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Google removes Hong Kong protester game for violation of app store policies

Google removed “The Revolution of Our Times”, a mobile game that lets people role play as a Hong Kong protester, claiming that the game violated Google Play’s policies. "We have a longstanding policy prohibiting developers from capitalising on sensitive events such as attempting to make money from serious ongoing conflicts or tragedies through a game," Google said.

Google’s decision has led to a company-wide debate among its employees. Employees who support the protesters have reportedly posted messages of solidarity to an internal message board. Employees are also said to have raised the idea that “companies like Google are morally obligated to support pro-democracy movements”. However, some employees are of the view that there discussions are inappropriate for work.

Google has changed its company guidelines to discourage political discussions at work. The guidelines read “Our primary responsibility is to do the work we've each been hired to do, not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics."

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Article
14 October 2019

Google pulls Hong Kong protester game from store while Activision Blizzard removes pro-protest gamer from international tournament

Author: BBC (UK)

“Google pulls Hong Kong protestor game from store”, 11 Oct 2019

Google has removed from its app store a mobile game that lets people role play as a Hong Kong protester.

The tech giant says the app violated a policy against cashing in on conflicts, and the decision was not the result of a request to take it down…

The choice-based game, Revolution of Our Times, allowed users to play the part of a Hong Kong protestor.

Like real protestors, players could buy protective gear and weapons, but they could also be arrested and even extradited to China…

In a statement, Google said the game was removed because it violated Google Play's policies.

"We have a longstanding policy prohibiting developers from capitalising on sensitive events such as attempting to make money from serious ongoing conflicts or tragedies through a game," Google said.

Google noted it had pulled apps previously for attempting to profit from other high-profile events such as earthquakes, crises, suicides and conflicts.

The move comes just days after an online gamer from Hong Kong was removed from an international tournament for the game Hearthstone because he expressed support for the protestors during a livestream.

Activision Blizzard said the gamer, identified as "Blitzchung", had violated rules and would not be allowed to play in any Hearthstone e-sports games for the next 12 months.

The company said the competition rules banned any behaviour that might cause public disrepute or offend a portion or group of the public.

The official Chinese publication the Global Times said Chinese social media users thought Activision Blizzard's move was an example of "how to be responsible in the Chinese market," but move has drawn protest on social media elsewhere, with many gamers calling for a boycott of Blizzard…

Chinese tech company Tencent owns a stake in Activision Blizzard…

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Article
21 October 2019

Google's decision to remove Hong Kong protester game reportedly sparks internal debate among employees

Author: Business Insider

“Google's decision to remove a game that let users play as a Hong Kong protester has reportedly ignited a debate among employees”, 16 October 2019

Google employees are engaged in a company-wide debate on the pro-democracy Hong Kong protests, according to a report from Shirin Ghaffary at Recode.

… Google removed a game from the Google Play Store called "The Revolution of Our Times" that let users role-play as protesters in Hong Kong. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Hong Kong police asked Google to remove the game, while Google says that the game had already been flagged internally due to violating a policy about monetizing "sensitive events."

Sources at Google told Recode that the company discussed the app at its most recent all-hands meeting. The discussion reportedly sparked disagreements between employees who support the protesters, and employees who are pro-Chinese government, or feel that these discussions are inappropriate for work.

Recode reported that employees in favor of the protesters have posted messages of solidarity to Memegen, an internal message board, increasing tensions. Memes supporting the protesters have gained thousands of upvotes in the past few days. Employees also reportedly raised the idea that companies like Google are morally obligated to support pro-democracy movements…

Google did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

Google recently changed company guidelines to discourage political discussions at work — the new guidelines are a direct reversal of the company's historically open culture. They read in part: "Our primary responsibility is to do the work we've each been hired to do, not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics."

[Also referred to Apple and Blizzard Entertainment]

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