A mini-game that attempted to explain the condition suffered by slaves being transported across the Atlantic by likening it to Tetris has been pulled from Steam.
Slave Tetris was a mini-game included in self-professed educational title Playing History 2 – Slave Trade, which was actually released back in 2013. However, after a number of UK newspapers caught wind of the game, several headlines appeared accusing it of being ‘sick’ and ‘dehumanising’.
As a result Danish developer Serious Games has removed the Tetris segment of the game, although it has remained fairly unapologetic in its communications.
Basically, we removed the Tetris part because it distracted the discussion from what was important and was literally 15 secs out of 2 hour game,” it said. In other words it wasn’t as important for us as for a lot of people, so why not just remove it… I know I have the freedom of speech but if yelling banana mean we cannot talk about the rest of fruits – well maybe we should hide the banana for a while.”
The studio’s CEO Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen subsequently deleted his Twitter account, on which he had been defending the game, although a lengthy post on Steam outlined his reasons for rejecting the criticism.
So a lot of people are appalled by the game. Some on a very superficial level and some on a deeper. The critique runs on a number of levels, and we may very well have overstepped some people’s boundaries – that was not the intention, and sorry about that, but it is hard to tackle a sensitive subject,” the post said.
‘You cannot make a game about sensitive subjects. Slave trade is too serious a topic, and should not be done in a ‘fun medium’ like games.’ This is similar to people saying you cannot make visual novels of difficult subjects or movies like Schindler’s List because movies are entertainment medium. You can express any idea through any medium.
‘Slave Tetris is a mockery and insensitive. I definitely agree it is insensitive and gruesome.’ It has to be like this to show what was done to load slave ships. People treated human beings as pieces that just had to fitting into the cargo. The reactions people have to this game is something they will never forget, and they will remember just how inhumane slave trade was. If this is the case then we have accomplished what we set out to do.
People are so eager to just jump on a wagon. I think the situation we have where people behave this way is far more worrying than any game that could ever be made. We are going towards a closed society, where sensitive and controversial subjects are not welcome in public because it causes an outcry focusing on motives and persons rather than the subject which stops any open debate.”