When oilsands giant Syncrude came out with their new iPhone game Trail Blazer, they described it as “a fun way to share information about the company.” Environmentalists are describing it in other ways, accusing the app of being nothing more than propaganda that “leaves out references to climate change and doesn’t tell the whole story.”
Syncrude spokesman Will Gibson may have a little wishful thinking when he describes Trail Blazer to be like Bejewelled or Angry Birds, but he does insist that the game is “a fun, mindless way to spend a few minutes while you’re waiting for your bus to be picked up and along the way you learn a little bit about Syncrude.”
The star of the app is a bison in Fort MacMurry with a passion for outdoor sports. Though you can play the game and collect coins, the reward at the end appears to be a factoid about Syncrude and its work in the oilsands.
John Bennett, executive director of Sierra Club Canada has an issue with Trail Blazer, indicating that “there is a huge propaganda war being waged by the oil industry in Canada to convince Canadians that it’s good for us economically, it’s good for the environment.” Bennett goes on to conclude by saying that the problem is it’s “just not true.”
Even setting aside the validity of the information being presented, Syncrude is likely breaking Apple’s own App Store rules (or at least bending them a great deal), because the guidelines clearly state that “Apps that are primarily marketing materials or advertisements will be rejected.”
Want to see for yourself? Download Syncrude’s Trail Blazer for free from the App Store.
What do you think, should apps like this be allowed?