Google has removed a highly controversial game called Slavery Simulator from its app store after it sparked widespread outrage in Brazil. Developed by Magnus Games and launched on April 20, the game allowed players to engage in the disturbing practice of “buying and selling” black characters.
Local media reported that the app had been downloaded over 1,000 times before its removal on Wednesday.
Given Brazil’s historical struggle with the legacy of slavery, which was only abolished in 1888, the game’s content caused deep concern among the population. The game’s description, touted by the developer, boasted about users being able to “exchange, buy, and sell slaves,” while also offering players the option to subject black characters to various forms of torture. Screenshots of the game revealed players being given the choice to either liberate the enslaved characters or “use slaves for your own enrichment” in order to accumulate wealth, effectively preventing the abolition of slavery.
After its removal, the game surprisingly received a four out of five-star rating, with one review expressing a desire for more options to inflict torture. Social media users in Brazil expressed their anger over the game, and several prominent politicians called for stricter standards to be imposed on tech companies. Renata Souza, a black activist and regional politician from Rio de Janeiro, took to Twitter and denounced the game as “blatant racism” and “absurdly violent,” demanding that Google and the developer be held accountable for promoting hatred and racism.
Brazil’s Public Prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into how the game, known as Simulador de Escravidão in Portuguese, was allowed to be available on the Google Play Store. The Ministry for Racial Equality has scheduled a meeting with Google to discuss implementing “anti-racist content moderation” policies, while also asserting that the developers will face legal consequences.
In response to the incident, a spokesperson from Google stated that the Play Store strictly prohibits apps that promote violence, incite hatred based on race or ethnicity, or depict or endorse gratuitous violence or dangerous activities. The spokesperson emphasized that appropriate action is taken when violations of these policies are identified.