Google has taken down a highly contentious game called Slavery Simulator from its app store, following widespread condemnation in Brazil. Developed by Magnus Games and launched on April 20, the app allowed players to engage in activities such as “buying and selling” black characters. Local media reported that the game had been downloaded over 1,000 times before its removal on Wednesday.
Given Brazil’s history and ongoing struggle with its legacy of slavery, which was officially abolished in 1888, the game caused significant outrage. The game’s description boasted about users being able to “exchange, buy and sell slaves” while also permitting various forms of torture against black characters. Players were presented with choices to either liberate the enslaved characters or “use slaves for your own enrichment” in order to prevent the abolition of slavery and amass wealth.
At the time of its removal, the game had received a four out of five star rating, with one review even suggesting the inclusion of more torture options. The game sparked fury among social media users in Brazil, leading to prominent politicians calling for greater accountability from tech companies.
Renata Souza, a black activist and regional politician from Rio de Janeiro, tweeted, “Blatant racism. The image illustrating the game has a white man surrounded by black men. It is absurdly violent. Google and the developer must answer for this crime of hatred and racism.” Denise Pessoa, a lawmaker from the governing PT political party, also expressed her outrage, stating, “IT IS ABSURD that a game that spreads cruelty and hate speech against black people is available. Our country was built with the blood of the black population. People were killed, tortured. A ‘Slavery Simulator’ is no joke.”
The Brazilian Public Prosecutor’s Office has initiated an investigation into how the game, known as Simulador de Escravidão in Portuguese, was allowed to be published on the Google Play Store. Brazil’s Ministry for Racial Equality has arranged a meeting with Google to establish “anti-racist content moderation” policies, emphasizing that the developers will be held legally accountable.
In response to the controversy, a Google spokesperson stated, “The Play Store does not allow apps that promote violence or incite hatred against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, or that depict or promote gratuitous violence or other dangerous activities.” Google takes appropriate action when violations are identified.
Magnus Games did not respond to the BBC’s request for comment. However, the company clarified in the game’s description that it was “created solely for entertainment purposes” and condemned slavery in any form. They emphasized that all game content is fictional and not tied to specific historical events, attributing any coincidences to accidents.