Apple has rejected an iPhone game that involves driving a truck full of immigrants through a desert while trying to keep them in the vehicle.
The developers, Boston's Owlchemy Labs, said in a video on their site that the game, Smuggle Truck was accepted after they altered it and called it Snuggle Truck.
The first version of the game involved driving a truck full of people -- presumably Latino -- over obstacles, while trying to prevent them from being thrown out of the truck. Occasionally a baby appears in the truck bed. The second version involves what the developers call cuddly creatures escaping a wilderness for the comfort of a zoo, where they are offered unlimited food, shelter and state of the art health care.
In an email, Owlchemy's chief scientist, Alex Schwartz, said, Apple would not allow the immigration theme, and we had not discussed it before. We were notified of the rejection after we had submitted Smuggle Truck. Snuggle Truck was enough of a change that the game was allowed on the app store.
The game in its Smuggle Truck configuration isn't available on the iOS, but it can be downloaded for the Mac and PC platforms. Snuggle Truck can be toggled between Snuggle Truck and Smuggle Truck on those platforms, but not the iOS.
Smuggle Truck came under fire from advocates for immigrants when it was first announced in February. Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrants & Refugee Advocacy Coalition, told the Associated Press at the time that game trivializes the situation of immigrants willing to risk their lives to get into the country.
On its blog, Owlchemy's developers said they wanted to bring attention to the problem with the game. We understood that creating a satire would be the best way to bring the issue to light and kickstart the process of getting people discussing immigration reform, they wrote.
Schwartz, in his email, said some people expressed concerns about the game's theme when it was being developed. Some people of course expressed concerns, but they were mostly criticisms based on the general idea that a game could talk about a subject like immigration.
He said the genesis of the game was the frustrations of another developer, Darren Torpey. Torpey was trying to find a legal way to stay in the U.S., Schwartz said, and couldn't get a visa that would allow him to immigrate without a years-long wait. He notes that there is a feature on the game that allows for a legal immigration option, which shows someone staring at a wall with a clock that counts down from 20 years.
The video with the developers' explanation follows: