Apple pulls Civil War games in Confederate flag takedown

App Store nixes banner amidst controversy over symbolism

A re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg

Apple is removing games that feature the Confederate flag in their titles or gameplay from its App Store.

A number of titles previously available on the App Store, mainly combat and strategy games set in the US Civil War, have been taken down, along with some wallpapers featuring the flag.

Though Apple has yet to return a request for comment on the matter, both a report from Touch Arcade and comments from iOS developers themselves say Cupertino is pulling the apps due to the use of the Confederate flag as a violation of developer rules against offensive imagery.

Apple says in its developer guidelines:

Apps containing references or commentary about a religious, cultural or ethnic group that are defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to expose the targeted group to harm or violence will be rejected

The flag has become a topic of heated debate in the wake of last week's attack on a historically African-American church in South Carolina that resulted in the deaths of nine people. The shooting has sparked arguments over whether the flag has become a symbol of racial intolerance.

Officials in a number of southern states, including South Carolina, have called for the removal of the flag from state buildings, while retailers including Walmart, Sears, Amazon, and eBay have pulled all Confederate flag merchandise from their stores.

While proponents have cited the historical significance of the banner, the flag design now referred to as the "Confederate flag" was never actually the official flag of the Confederate States in the US Civil War.

Rather, the banner was flown by the famous Northern Virginia army of Robert E. Lee as well as the Confederate Navy (from 1863). It was popularized as a symbol of the Confederacy and the South as a whole in the mid-20th century.

At least one developer is speaking out against the Apple take-down on historical grounds. The developers of Ultimate General: Gettysburg say that their game, which includes Lee's army, will not remove the banner as in this case its use is historically accurate.

"We believe that all historical art forms: books, movies, or games such as ours, help to learn and understand history, depicting events as they were. True stories are more important to us than money," the developer said.

"Therefore we are not going to amend the game's content and Ultimate General: Gettysburg will no longer be available on AppStore. We really hope that Apple’s decision will achieve the desired results." ®

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