Lucas Pope, developer behind award-winning indie game Papers, Please announced on Twitter that the border agent simulation game (trust me, it’s way more fun than it sounds) would be coming to iPad on December 10th. He then followed it with the a tweet stating that the game would be censored by Apple:
The iPad version has no full nudity option for the search scanner photos. Apple rejected that build for containing “pornographic content.”
— Lucas Pope (@dukope) December 11, 2014
Papers, Please puts the player in the role of a border agent, accepting or denying entry at the border of a totalitarian governed country in the 1980’s, based on a towering pile of bureaucratic policies and procedures. It very effectively highlights and simulates the bleak tedium of the job while also tugging at your empathy strings as it exposes the dehumanization and the degradation that those crossing the borders into such countries are subjected to. One of the features that drives that idea home the most is using the the body scanner to search entrants for contraband. Yes, sometimes you find contraband or weapons. But most of the time you expose their naked bodies only to stamp acceptance on their passports and let them move along.
There has always been an option to turn the nudity off or on, and the above picture shows the same body scan in both settings. Clearly the nudity is crude and somewhat obscured – it certainly isnt pornographic or sensual in any way. While the feature can be toggled by the user, I always had the impression that it was very purposefully left to the player to decide and force them to really think about they felt using the body scans on the entrants.
After a small but not so quiet outcry in response the censorship, and within a day later, Pope tweeted again saying that it was a misunderstanding and that the game was being resubmitted with the nudity option intact and defaulted as off.
Just talked to Apple. The initial rejection for porn was a misunderstanding on their part. They suggested I resubmit with the nudity option.
— Lucas Pope (@dukope) December 12, 2014