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US legislator calls for Apple, Google to not carry racist game

Rep. Grace Meng says mobile title from Big-O-Tree Games "epitomizes racism against Asian Americans"

An American legislator is calling on Apple and Google to refuse to offer an upcoming mobile game on their storefronts. Posting on Facebook, Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) took aim at the title, from Ontario, Canada-based developer Big-O-Tree Games.

"I wish I could say that I was shocked that there is a new video game soon to be released called Dirty Chinese Restaurant," Meng wrote. "This game uses every negative and demeaning stereotype that I have ever come across as a Chinese American. From the names used for the characters of the game, to the types of food they cook, to the disturbing depiction of their faces, this game epitomizes racism against Asian Americans.

"I fear that prejudice against and othering of Asian Americans remains a form of racism that is too frequently brushed off and tacitly accepted. Racism against Asian Americans is just as harmful and pernicious as racism against any other group, and we must call it out when we see it. How we portray people matters. I urge Google, Apple, Android, and any other platform to not carry the game Dirty Chinese Restaurant, or any other game that glorifies in hurting any community."

The game is a restaurant management title in which players can hunt stray animals and search through dumpsters for ingredients, run their employees at "sweatshop" speed, and bribe immigration officers to prevent them taking staff. The studio's slogan is "Because being politically correct is so... boring" and its official website says it "was founded for one sole purpose: to make the offbeat games we know you want to play, but you didn't think anyone had the cojones to make!"

Regardless of Meng's plea, Apple and Google might not tolerate the game on their storefronts as it is. Apple's developer guidelines specifically forbid insensitive, offensive, or mean-spirited content, specifically when it targets people based on race (along with religion, sexual orientation, national origin, etc.), although it also says "professional political satirists and humorists are generally exempt from this requirement." Meanwhile, Google doesn't allow "apps that advocate against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity."

Inquiries to both Apple and Google were not immediately returned.

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Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.