"Pocket God is one of the most heavily downloaded games in Apple's online store but indigenous groups have started to take offence at the use of grass-skirted islanders who are set on fire and tossed to the sharks.
The game is described as making the player an "all-powerful god that rules over the primitive islanders"."
...Elaine Howard from the international Pacific Women's Information Network says that's "ridiculous", and has sent a complaint to Bolt stating the game is an "arrogant slap in the face to our people".
"How do you think people would react if you created a game where you were God and you could create and kill as many Mexicans as you wanted? Or Asians?" wrote Howard, who lives in the US.
"People would be outraged.
"I hope you don't decide to advertise your application in New Zealand or Australia because you will get a backlash of the same intensity."
I'm not going to defend Bolt Creative, the US-based creators of the very popular Pocket God game for the iPhone. I don't find it offensive myself, but I support the right of any group to vocalize their oppositon to anything they find offensive.
It occured to me that views like this would not only leave us without a popular iPhone app, but also without some of the classic games or gaming characters that we love.
For example, Mario Mario (his real name) is probably the videogame icon, but would we even have a Mario today given how quickly we object to stereotypes in our entertainment? What was once considered clever character design born out of the need to overcome graphical limitations, would probably not fly today.
The graphic fidelity of today's games mean a game character with a big-nose, mustache, overalls and broken English would only be around long enough to be the top story on a CNN report.
And as I look around, I see that there is an aversion to creating characters with, well, character. Out of fear of creating stereotypical characters, we get stuck with bland, repetitive characters that seem pulled from the same generic mold. Even traditional platform titles, usually the home of diverse characters, now seem full of safe, watered-down and utterly forgettable protagonists.
About the only ones left untouched are female characters (X-Blade's Ayumi and Bayonetta's Bayonetta) and extreme sports avatars.