I own a Samsung smartphone which runs the Android operating system. Since most mobile devs make apps for the iPhone first, I usually have to wait a bit longer for certain apps to pass over from the App Store to the Play Store. Still, once I downloaded Blackbar, I was playing the same game as everyone else. Right? Well, almost.
Overall, I’d say my experience was hardly any different from my peers. I completed the puzzles, I sometimes looked up an answer (Subculturia? Really? I could write a whole post on that alone… Hmm, maybe I will). I enjoyed the game for what it was. For all intents and purposes, it was the same game. But discussion in class made me realize the true impact of the different platforms- while minor, it was still surprising.
On the very first page, I recall writing censored. In class, we were told that the more correct answer was ‘redacted’. It was revealed that no matter what I put, once I had moved on to the next page, my answer had been changed to redacted. I was fascinated, and obviously wanted to check it out immediately, so I pulled out my phone (sorry!) and loaded up Blackbar.
I had completed the game, so I was on the very last page. I tapped previous. I scrolled down. I tapped previous. I scrolled down. I glanced over at an iPhone-wielding friend, who was also making their way back to the first page. However, they were doing no scrolling at all- they were simply swiping to the right to switch pages. Genius, I thought. Why didn’t I think of that? I swiped to the right, and… nothing. Huh. I guess that feature hadn’t made it onto the Android version of the game.
I continued my task of scrolling and tapping while listening to the conversation around me. I remember hearing someone say that not only did the game change certain answers, but even fixed capitalization. I looked down at the page where I was supposed to sign my name and saw lowercase I’s, uncapitalized proper nouns, and beginnings of sentences that certainly would have gotten me points off on my elementary school grammar homework. How strange.
I passed by the puzzle in which a heart was constructed with yellow O boxes and black X boxes. Or, at least, it had been; now they were all yellow. “Oh, they didn’t turn black for you?” my friend asked. “No, they did. They just… turned back, I guess?” How strange, once again.
It legitimately took five minutes of swiping and tapping to get back to the first page. Perhaps it wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been listening to comments from the class at the same time, but still- it was a much longer game than I remembered. When I finally reached it, there was the last piece of damning evidence: “All of my messages have to go through the Department of Communication first, so some of my writing may be censored.”
So there you have it. iPhone users, you and I played exceedingly similar, but ultimately different, games. The difference between the platforms may have been minor, but it’s there. This is the kind of platform studies that requires no knowledge of computer science or coding. If I were to go into the source codes for each games and isolate exactly why this is the case, then perhaps it would become a different kind of platform study- but then, I lack the expertise to go that far.