depict this scene without a hitch when it comes to iTunes.

This has never made much sense to me. Apple has a more extensive system for rating the content of apps than it does for movies. And all apps must have ratings and be reviewed by Apple, whereas some movies are not rated at all. Yet, even with age-appropriate ratings, there are some types of app content that won’t be accepted at all.

Lucas Pope:

Just talked to Apple. The initial rejection for porn was a misunderstanding on their part. They suggested I resubmit with the nudity option.

4 Comments

The rating system is more extensive for apps because it's only one rating system accommodating all countries. Movie ratings systems are different for each country. Change the country in iTunes parental preferences to get a peak at the changing options.

You know, many movies are rated R in the US while rated lower or even universal in France? What is acceptable for children of different ages varies from place to place, and the movie ratings reflects that. Apple's app ratings don't, and I wonder how they're perceived around the world.

Furthermore, there are very strong cultural if not regulatory standards in place already for music, movies, TV series, books, etc. ratings, as a result the publisher would be excoriated if he tried to deviate from them. So Apple can confidently piggyback on these standards, however for apps Apple pretty much gets to set the standards, and I guess they tend to err on the safe side, especially since their rating system for apps, while extensive, is tiny compared to the systems in place for music, movies, etc. even at each national level. Plus, the public probably ascribes Apple more responsibility for the contents of apps than they do for the contents of music, movies, etc. and I am afraid this difference of consideration will remain as long as the iOS App Store has the monopoly for iOS app distribution.

Funny how it's always about a "misunderstanding". I guess when appeal courts overturn a lower court's ruling it's always about clearing a misunderstanding, isn't it? And all these scandals revealed by the press are mere misunderstandings the press exposure allowed to resolve, of course. *sigh*

"You know, many movies are rated R in the US while rated lower or even universal in France? What is acceptable for children of different ages varies from place to place, and the movie ratings reflects that. Apple's app ratings don't, and I wonder how they're perceived around the world."

Yeah. The recent The Proof of the Honey eBook controversy is an interesting example of this.

At first, Apple refused to sell the non-pornographic eBook because it had a non-pornographic nude on the cover. After controversy erupted in France, Apple reversed itself, and I pretty strongly think it's because the book was in French and published in France. Then once the controversy had been settled, they ended up selling the English translation too.

Just another example of how muddled the Apple censorship policy is, here in the multi-cultural dimension.

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Never a huge Gruber fan, but:

I can buy A Clockwork Orange from iTunes, but if I made a game that showed the exact same things that are depicted in that film, it’d have little chance of being approved.

I mean, seriously, that's proper.

A Clockwork Orange employs straight-up pornography in its artistic method, but yeah, that's fine to sell. But Papers, Please has to rely on a non-pornographic defense just to get its refusal reversed. That's a more universal example of how muddled the Apple censorship policy is...

"Then once the controversy had been settled, they ended up selling the English translation too."

Huh. My mistake. They're selling the English translation, but unlike the French version, the English version has had the originally objectionable "tits cover" replaced. So, I guess there is official ad-hoc censorship by region...

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