The Moral Difference Between iPhone and xbox: The Gabo! Problem.

I have been pondering today the question of why it so bothers me that Gabo!, by Yoot Saito (of Seaman fame), was rejected by Apple for iPhone.  The obvious issue is that it’s a curious and problematic situation when corporate entities own the tools of creative expression, and can stop distribution of an individual’s work. And this case is pivotal, as I don’t believe you can argue that his work isn’t art on some level, which could make it the Lady Chatterly’s Lover of the digital/hardware-approved content era. But, for me, it’s also more subtle, as I have long argued with more indie friends that the game console model of content control is fair because a) the hardware is subsidized, and hence the manufacturer is giving you better hardware than you’d buy for yourself for this use, in support of software sales and b) it’s focused primarily on commercial games, and not really a common carrier, as the PC serves as such an appropriate and parallel vehicle for content transmission. From a functional perspective, it never seemed to me that a non-commercial developer would bother putting in the time to learn the tools to put out a product onto a platform so customized to expensive development, and having an installed base so focused on gamers. This situation has changed slightly with xna and digital distribution, but still, developing for the console remains something that is logically targeted at gamers, under firm existing expectations on the part of creator and end-user. Continue reading “The Moral Difference Between iPhone and xbox: The Gabo! Problem.”