internet indiscretions

“Slave Tetris” Removed from Slave Trade Video Game for Kids After Twitter Backlash

by Michael Scrutchin Posted: 09-03-15 | 2 years ago
Screenshot from Slave Trade video game
Photo Credit: Serious Games Interactive / YouTube.com Screenshot from Slave Trade video game

“Travel back in time to the 18th century and witness the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade firsthand,” begins the description for Playing History: Slave Trade, an “educational” video game designed for 11- to 14-year-olds.

The 2013 game was released on Steam over the weekend, sparking an uproar on Twitter. But it wasn’t just the premise of the game that had people outraged—which certainly would have been enough, as the trailer and gameplay demos suggest that the game makers, Copenhagen-based Serious Games Interactive, have turned the slave trade into a jaunty adventure farce.

It was the “Slave Tetris” portion of the game that pushed it over the edge. In one segment, the goal is to stack slaves efficiently into a slave ship, with gameplay similar to Tetris—rotating, dropping, and cramming as many bodies into a limited space as you can.

On Monday, the creators removed that portion of the game in response to the backlash.

“Apologies to people who were offended by us using game mechanics to underline the point of how inhumane slavery was,” the game creators wrote in a statement posted on the game’s page on Steam. “The goal was to enlighten and educate people—not to get sidetracked discussing a small 15-second part of the game.”

As if that 15-second part is the only problem with the game.

Serious Games founder Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen joked about the controversy on Twitter earlier this week, tweeting, “Contemplating what our next game will be…. something that can’t possible hurt anybodies feelings… maybe just do a good old plan shooter.” He deleted his Twitter account on Tuesday.

Watch the Slave Trade trailer and marvel at how anyone could be so clueless.

Michael Scrutchin

Former film critic and editor of the now-defunct Flipside Movie Emporium. Writer of sorts. Houston native. Also: dancer, poet, fiddler.

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