Letter from California

[Editor’s Note: Kevin Johnson is one of four primary contributors to the ImmigrationProf Blog and shares this story, originally published on that blog. Just in time for Christmas is this controversy over an immigration-themed video game containing alleged pornographic content. Where once wholesome nudity was featured, Apple censors have broken out the granny panties.]

Here is an out-of-the-ordinary story that should appeal to the gamers in the crowd.

Yesterday, Papers, Please made its debut on iPad, but the game was missing a key aspect: all nudity had been removed after Apple considered it to be pornographic. According to the game’s developer, it turns out it was a mistake and not censorship.

Papers, Please puts you in the role of an immigration officer, and the offending bits involved scanning potential immigrants with an x-ray, which allowed you to see them in the nude. That feature was present in the original PC version from last year, but when game creator Lucas Pope submitted the game to Apple it was rejected for containing “pornographic content.” A revised version, featuring characters in their underwear instead, was released today.

The game is described below:

“A Dystopian Document Thriller.

The communist state of Arstotzka has ended a 6-year war with neighboring Kolechia and reclaimed its rightful half of the border town, Grestin.

Your job as immigration inspector is to control the flow of people entering the Arstotzkan side of Grestin from Kolechia. Among the throngs of immigrants and visitors looking for work are hidden smugglers, spies, and terrorists. Using only the documents provided by travelers and the Ministry of Admission’s primitive inspect, search, and fingerprint systems you must decide who can enter Arstotzka and who will be turned away or arrested.”

About Kevin Johnson, Dean and Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicana/o Studies at UC Davis School of Law

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