Baby Shaking iPhone Game Sparks Controversy

An iPhone/iPod Touch game in which the player attempts to stop a baby from crying by violently shaking the motion-sensitive handheld device is understandably causing a stir.

Although iTunes has apparently removed Baby Shaker from its AppStore offerings, the controversy over the game lingers.

Cnet reports that Baby Shaker drew criticism from, among others, Jennipher Dickens, whose son Christopher was injured after being shaken by his father. Dickens, the founder of the nonprofit group Stop Shaken Baby Syndrome, commented on the iPhone app:

As a mother of a child who was violently shaken at 7 weeks old, causing a severe brain injury, and the founder of a national organization for Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention… I don’t have to tell you how much this horrifies me!

But Saul Hansell, writing for the New York Times’s Bits blog, has criticized Apple for pulling the game:

I’m troubled by the way Apple caved into pressure here. Of course this application is deeply offensive, with no redeeming value except to people who like to play gross games or have twisted senses of humor.

But as I wrote in February, the App Store is coming to resemble a bookstore. The applications available there can have political, social or literary content. And we know that one person’s manifesto is another’s heresy, and that your masterpiece may well be trash to me.

Meanwhile, The Consumerist reports that Baby Shaker was pulled from iTunes, made available and pulled again.

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  1. hayabusa75 says:

    How about a game where you shake the parents who won’t do anything about their crying babies?

    "De minimus non curat lex"

  2. Cecil475 says:

    Would it be more or less offensive if they changed the game, so when you shake the baby it says "Islam is the light"?

    *raises and waves hand wildly*

    Ohh! Ohh! I know! Would the same woman who complained about the ‘Islam is the light’ game and doll be the one to complain about in another FOX NEWS television interview?

    Woman: "Whee! I get another 15 minutes in front of the camera! Bitch, Whine, Moan! Come on everybody! You all know the words!!"

     – Warren Lewis

    R.i.P GamePolitics 2005-2016

  3. JustChris says:

    I think the app succeeds in what the creator probably wanted it to be- dark comedy. If no one is offended then it’s not dark comedy.


  4. finaleve says:

    Ok, you want to know something more controversial than this?

    Back in high school, we’d all probably had to do that whole "carry around a baby" thing, right?  Now, a good chunk of us probably just lolly-gagged with the damn thing and probably just made it by.
    My school had a bit of a high tech one where it would cry and you would have to use a key to make it stop crying.  First off, right there that (sorta) teaches people that stabbing things makes it all better.  Hell, I know people who would drop the baby and just not give a crap about the thing.  People slowly discovered that the baby’s head was hollow and wouldn’t make the baby cry, so people started messing around with that by squeezing its head.
    And the writing people put on them?

    On a side note, in woodshop class, I was bored and used a screw-driver, and took out one of the eyes in the baby.  I had already aced the class, fortunately, but it was interesting to see what was inside the lil tiger.

  5. eston says:

    But there was nothing pornographic about the boob game. It had no nudity that I’m aware of, just a pair of boobs in a bikini top that you could jiggle by shaking your iPhone. At any rate, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that considers that sort of thing more offensive than a game about shaking babies to death.

  6. 1AgainstTheWorld says:

    Oh! Oh! I just thought of something!

    Would it be more or less offensive if they changed the game, so when you shake the baby it says "Islam is the light"?

  7. Werrick says:

    I’d love to share some with you, but I don’t want to get in trouble. I like coming here, and don’t want to give Denis an excuse to shit-can my account.

  8. 1AgainstTheWorld says:

    Okay I must have had a deprived childhood, because I don’t recall ever hearing any "dead baby" jokes.  I did however at one point know all of the "guy with no arms and no legs" jokes.

  9. Werrick says:

    I know that a lot of people really find it offensive and get all up in arms about stuff like this, but as a connoisseur of the finer dead baby jokes, I find shit like this to be hilarious.

    I do. I’m sorry. I think this application is funny. Hopefully that doesn’t bother anyone, but ultimately it’s a choice for me… PRETEND I don’t think it’s funny just to fit in, or avoid controversy or criticism, or be honest with myself about it.

    I chose the latter. This shit’s funny.

  10. gamadaya says:

    That’s sad, because this probably would have made decent money.

    And can people who get offended by things just stop? All they do is waste there time and everyone elses without making anything more fun for anyone.


    Believe in something! Even if it’s wrong, believe in it! -Glenn Beck

  11. SimonBob says:

    I’m not sure GTA is a fair comparison here.  Shooting a cop (or anyone, for that matter) is a generally reviled action that involves a deliberate choice to take a life, but shaking a baby is more of an uninformed decision by people who should know better.  They’re both stupid and tragic, but the shooting is presumably intentional, whereas a shaken-baby death is typically accidental.  Hence why there are informational "don’t shake a baby!" campaigns, but barely anyone really needs to be told not to shoot people.  In that sense, the game was misleading, perpetuating an incorrect response to a crying infant, which to my mind is reason enough to take it down much as the episode of Beavis and Butt-head where they try to get high on a gas oven leak now has a big yellow "you’re not a cartoon character, so don’t do this!" warning.  People are stupid, is what I’m sayin’.

    The comparison I’d sooner make is that shaking a baby is like giving GTA to a seven-year-old.  ‘Course now I’ll get shouted down by the "zomg games aren’t dangerous to anyone ever!!" crowd. ;D

    The Mammon Philosophy

  12. garrett says:

    Yeah, this is just as bad as getting a truckfull of babies out with a pitchfork. It sounds like a game, but it isn’t. It’s just a bad joke. Or stopping a baby from crying with an axe. That one’s bad too.

  13. axiomatic says:

    I guess I’m just different than some of you posting here. I just don’t see the problem with this app. Yes I’m a parent, yes I have two kids. But if you somehow make the (terrible) leap of logic that a silly baby shaking iphone app is going to lead to eventually desensitizing yourself to one day shake an actual real baby you are more delusional than even I am.

    It’s comedy, it’s silly, it’s something you would expect out of a MAD or Cracked magazine, but it does not deserve the harsh judgement its getting.

    To me this is just a similar and just as tasteless as "dead baby" jokes we all told as elementary school kids, and still just as pedanticly funny.

    I think we all just need to stand back and let quirky be quirky…

  14. E. Zachary Knight says:

    What probably happened there was that the jiggly boobs app blatantly violated Apple’s no pornographic apps rules. Thus it was denied.

    This game may not have fallen into any specific category for banned content. But after this situation, they will probably make a rule stating that games cannot contain violence towards children.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  15. eston says:

    There’s something I’m really confused about here.

    This game actually made it to the iTunes App store and was being sold until it was removed, yet another iPhone App several months ago that only consisted of a pair of boobs that you could jiggle by shaking the phone got shot down by Apple before it even made it to the store.

    What exactly is the oversight process that decides which Apps become available and which ones do not? Because if you ask me, it looks like an inconsistent and broken system.

  16. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    While I wouldn’t want to get this game myself, as I agree it is tasteless, I can actually see one reason why someone would want it.

    Better to shake the fake baby in the game than to shake the real baby and kill it.

    Of course, if the game makes someone shake their baby to death, then we can ban the game.


    "The sun ever rises on the morrow. We can only live for today, and trust that other days will follow." -Unknown

  17. mr_mlk says:

    It would be much more realistic. The PC weighs about the same as a small kid and my wife would kill me for doing it.

    A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body. Benjamin Franklin

  18. chadachada321 says:

    I think his statement was more in lieu of saying that he doesn’t think people should be offended by it. Frankly, I think that people that are offended by this are idiots. Sure, you can be offended all you want, but you’ll still be an idiot in my eyes, and you’ll offend me if you try to stick your offenses into my life.

    That’s why I say, to each his own. Believe what you want, but recognize that overreaction is grounds for looking like an idiot to people.

    I think it’s wrong to be offended by this, but I also think that it’s wrong to be pro-gun control, against abortion, to believe in religion, play Sony games, you name it. I just ignore you if I think you’re overreacting and fight you if you try and infringe on my rights.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  19. Anonononomous says:

    That statement was not an attack. It was simply a statement of fact. The you was general. Some people may choose to be offended by the simplest thing and that should be only their problem, instead of foisting their complaints and limits of tolerance onto what others ought to be allowed to do.

    I’m still not even sure where you decided the discussion was about being offended. My first post was simply to point out how you were acting like the anti-game people by saying that the game consisted of shaking babies, rather than shaking an iPhone. The game is not passing itself off as parental education.

  20. nighstalker160 says:

    Ah but a reasonable inference from his statements is that because something is not, in fact real, you cannot be offended by it.

    That seems to be the subject of this debate. I argued that I can UNDERSTAND the objection to this game and that it isn’t based on, as the original poster said, "arbitrary morals or rules."

    It’s based on a natural and societal repulsion to the idea of shaking a baby to keep it quiet and that I can understand how a game that SIMULATES that act could be seen as offensive.

    His response was to comment that you are shaking an iPhone and not an actual baby. My point, and perhaps I wasn’t clear on this, was to infer that he meant that since you are not, in fact, shaking a baby that the opposition to this game was somehow wrong and that the original poster was correct.

    Perhaps I drew an erroneous inference, but I still think it was a reasonable one. That his argument was that it was somehow wrong to offended by the game because it was a simulation.

  21. nighstalker160 says:

    Wow, ok, let me ask this then:

    What would you call the following statement:

    "I can separate reality from fantasy. If you can’t or you choose to get offended anyway, then that’s your problem."

    Wouldn’t that be attacking the arguer and not the argument? Which is an ad hominem attack?

    To use your own phrase: "ad hominem, way to go."

    In any case, I am not responding or debating solely back and forth with you. I am debating the larger issue as well. The larger issue, as I see it, is this perception among some gamers, that people should not be offended by anything in video games.

    That is an illogical and ludicrous proposition, we do not have the right to demand that everyone agree with us. We do have the right to demand that we not be singled out and treated differently.

    Needless to say, I was not attacking YOU. I was attacking the notion that because it’s not, in fact, reality, its somehow wrong to get offended by it. That’s simply not logical.

    People get offended by particular subjects, sounds, touches, smells, or visuals. To suggest that simply because a particular visual is a depiction and not a reality is to deny basic human experience.

    Everyone is offended by particular subjects. Everyone has some subject that they find very offensive.

    Personally, I find the Saw and similar movies offensive. I don’t suggest they shouldn’t be made or sold, I don’t go see them.

    That doesn’t change the fact that I find them repulsive and offensive. Am I somehow wrong for feeling that way? Do I not have the right to be offended?

    But, if you insist I’m misinterpreting your statement or putting words in your mouth, then tell me:

    What exactly is your argument for how something that is not, in fact, real cannot be offensive?

    That’s the only conclusion I can draw from your statement that because the game involves shaking an iPhone and not a real baby its not offensive.

    The GAME itself might not be. But I, and many others, find the subject matter (shaking a baby to keep it quiet) offensive.

    Perhaps I’m overly sensitive to this topic, I will admit that. In the interest of full disclosure I did intern at a prosecutor’s office and did have to deal with several shaken baby cases. So maybe I am a little more offended by that particular subject than others.

    But I don’t believe that opposition to this game is based off "arbitrary morals." It’s based off a natural societal resistance to the subject matter of shaken baby sydrome.

    To admit that is not the same as agreeing with censorship. Again, I find the Saw movies offensive, I agree with those who find them over the top and patently offesive, I DO NOT think they should be censored or banned.

    I was not making an ad hominem argument, I was drawing an inference and extending your argument to a logical conclusion. I might have made an ERRONEOUS inference, but I was still attacking an argument, not you yourself.

  22. Wormdundee says:

     Have to agree with him on this one nightstalker. I also would have no problem with a holocaust game. I think it’s safe to say it would be in bad taste, and I don’t think I would play it. But I’m not against anyone else playing it.

    He never said people didn’t have the right to be offended. And, it’s true this argument doesn’t even matter in this case. Apple could pull whatever app they wanted for absolutely no reason at all. They don’t have to prove any reasoning.

    I would personally prefer if they hadn’t pulled it, but it’s probably a good business decision.

    Just to say, I know people have the right to be offended, but as long as they don’t try to infringe on other peoples rights because of the offense, I am totally cool with that.

  23. Anonononomous says:

    I wouldn’t have a problem. I didn’t have a problem with Super Columbine, either. I can separate reality from fantasy. If you can’t or you choose to get offended anyway, then that’s your problem.

    I also never said anything about being offended before this post. Way to start putting words in my posts. Oh, and ad hominem, way to go.

  24. nighstalker160 says:

    So answer my question:

    You would have NO problem whatsoever with something like "Holocaust: The Video Game"? Or a video game based solely on racism.

    My point is that the game is in entirely bad taste and it offends the sensibilities of the vast majority of people. To suggest that because it’s not, in fact, reality that it doesn’t is just illogical and an attempt to divert from the real issue.

    Video games are a legitimate expression of art and creativity. But there are issues that such expressions raise. We, as video gamers, do not have the right to say "We don’t offend people." We have to accept the fact that some segment of the population is going to be offended and has the right to be offended by certain content.

    I assume your favorite movie is "Birth of a Nation" after all it is a technical masterpiece and you seem to think that because the subject matter is not ACTUALLY occuring then it doesn’t matter whatsoever.

    I am in no way equating this game to real life. But the bottom line is that this game simulates a crying child and your objective is to stop the crying by, in essence, "killing" the child.

    You’ll note that not even GTA has taken the step of having children walking around Liberty City that you can kill.

    You’re basically arguing that media exists in a vacuum divorced from the real world sensibilities of the consumer. That’s inane. Now, the proper tool to stop production of games like this is, IMO, market forces. If a game is too offensive, people won’t buy it (or at least not enough people to make it profitable).

    But you’re raising a ludicrous argument here by saying "It isn’t, in fact, real so it cannot offend and you’re stupid if it does offend you."

    That may be your opinion, but its totally divorced from real world logic. By their very nature video games, movies, fiction books, comics etc. are "not, in fact, real."

    Does that mean a racist cartoon doesn’t offend?

  25. Anonononomous says:

    I’m pretty sure you’re required to kill some innocent people and cops in GTA IV. At the very least, I’m sure you’re forced to kidnap an innocent.


    All I was saying was that the game is a game and you are falling into the trap of equating the game with the real world that so many critics love to do.

  26. nighstalker160 says:

    So you would have no problem with a game that simulated say…the holocaust? Or a game called "Lynch" in which your objective is to find and hang as many "n***ers" as possible?

    Sure, the game doesn’t involve any actual baby shaking and I never said the game should be censored, any more than GTAIV should be censored.

    But I do take issue with a subset of the video game community and any community for that matter, that says its opposition can never have a legitimate or understandable objection. That is the exact tactic we’re fighting against, we’re fighting against this idea of video gamers as a bunch of psychopathic teenagers who’s opinions and views aren’t even worthy or consideration.

    Yet there is this trend of thought among some of our compatriots that says "Meh, all video game critics are foam at the mouth conservative psychos who don’t deserve any consideration."

    Well that isn’t really legitimate now is it?

    I can totally understand the objection some people have to this iPhone game. I find it very distasteful and disturbing. Should it be censored? No.

    But is the objection based on purely arbitrary rules and morals? No it isn’t.

    And I’ll bring this up again, the POINT behind GTA is not to shoot cops. The apparenty POINT of this game is to quiet a baby by simulating shaking it. There doesn’t seem to be any other goal. GTA has a storyline and narrative that you can complete without shooting a single cop or innocent person. This game doesn’t have that.

    Finally, and its been said on this thread already. Apple has every right to limit content to its product. There’s a difference between CORPORATE censorship and GOVERNMENT censorship. And company’s should have a right to control what appears on their product (hell, Not having that control nearly killed the industry back in 1983.)

    But Apple should do a pre-approval process if they want to. As for "banning" this game? Should it be banned for content, debatable, I don’t think so. Should it be banned because its stupid, pointless, inane, and a sympton of the "crapware" phenomena effecting video gaming today? You bet your ass.

    But then again I think 75% of the Wii library should be banned for the same reason.

  27. Anonononomous says:

    Actually, the game doesn’t involve any baby shaking. It simply involves shaking the iPhone. Or would you say the GTA involves shooting real cops?

  28. Wormdundee says:

     It’s not hard at all to defend this one. It’s a game that hasn’t and never will harm anyone. You need to think about where you’re going to arbitrarily draw the line.

  29. sqlrob says:

    "Normally, I would say that you shouldn’t pull stuff down just because it doesn’t fit your morals, but it’s kind of hard to defend GTA. It got to be the most tasteless game I ever seen. GTA involves killing cops and condones prostitution and drug killing."


    It’s not hard to defend this one. It’s a game, no more, no less. Don’t like it, don’t buy it.




  30. KayleL says:

    Normally, I would say that you shouldn’t pull stuff down just because it doesn’t fit your morals, but it’s kind of hard to defend this one. It got to be the most tasteless game I ever seen.

  31. Zerodash says:

    The game is totally in poor taste.  However, pulling a game/book/movie because someone is offended is even worse. 

    People who are offended offend me.

  32. sirdarkat says:

     Actually depending on volume on the iphone it might be worth it as revenge … hey susie you know how you like to take your crying kid everywhere well I have my own now and since its my noise device it won’t bother me as much as it bothers you …. MUHAHAHAHAHA =P

  33. sirdarkat says:

     And that is why PC Gamers will never die out … no approval requriement to sale a game for the PC; just make it and release it.

  34. King of Fiji says:

    That makes sense.  Money makes the world go around and if money is stopped by a baby shaking game then of course the baby shaking game won’t matter.

  35. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Since noone has said this yet, I will. Apple has every right to decide what apps get to be sold through their service. Just as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo can decline games for their services, Apple has the same rights.

    The difference here is that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have a pre-approval process. The game must be approved before development can start. Apple has a post approval system, where the game can be made but must be approved before it can be sold. Why they didn’t deny it out right before listing it is beyond me.

    Now all four of these companies have images they desire to hold and maintain. That is why they have these approval processes. If a game or app does not fit their image, they will not allow it on thier service. What apple is doing is exactly the same thing that allows all three consoles to not license AO rated games. While we may not like those decisions, as a company providing a service they have every right to do this.

    But if whoever made the "game" wants to still release it, he has a market in jail broken iPhones. There is no approval process for those.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  36. King of Fiji says:

    Wow an application on the IPhone thats accutally worth buying and it gets pulled.  🙁  

  37. ecco6t9 says:

    I find this game humorous but not the actual real life action of it. It really is the same as calling GTA a "cop killer" it’s an action you won’t do in the real world but something you can do in a game world.

  38. nighstalker160 says:

    To be fair I wouldn’t exactly call this "arbitrary morals and rules." The game does involve violently shaking a baby, I don’t think there’s too many people who think that’s an ok thing to do and those people tend to end up in jail for manslaughter.

    Shaken Baby Syndrome is a terrible thing and shaking a baby is a real crime. This isn’t so much about the "annoying baby" as it is about the idea that you quiet the baby by, essentially, killing it.

    But I do think Apple is pushing the censorship angle too far. It’s a stupid game, I’m very sorry for people who have lost children to shaken baby syndrome, but we can’t go pulling media because it hits too close to home for people.

  39. sirdarkat says:

     I would like to say I would be a tard willing to download it (if I was willing to actually buy an iphone =P )  Sounds funny to me; there have been many times that a crying baby has annoyed the crap out of me because the parents were to lazy to take it outside of the theater or restaruant until it calmed down.


    As for Apple pulling it no big surprise this is Apple after all; and its not like its the first application they have pulled or denied based on arbitrary morals and rules.  Censorship is teh Fun.

  40. Cerabret100 says:

    who the hell takes the (admittidly very little) time to make something so pointless.

    and who the hell would actually pay for it?

  41. JB says:

    Why would someone pay $0.99 for something that’s only purpose is to annoy the hell out you?

    I wouldn’t even download that for a credit on my account.

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