Drop presents, not bombs

Philipp Eichhorn • • coding

Like eating snowflakes? At FauDroids (the one app a month challenge in 2015) we developed a little Android library which replaces your standard pull-to-refresh layout with a quick game that you can play while waiting for content to load. We call it Bored Rudolf. Here is what that looks like:

Rudolf default game

To make things a little more interesting we decided to drop “dangerous stuff” from the sky every now and then, which Rudolf has to avoid getting hit by. If you go back to your childhood comics, what were the typical things to drop randomly from the sky? Yes, pianos and bombs! Pianos felt a little random, so we went for this instead:

Rudolf with bombs

At this point the app was about finished and we could have just gone ahead and published the result as usual on the Play Store. This was November and the bombing in Paris was all about the news. Something didn’t feel right about releasing the app as it was. I still can’t quite tell you what. Maybe out of the respect for the victims in Paris, maybe because I didn’t want put an app out there which teaches kids that bombs aren’t really that bad (yes, its getting cheesy …) or maybe I just didn’t want to have my name next to something that involves bombs in any way, even if it is just a game. So I went back to the app and changed it into this:

Rudolf with presents

When I showed this update to the team everybody immediately agreed that the new version was a much better fit and had a more Christmas like theme. All was good.

A couple of days ago while browsing Hacker News I came across this article which talks about the importance of privacy (interesting stuff btw.), which contains the following paragraph:

[W]hen the things you write online, or communicate privately to others, are surveilled, and you self-censor as a result, the rest of us lose your perspective, and the development of further ideas is stifled.

Now, I have been fortunate enough to be born and raised in a pretty free and liberal country, but the part of self-censor reminded me very much of me replacing bombs with presents. I don’t know the first thing about censorship and have never actually witnessed it myself, so I might be completely off here, but it does feel a little like I changed the app due to being afraid of landing on some NSA sponsored list (I totally see the irony of writing a whole article about it now). Sure, this is “censorship” at its very lowest and smallest form and there wasn’t anyone forcing me to do anything, but maybe that’s exactly where it starts?

Anyways, present do really make the app look a lot nicer and less aggressive so I won’t be changing it back to raining bombs any time soon :)

Last comment: if you are an Android Dev and want to check out Bored Rudolf, its all on GitHub!